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Happy Birthday to us – The Institute’s first 180 days were great!

14 Feb , 2015  | by:

Luke: February 2015 marks The Interdisciplinary Internet Institute’s 1/2 Birthday! It has been an exciting 6 months. Founded by 5 researchers who met at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society last September, the site has grown to 16 contributors all interested in how the internet affects our social, political, and personal lives.

Our content has covered how open data lets us track where celebrity’s take their taxis, why thousands of internet connected cameras are wide open for anyone to use as spying devices, Reddit’s reaction to the deluge of nude celebrity pictures that made the news in August, the launch of Facebook’s glittery competitor ello, the right to be forgotten, and on and on and on! Some of these stories were cross-posted in media such as The Conversation and the New York Times, others our authors wrote exclusively for our site.

These stories have been shared across Facebook, chirped at on Twitter, mentioned in EU Commission presentations and read in over 145 countries (no love from Greenland, or North Korea). At the top right of this page, we also provide links to ‘things that caught our eye’ and make the net ‘go round’.

Rehana: Also don’t forget – we had over 28’000 site visits (yes, it is unbelievable) in our first months of activity! If we continue to grow we might just achieve (cyber-)world domination by the end of 2015! Just saying…

Luke: We might. Anyways, our traffic continues to build and we look forward to what the next 6 months will bring.
We hope that the iii can evolve into a place for breaking research that matters and stories that surprise, while digging down into all the quirky bits of the internet in between. We also look forward to sharing some exciting new research plans that will culminate in a summit, preferably in the Bahamas, but we are open to the colder climates as well.

To briefly outline the co-founders combined research agenda, we will each talk about what we are interested in now and where we hope to go with the iii in the next few months.

Melinda: Why thank you for such a warm introduction Luke, lots of people like to forget about their new year’s resolutions at this time of year, but we at the iii, skip all that and just nerd out a bit, and talk about what we are excited, concerned, and curious about on the interwebs for in 2015. I’ll write something about the Silk Road conviction and what ramifications could possibly look for everyone online… As an American I am also very anxious to see what happens with Net Neutrality this year. Anna: Us non-American’s are right there with you, seeing as any US action taken in this area might influence us overseas as well.

Melinda: President Obama and the FCC (yeah you know me) seem to be pushing hard for an open internet, but just how open, remains to be seen. Moreover, Anna, your recent post on the (possible) identification of Muslim taxi drivers in New York highlights, one of the things I’m concerned about…

Anna: Me too Melinda, but it also fascinates me! That brings me to one of the two things I would like to delve deeper into over the next ½ year of the iii. I am curious to see which direction the debate on de-identification and re-identification will take, and how, if at all, this influences the debate on releasing open data (Luke: K-anonymity ftw!!). Furthermore, things with remotes, or that are remotely controllable have caught my eye, and while I will let Stefan and Michael do all the reporting on drones (boys and their toys), I will start with a series on other things that are remotely controlled, like cars, mobile phones, hard-drives and hearts (yes the beating ones inside of you). I’m thinking of calling it ‘Remotely Interested’ or ‘Re: moot court’, but that last one might be too lawyer-y.

Rehana: It’s hard to decide what’s going to be on my agenda. All of the above, is really interesting but best left in the hands of competent people who know what they’re talking about in those areas and yes, I mean the four of you! But I will read your posts with great interest… I’m excited to see what the NSA has in store for us this year. Also, the case that Microsoft has taken to the US Supreme Court with regard to handing over information that is stored outside of the US. Pretty sure it’s going to be a game-changer when it comes to the US government seeking data from foreign territories.

And, I’ll be closely following the European Parliament’s suggestion to splitting up Google’s services to allow for better competition (and maybe to be more privacy friendly) – but not sure if that’s against the principle of a free market and lacks innovative thinking… The World Economic Forum (WEF) was just held in Davos in Switzerland and internet governance was a hot topic there too – so much to learn about and so little time ;). Stefan, tell us what’s rocking your boat at the moment?

Stefan: After the EU Court of Justice’s Google Spain-decision on the removal of search results, it seems like the EU is slowly becoming an important internet regulator as well. I’m curious to see what else the Union has in store for us. Copyright reforms will be one issue. There will be discussions about making national copyright laws more flexible so that they are better able to adapt to new social and technological realities. Even stronger enforcement measures will be on the agenda as well.

2015 could also be the year in which the EU sets its first steps towards one unitary copyright law. Privacy and data protection is another topic I will closely follow. New EU-wide data protection rules may see the light of day this year – or next year. Will the EU take a leading role in privacy protection? I’ll write about it!

Luke: Yikes is there anything left!? I’ll be manufacturing some analytic dissent over networked additive manufacturing, ask some tough questions about data retention in the land down under, and probably ask what ever happened to all those online leaks sites. Although this is the plan, we’ll try to balance our forecasts and insight with the “what’s happening now(!)” in this crazy online world, and of course get more contributors on board to share their research and provide sharp commentary on everything else.

Anna: Speaking of new contributors… if you’re interested: why don’t you join us?

Everybody Now: The internet continues to transform our lives into an ever evolving ‘new normal’. The iii will continue to report on these trends, provide sharp commentary, and create grounded research on what it all means. So stay tuned…


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