Future Histories: What Ada Lovelace, Tom Paine and the Paris Commune Have in Common

IILAH is excited to announce a public seminar with Lizzie O'Shea on her latest work 'Future Histories: What Ada Lovelace, Tom Paine, and the Paris Commune Can Teach Us About Digital Technology.'

Lizzie O'Shea, Future Histories: What Ada Lovelace, Tom Paine, and the Paris Commune Can Teach Us About Technology (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019).

In Future Histories, Lizzie O’Shea argues that we need to stop looking forward and start looking backwards. Weaving together histories of computing and social movements with modern theories of the mind, society, and self, O’Shea constructs a “usable past” that help us determine our digital future.

What, she asks, can the Paris Commune tell us about earlier experiments in sharing resources—like the Internet—in common? Can debates over digital access be guided by Tom Paine’s theories of democratic economic redistribution? And how is Elon Musk not a visionary but a throwback to Victorian-era utopians?

IILAH and the Digital Citizen's Network would like to invite you to attend O'Shea's seminar.  To register please click on the link below. Your registration will help us track attendance and optimise the venue space. For those who wish to read ahead, an adapted excerpt from O'Shea's book can be viewed here.

Register to attend

Acclaim for Future Histories:

“There has never been a better time to pull the politics of platform capitalism into the foreground where it belongs. Lizzie O’Shea brings a hacker’s curiosity, a historian’s reach and a lawyer’s precision to bear on our digitally saturated present, emerging with a compelling argument that a better world is there for the taking. ”

–Scott Ludlam, Former Australian Senator

“Before we became big data bundles for the lackeys of Dorsey, Jobs, Zuckerberg, and Bezos, to exploit, the digital revolution seemed to promise a democratic utopia, a commons in cyberspace not governed by neoliberal norms.  Can we realize that revolutionary dream and stop desiring our own domination?  Incredibly, yet thrillingly and plausibly, Lizzie O’Shea argues that, if only we can mobilize history to serve rather than enervate us, the answer is yes.”

–Stuart Jeffries, Author and Journalist


Lizzie O'Shea is a human rights lawyer, writer, and broadcaster. She is regularly featured on national television programs and radio to comment on law, digital technology, corporate responsibility, and human rights, and her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Guardian, and Sydney Morning Herald, among others.