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Published onMar 29, 2019

Many people are responsible for making this book what it is.

This book would never have been possible without the mentorship provided by Susan Crawford. The first person to truly recognize my mishmash of interests—spanning machine learning to urban policy—as an asset, Susan provided me with far more agency and responsibility than I deserved. Her personal and financial support was a wonderful gift.

I am indebted to many other mentors who have opened my eyes to a variety of issues at stake in technology and urban policy, and helped develop my critical eye: Yochai Benkler, Julia Freeland, Rayid Ghani, Michelle Mangan, Radhika Nagpal, Andrew Papachristos, Todd Reisz, Jim Travers, and Mitch Weiss.

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard has been a wonderful hub of friendship and intellectual inspiration. It is an honor to be a part of this extraordinary community, and I am grateful in particular for those who helped me develop the projects and ideas that led to this book: David Cruz, Gabe Cunningham, Ariel Ekblaw, Paul Kominers, Andrew Linzer, Jon Murley, Maria Smith, Dave Talbot, and Waide Warner.

My experience working for Boston’s Department of Innovation and Technology was an incredibly formative one, and in large part provided the backdrop for this book. I owe a great thanks to Jeff Liebman for granting me the unique opportunity to spend a year there. Patricia Boyle-McKenna, Jascha Franklin-Hodge, and Andrew Therriault were great leaders who created an atmosphere of service and innovation. Many others were wonderful mentors, colleagues, and friends: Alex Chen, Stefanie Costa-Leabo, Elijah de la Campa, Chris Dwelley, Joseph Finn, Peter Ganong, Jim Hooley, Nigel Jacob, Ramandeep Josen, Kayla Larkin, Howard Lim, Sam Lovison, Kim Lucas, Laura Melle, Chris Osgood, Kayla Patel, Jean-Louis Rochet, Luis Sano-Espinosa, Anne Schwieger, Steve Stephanou, Renee Walsh, Steve Walter, and all of Intern Island.

Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society was a wonderful place to spend a summer writing retreat. Thank you to everyone there, and especially Al Gidari, for graciously welcoming me.

My remarkable series editor, David Weinberger, helped transform my rough sketches of an idea into a fully developed book outline. He pushed me to hone my argument and convey it effectively. This project would never have gotten off the ground without his thoughtful aid.

The entire team at the MIT Press has been a treat to work with. I am deeply grateful for Gita Manaktala’s willingness to take a chance on a young and unproven writer, and her unflagging support. Through their constructive feedback, three anonymous reviewers gave me new perspectives on the book’s contributions and limitations. Alice Falk provided expert and meticulous copyediting.

The book was vastly improved by the thoughtful commentary and revisions provided by two fantastic editors. Chloe Fox helped me weave meaningful narratives and taught me a great deal about how to structure this project. Ciarán Finlayson provided incisive commentary that kept my arguments sharp. With their aid, I was able to turn my early manuscripts into something resembling a Real Book.

I have benefited from several friends who volunteered their time to review working drafts of the book: Varoon Bashyakarla, Evan Green, Ben Lempert, Robert Manduca, and Drew Ohringer. Zach Wehrwein introduced me to many of the books and ideas that provided an intellectual foundation for this project.

My parents, Jenny Altshuler and Barry Green, have always been my greatest teachers and supporters. Whether on vacation or driving to school, they never passed up an opportunity to demonstrate the value of education. My interdisciplinary approach stems from their example of lifelong learning. Through trips and long, meandering walks, they inculcated me with a love of cities from a young age.

Finally, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my incredible partner, Salomé Viljoen. Her fingerprints are everywhere in the book, from its intellectual framing to the structure of individual sentences to the fact of its completion. She remained remarkably patient and supportive through my many long nights and weekends of work, not to mention the countless drafts that I asked her to read. This book is a testament to her love.

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