William H. Dutton
William H. Dutton is the Quello Professor of Media and Information at MSU, where he directs the Quello Center. Bill’s research is focused on Internet Studies, and the elaboration of his conception of ‘The Fifth Estate‘ of the Internet realm, which has generated new research projects and a book in progress. Prior to arriving at MSU, Bill was the Professor of Internet Studies, University of Oxford, where he was the Founding Director of the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), and Fellow of Balliol College. Before coming to Oxford in 2002, he was a Professor in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, where he remains an Emeritus Professor. In the UK, he was a Fulbright Scholar 1986-87, and was National Director of the UK’s Programme on Information and Communication Technologies (PICT) from 1993 to 1996.
Monday, February 9th, 2015
Tomorrow, 10 February, is Safer Internet Day. It might not appear to be a critical issue, but actually, one of the key initiatives over the coming years will inevitably focus on better addressing learning and education about how to use the Internet and related technologies, such as the Web and social media. We teach people how to write, but we seldom teach people how to write for and on the Internet. Issues of etiquette, safety, privacy, and more, all come together in creating a culture that respects the communicative power of the Internet, and uses it accordingly. Information about the day is available online at: http://www.saferinternetday.org/web/guest/sid-2015 Take it seriously, as the Quello Center does.
Thursday, February 5th, 2015
by Avshalom Ginosar
“Re-inventing Journalism” – this was the title of an international academic conference that took place in Winterthur, Switzerland (15 minutes from Zurich by train), on February 5th-6th. More than an hundred scholars, most of them from Europe, attended the conference.
Most of the 23 different workshops and presentations addressed, in one way or another, the transition of journalism onto the online world. It seems that this issue occupies not only the industry of news which keeps looking for the successful new business model, but it is an issue of great confusion and concern for the academic community as well. Scholars from different countries and different academic institutions are looking not only for new definitions of journalism and journalists; rather, they question the traditional theories of journalism and look for new theoretical directions, more suitable to the digital era of journalism. In fact, in all the sessions I attended, I heard more questions than answers.
The highlights of the conference were two keynote talks by Prof. Jane Singer of the City University in London, and of Wolfgang Blau, who is now the Director of Digital Strategy at the British Guardian, and previously was the editor of the online version of the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit. These two figures knew about digital journalism than most of us attending, and both raised questions about its future. However, both of them certainly did not bury journalism as an occupation or as a social activity. On the contrary, both are very optimistic regarding the future of journalism in the digital and mobile world although as a journalism that will be quite different from the journalism to which we have grown accustomed for decades.
I would have welcomed more clarity on visions of that future, by these experts, but of course, they were journalists, not futurists. Perhaps readers might be able to suggest future directions or steer us to insightful work in this area?
Saturday, January 24th, 2015
We had a brief interview with Professor Charles Steinfield before a seminar he presented on the role of information and communication technologies for development, focusing on their role in the agricultural context. Distilling key lessons learned from his field research with Professor Susan Wyche, he touches on the kinds of technologies being used, the implications of their use, and the barriers to further success. This brief overview conveys the substantive areas he addressed in more depth in the seminar that followed. See the short video at: https://vimeo.com/110827930
Professor Steinfield’s work is supported by USAID, which funds MSU’s Global Center for Food Systems Innovation (GCFSI). A copy of his report with Susan Wyche on ICTs and development is available from the GCFSI web site at http://gcfsi.isp.msu.edu.
Friday, January 16th, 2015
There are moments in which the “world” stands together; I mean the democratic-liberal world and all those in other parts of the globe who wish to join the democratic-liberal part. The three terrorist attacks in Paris were one of these moments. It is understandable that everyone felt sympathy for the victims and their families. However, the terrorists in Paris did not murder only innocent people; they severely injured two of the fundamental values of the democratic-liberal world as well: freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Therefore, it is obvious that millions demonstrated not only to express their grief and anger, but to support the preservation of these two values.
One way to express this support was the publishing news of the first front page of Charlie Hebdo, following the massacre in its office. Every novice journalist and even every freshman in journalism studies understands that the publishing of this story and the new cartoon of Mohamad by Charlie Hebdo was a news-event that professionally was worthy to be published. Furthermore, the publishing of this story was the ultimate way to demonstrate that the terrorists did not succeed in murdering the democratic value of freedom of speech. And indeed, many newspapers, TV channels, and news sites all over the democratic world and beyond published the first page with the new cartoon.
However, it was not the case in the UK; most of the British media decided that the new cartoon is not publishable.* Why? The editor of The Independent admitted that he simply was afraid. Sky News cut a live interview in mid-course, simply because the French journalist being interviewed raised up the front page of the Charlie Hebdo with the cartoon for the camera, The news anchor explained that they acted in this way in order not to offend their audience. I cannot find other terms to describe these two decisions in the British media, other than to note the hypocrisy on the one hand and a retreat from a core journalistic code that is central to the role of a journalist on the other. The worst thing is that such behavior encourages the extremists and sends the message that terror is rewarding.
Here is the link to the interview stopped on Sky News: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VN3LCy2yoBg
And here is the link to the interview with the editor of The Independent: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jan/08/charlie-hebdo-muhammad-cartoons-independent-amol-rajan
*Articles about the coverage by British media and their justifications can be found at: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jan/11/charlie-hebdo-cartoons-uk-press-publish and http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jan/13/charlie-hebdo-cover-magazine-prophet-muhammad
Thursday, January 15th, 2015
At the last meeting of the Quello Center Advisory Board, in the late Fall of 2014, we discussed key issues tied to media, communication and information policy and practice. The following list is a snapshot of the key issues emerging from that discussion, organized by general categories. Feedback on this list would be most welcome, and will be posted as comments on this post.
Innovation-led Policy Issues
The Future of Content Delivery: Content delivery, particularly around broadcasting of film and television, in the digital age: technology, business models, and social impact of the rapidly developing ecosystem, such as on localism, diversity, and quality.
Wearables: What appears to be an incremental step could have major implications across many sectors, from health to privacy and surveillance.
Regulation of the Internet of Things: Implications for urban informatics, transportation and environmental systems, systems in the household, and worn (wearables above). A possible focus within this set would be on developments in households.
Internet2: Implications for shaping the future of research and educational networking.
Other Contending Issues: Big data, drones, Cloud computing, …
(In)Equities in Access: Inequalities in access to communication and information services might be growing locally and globally, despite the move to digital media and ICTs. The concept of a digital divide may no longer be adequate to capture these developments.
ICT4D or Internet for Development: Policy and technology initiatives in communication to support developing nations and regions, both in emergency responses, such as in relation to infectious diseases, or around more explicit economic development issues.
Digital Preservation: Despite discussion over more than a decade, it merits more attention, and stronger links with policy developments, such as ‘right to forget’. ‘Our cultural and historical record are at stake.’
Evolving Policy Issues Reshaped by Digital Media and Information Developments
Universal Access v Universal Service: With citizens and consumers dropping some traditional services, such as fixed line phones, do we need to refocus on providing a minimal level of broadband access to everyone, independent of devices?
Concentration and the Plurality of Voices: Trends in the diversity and plurality of ownership, and sources of content, particularly around news. Early work on media concentration needs new frameworks for addressing global trends on the Web, in print media, automated text generation, and more.
Freedom of Expression: New and enduring challenges to expression in the digital age.
Media and Information Policy and Governance
Rewrite of the 1934 Communications Act, last up-dated in 1996: This is unlikely to occur in the current political environment, but is nevertheless a critical focus.
Network Neutrality: Should there be Internet fast lanes and more? Issue has been ‘beaten to death’, but brought to life again through the public statements of Chairman Wheeler and President Obama. Huge implications for better or worse.
Future of Internet Governance: Normative and empirical perspectives on governance of the Internet at the global and national level. Timely issue critical to future of the Internet, and a global information age, and rise of national Internet policy initiatives.
Wednesday, January 14th, 2015
It seems that nearly every physical object either has a sensor, or soon will. And that can lead to censoring by government or by us.
The tires in an automobile have sensors of the tire air pressure, which is a good thing since it informs us when the tire needs more air. Sensors also inform us when the tire has worn enough to need replacement, and that too is a good thing. However, when the tire information is transmitted to a tire store that then attempts to make a sale that can be an invasion of privacy. When the car transmits information about where it has been that also raises questions about invasions of privacy.
Light switches are accessible over the Internet and thus have sensors as to whether they are on or off. Thermostats that are Internet accessible sense room temperatures. When hacking occurs there will be risks to our homes, and also to our privacy.
Even people have sensors of body temperature and heart rate. Drones are multiplying and are being use to track us and potentially invade our private lives.
One potential problem is that sensors can lead to censoring if government gains access to the information. There also is the risk of self-censorship in what we say and where we go.
Where will this fascination with sensors lead? What crises will be created and will they be sufficient to halt the progress or create adequate protection and limits? How much censorship or we willing to accept in return for the benefits of sensors?
Quello Associate and Professor Emeritus of Communications, Annenberg School at the University of Southern California
Saturday, January 10th, 2015
Mitch Shapiro and I have compiled a list of revitalisation-focused projects in Detroit, Michigan, that make some use of ICT (mainly web sites). The list is based on online and desk research, but also a few preliminary interviews. We’d appreciate feedback on projects we may have missed as we will be continuing to explore this field.
Wednesday, December 31st, 2014
Here is the draft syllabus for Media and Information Policy (TC 850), which will be offered by Bill Dutton in the Spring Semester, beginning in January 2015. Please email Bill or post comments if you have thoughts on ways to improve the topics, readings or other aspects of this course. 850 Course-13JAN15
Saturday, December 20th, 2014
One of our Visiting Quello Research Fellows, Sung Wook Ji, has accepted a position as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Radio, Television, and Digital Media at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. We congratulate him on this appointment, and wish him the very best in his rapidly evolving career. He will be joining SIU in January 2015.
Sung came to MSU as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Information in 2012, where he taught a graduate course on the economic structure of telecommunication, and an undergraduate course on media strategies. While at MSU, he became involved in a important policy relevant research projects, was able to publish a number of well-placed publications, and present a several key conference presentations. Central research projects included one on search engine competition, which was funded by NAVER, and a study of the international market for telecommunication equipment vendors, for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
His journal publications focused on emerging developments in digital content delivery that were published in the Journal of Media Economics, Internet & Higher Education, Telecommunications Policy, and The Information Society. Before I came to MSU, Sung Wook Ji was the lead author, with David Waterman, on a key chapter in my edited book, entitled ‘The Impact of the Internet on Media Industries: An Economic Perspective’, in Society and the Internet: How Information and Social Networks are Changing our Lives, edited by Mark Graham and William H. Dutton (Oxford University Press 2014). He wrote another book chapter that is forthcoming with David Waterman, entitled ‘Vertical Ownership, Technology and Programming Content’ for the Handbook on Media Economics, edited by Robert Picard at the Reuters Institute at Oxford, and Steve Wildman, the founding director of the Quello Center.
In addition, while at MSU, Sung Wook volunteered to organise the University’s Visiting International Professionals Program (VIPP), which brought executives to East Lansing to study developments in media and information policy, centered around a set of lectures presented at the Quello Center. Given the centrality and quality of his research, his contributions to teaching and research activities at the Quello Center and MSU, and his collegiality, he will be missed by the Quello Center. We hope to continue to involve Sung Wook in our growing network of Quello academics.
Saturday, December 13th, 2014
The Quello Center has just released a report on ‘Mobile Today and Tomorrow’ by a team of researchers from the Quello Center, Oxford Consulting, and Huawei Technologies. It explores trends in mobile and speculates on future developments. It is anchored in a review of literature, and a set of interviews with leading experts in many aspects of mobile technology, use and policy. It differs from many other overviews in being based on a social science perspective on mobile and striving to be global in its perspective. We invite comments and recommendations on this report and directions for taking further research. The paper is free online as:
Dutton, William H. and Law, Ginette and Groselj, Darja and Hangler, Frank and Vidan, Gili and CHENG, Lin and LU, Xiaobin and ZHI, Hui and ZHAO, Qiyong and WANG, Bin, Mobile Communication Today and Tomorrow (December 4, 2014). A Quello Policy Research Paper, Quello Center, Michigan State University.. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2534236