Gregg Pascal Zachary tries to understand, document and represent technological change and imaginations about the future through a multi-dimensional lens. The first dimension involves reportage and storytelling about technoscientific complexity, presented in vernacular language. Zachary wrote a narrative tale of the making of a Microsoft computer program (his book, Showstopper) and reported on Silicon Valley and the rise of digital devices and networks during the formative period of the 1980s and 1990s for The Wall Street Journal. He wrote a column on innovation for the New York Times from 2007-2008 and currently contributes to the Spectral Lines column in IEEE’s monthly Spectrum magazine.
The second dimension of Zachary’s work addressing the history of technological systems, chiefly in terms of the interplay of war and national security on research and innovation during World War II and the Cold War. Zachary wrote a biography of the organizer of the Manhattan Project, Vannevar Bush (Endless Frontier), and Zachary teaches a class on nuclear weapons history at ASU.
The third dimension of Zachary’s work centers on how developing countries both absorb science and technology from North America and Europe and also generate their own distinctive approaches to technoscience and innovation. Zachary pays special attention to sub-Saharan Africa, a region he has visited 40 times. He is currently researching under a grant from the National Science Foundation the emergence of computer science in Uganda and he teaches a classes on science, technology and development in Africa in the Global Technology and Development (GTD) program at ASU. Zachary is the author of Married to Africa: a love story and Hotel Africa: the politics of escape.
The fourth dimension of Zachary’s work reflects his life-long interest in the self in transformation. Zachary’s research on new forms of identity engendered by the parallel forces of mobility, digital information-technologies and global migration led to his book, The Diversity Advantage: Multicultural Identity in the New World Economy (2003).
Taken together, the four dimensions of Zachary’s thinking, field research and writing enable him to work across traditional scholarly, geographic and pop-culture boundaries. The future of the human is fundamentally the terrain I care most about, but because of path dependence — of thinking and practice — we can never break free of the past,” he says. “Yet radical leaps and disruptions are possible — and perhaps more likely — than ever.”