The Study of the Internet: New Methods for New Technologies

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Wednesday, 5:30-6:30pm
Format: Roundtable Discussion
Lead: John Palfrey
Participants: Yochai Benkler, Rob Faris, Eszter Hargittai

What is the range of tools, disciplines, and research approaches that we can bring to bear on the study of the Internet and the study of the impact of new technologies on social, political, economic, legal, and other processes in both the online and offline spaces? This session will explore methods of studying the Internet’s societal implications, including empirical analysis, legal frameworks, policy perspectives, sociological surveys, and other methodologies. It will also surface and explore some of the challenges faced by researchers working with big data sets, with a particular focus on issues related to privacy, data security, and other considerations.

Required Readings

Related Case Examples

A Fellow's Response to Benkler and Zittrain Argument

by Benjamin Mako Hill 21:53, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

There was an interesting conversation at the end of the day on the failings of academe to provide meaningful innovations compared to markets -- especially in the areas of social medias. This turned into a more general conversation about the relationship of science (especially in the academy) and technology (especially in industry).

In my opinion, the core book on this subject is Pasteur's Quadrant by Stokes -- which also refers to a more widely used metaphor.

More succinctly, Harvey Brooks provides a great high-level review to Jonathan's provocation with a summary of the key ways that science facilitates industrial technology. I've written up a a bullet list in an AcaWiki summary of the article.

But even if we just look a the direct relationship, there's still a strong argument for academic science. Edwin Mansfield did a bunch of empirical studies (e.g., [1], [2]) on industrial innovation's very direct connections to academic work. His basic conclusion is that a big chunk of innovations (10% at a minimum) could not have been completed without major delay without academic research.