Colin Maclay

Executive Director

Colin M. Maclay (@cmac) currently serves as Executive Director for the Annenberg Innovation Lab and Professor of Communication at USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Maclay has long been motivated to understand how radical changes in communications capacity, information generation and processing affect otherwise immutable organizations and institutions, recognizing that humans and organizations are more complex than technology. Ultimately, his work asks what mix of forces will help these emerging technologies and practices to work for – not against – people and society broadly. He revel in connecting diverse people and ideas, and helping them to explore and guide the interaction of technology and society.

Maclay’s research is exploratory and participatory, taking diverse forms, leveraging novel collaborations, and seeking to generate qualitative and quantitative data. Insights reveal trends and needs, suggest experiments and research, and inform strategies and tactics. Recent work explores digitization and the challenges of digital transformation in public media, music, education and Nigerian film. Ongoing interests include civic media and public entrepreneurship, online free expression and privacy, policy and technology infrastructures and emerging institutions and multi-stakeholder governance. Previous work includes research and policy development around national technology strategy, democracy and civic engagement, learning, rural access, and entrepreneurship – as they intersect with new technologies.

Previously, he was the founding director of the Digital Initiative at the Harvard Business School, an effort to understand and shape the digital transformation of business and society through a dynamic mix of collaborative research, teaching and engagement with the practice. He also spent a decade helping to build, scale and make sustainable Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, including its transition to a university-wide center and significant growth of its team and resources. He remains a senior researcher and member of the Center’s Fellows Advisory Board. He helped found the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder effort to protect and advance freedom of expression and privacy online. He has advised and served on the boards of numerous private and civil society organizations. Maclay holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin, MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School and a PhD from Northeastern University.