Western democracy has always been anchored by the idea of a public space where people gather to share ideas, mediate difference and make sense of the world. When Facebook blocked Australian users from viewing or sharing news in 2021, it sounded the alarm worldwide on our growing reliance on global tech companies to fulfil this critical role in a digital world. Facebook's hostile act, constituting a very real threat to participatory democracy, was a direct response to government attempts to regulate Big Tech's advertising monopoly and to mediate its impact on public interest journalism.
The conflict sparked a new sense of urgency around the growing movement to imagine alternative digital spaces that operate in the public interest rather than simply for a commercial bottom line. Can we create sustainable media models to help us tackle society's problems? Can we engender a civic platform built on facts and civility? Can we control the power of our data and use it to promote the common good?
The Public Square Project draws together leading tech scholars, industry experts, writers and activists to chart a path towards a public square worthy of the name.
Mark Andrejevic, Professor of Media Studies in the School of Media, Film and Journalism at Monash University
Pia Andrews, Special Advisor at Employment and Social Development Canada
Belinda Barnet, Senior Lecturer in Media at Swinburne University and a digital and social media academic.
Axel Bruns, Professor in the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology
Bronwyn Carlson, Head of Department of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University
Chris Cooper, Executive Director of Reset Australia
Nick Davis, Professor of Practice at Arizona State University
Rob Elliott-Smith, Head of Technology for AI and ML at Digital Catapult
Fiona Martin, Associate Professor in Convergent and Online Media for Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney.
Emma McDonald, Policy Consultant at Minderoo Foundation
Lizzie O’ Shea, Chair of Digital Rights Watch
Venessa Paech, Director of Australian Community Managers
Eli Pariser, Co-director of Civic Signals
Matt Prewitt, President of RadicalxChange Foundation
Ed Santow, Industry Professor of Responsible Technology at University of Technology, Sydney
Dan Stinton, Managing Director of Guardian Australian
Melissa Sweet, Founder and Editor of Croakey Media
Chris Warren, Veteran journalist
Megan Williams, Senior Lecturer and Head of the Girra Maa Indigenous Health Discipline at University of Technology, Sydney
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