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A Little Bit (More) About Me

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.”

Zachary is a professor of practice at Arizona State University in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. Zachary joined ASU's faculty in 2010. Zachary, whose first name is Gregg, is also an affiliate faculty in both English and History at ASU, and teaches in the university's Barrett Honors College on the intersection of science, politics and culture. "Nuclear Weapons and the Making of Modern America," and "The Quest for Enhanced Consciousness: from the Greeks to Google" are two of his representative courses. In January 2020, Zachary plans to depart ASU and resume writing fulltime from his home in northern California, which he has maintained during his decade-long "sojourn" in the Arizona desert.

Zachary spent 13 years as a senior writer for The Wall Street Journal (1989 to 2001) and authored the Ping column on innovation for The New York Times from 2007 to 2008. He regularly contributes comments on current affairs to radio programs in the U.S., Britain and Africa. He has been interviewed by BBC, NPR's Marketplace, and Pacifica's KPFK (Los Angeles). He writes mini-essays for Spectrum magazine on engineering and society, and contributes occasionally to other publications.

Zachary is the author of four books: “Showstopper,” about the making of the Windows NT computer program (1994); “Endless Frontier,” the biography of Vannevar Bush, organizer of the Manhattan Project and architect of the partnership between science and the military during World War Two (1997); “The Diversity Advantage: Multicultural Identity in the New World Economy” (2000; revised, 2003); and "Married to Africa: a love story" (2009).

An enthusiastic review of Zachary's intellectual trajectory was published by The Atlantic Monthly:

Please send mail to me at g period zachary at gmail.com