Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
From discussions in courses and within the Quello Center Advisory Board, the Center has been developing a set of key issues tied to media, communication and information policy and practice. We’d welcome you thoughts on issues we’ve missed or issues noted that do not merit more sustained research and debate. Your feedback on this list would be most welcome, and will be posted as comments on this post.
I. Innovation-led Policy Issues
New Developments around Robotics and Artificial Intelligence: What are the implications for individual control, privacy, and security? Security is no longer so clearly a cyber issue as cyber security increasingly shapes the physical world of autonomous vehicles, drones, and robots.
Internet of Things (IoT): With tens of billions of things moving online, how can individuals protect their privacy and safety and well being as their environments are monitored and controlled by their movement through space? There are likely to be 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.
Wearables: What appears to be an incremental step in the IoT space could have major implications across many sectors, from health to privacy and surveillance.
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.
Free (and Open Source) Software: The prominence and future of free as well as open source software continues to evolve. Are rules, licensing, and institutional support, such as around the Free Software Foundation, meeting the needs of this free software community?
Big Data: How can individuals protect their privacy in the age of computational analytics and increasing capture of personal data and mass surveillance? What policies or practices can be developed to guide data collection, analysis, and public awareness?
Encryption: Advances in encryption technologies at a time of increasing threats to the privacy of individual communications, such as email, could lead to a massive uptake of tools to keep private communications private. How can this development be accelerated and spread across all sectors of the Internet community?
Internet2: Just as the development of the Internet within academia has shaped the future of communications, so might the next generation of the Internet – so-called Internet2 – have even greater implications in shaping the future of research and educational networking in the first instance, but public communications in the longer-term. Who is tracking its development and potential implications?
Other Contending Issues: Drones, Cloud computing, …
II. Problem-led Initiatives
Transparency: Many new issues of the digital age, such as concerns over privacy and surveillance, are tied to a lack of transparency. What is being done with your data, by whom, and for what purposes? In commercial and governmental settings, many public concerns could be addressed to a degree through the provision of greater transparency, and the accountability that should follow.
Censorship and Internet Filtering: Internet filtering and censorship was limited to a few states at the turn of the century. But over the last decade, fueled by fear of radical extremist content, and associated fears of self-radicalization, censorship has spread to most nation states. Are we entering a new digital world in which Internet content filtering is the norm? What can be done to mitigate the impact on freedom of expression and freedom of connection?
Psychological Manipulation: Citizen and consumers are increasingly worried about the ways in which they can be manipulated by advertising, (fake) news, social media and more that leads them to vote, buy, protest, or otherwise act in ways that the purveyors of the new propaganda of the digital age would like. While many worried about propaganda around the mass media, should there be comparable attention given to the hacking of psychological processes by the designers of digital media content? Is this a critical focus for consumer protection?
(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.
Privacy and Surveillance: The release of documents by Edward Snowden has joined with other events to draw increasing attention to the threats of mass unwarranted surveillance. It has been an enduring issue, but it is increasingly clear that developments heretofore perceived to be impossible are increasingly feasible and being used to monitor individuals. What can be done?
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 records are at stake.’
III. Enduring Policy Issues Reshaped by Digital Media and Information Developments
Media 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, with new media, in print media, automated text generation, and more.
Diversity of Content: In a global Internet context, how can we reasonably quantify or address issues of diversity in local and national media? Does diversity become more important in a digital age in which individuals will go online or on satellite services if the mainstream media in a nation ignore content of interest to their background?
Freedom of Expression: New and enduring challenges to expression in the digital age.
IV. Changing Media and Information Policy and Governance
Communication Policy: 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.
Universal Access v Universal Service: With citizens and consumers dropping some traditional services, such as fixed line phones, how can universal service be best translated into the digital age of broadband services?
Network Neutrality: Should there be Internet fast lanes and more? Efforts to ensure the fair treatment of content, from multiple providers, through regulation has been one of the more contentious issues in the USA. To some, the issue has been ‘beaten to death’, but it has been brought to life again through the regulatory initiatives of FCC Chairman Wheeler, and more recently with the new Trump Administration, where the fate of net neutrality is problematic. Can we research the implications of this policy?
Internet Governance and Policy: 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.
Acknowledgements: In addition to the Quello Advisory Board, special thanks to some of my students for their stimulating discussion that surfaced many of these issues. Thanks to Jingwei Cheng, Bingzhe Li, and Irem Yildirim, for their contributions to this list.
Saturday, December 17th, 2016
Aleks Yankelevich and Mitch Shapiro toast (with new Quello mugs!) the completion of their two reports, both of which were central to a major Quello Center project on Wireless Innovation in Last Mile Access (WILMA). Aleks led the report on regulatory issues surrounding key spectrum of value to wireless, and Mitch led the report on business strategy case studies of wireless initiatives. Both reports will be released in the coming months when reviews are completed.
Monday, November 21st, 2016
The Information and Media PhD program at Michigan State University seeks outstanding students who wish to join a unique interdisciplinary program of study at the intersection of the social sciences and technical systems. The faculty develop and apply research about media and society and evolving information and communication technologies to important problems. The program engages students to become active scholars, teachers, and leaders in the media and information fields.
The PhD program is offered jointly by the Department of Advertising + Public Relations, the School of Journalism, and the Department of Media and Information, and gives students access to fifty PhD faculty with research interests that span important current and emerging issues in media and information studies. Students get involved early on in projects, complementing theoretical coursework with hands-on research experiences.
Particularly strong research interests of our faculty include:
• Internet Studies
• Social media and social computing
• Human-computer interaction
• Socio technical systems and collective intelligence
• Management information systems
• ICT and health
• Information and Communication and Development (ICTD)
• Games and meaningful play
• Media effects on individuals and society
• Media, information and Internet policy, with links to Quello Center
The deadline for applications for the Fall 2017 cohort is January 1, 2017. In addition, we invite applications throughout the year as we accept students into the PhD program on a rolling basis. Steps to apply are detailed at http://cas.msu.edu/misphd/.
All of our current students are supported by graduate teaching and research assistantships with generous stipends of $2000+ per month, tuition remission, and health benefits. University fellowships, dissertation completion fellowships, summer research fellowships, and stipends for travel to academic conferences are available for students.
Over three-fourths of our graduates are hired into faculty positions at four-year. They are found in departments of mass media, journalism, advertising, public relations, and information studies across the United States and around the world. Others go on to careers in public service and business.
The 2015 QS World University rankings place MSU 6th in the world and 5th in North America in communication and media studies. The National Communication Association (NCA), in their most recent doctoral program reputation study, ranked MSU’s Ph.D. programs as No. 1 in educating researchers in communication technology, and in the top four in mass communication. Michigan State University ranked third in frequency of faculty publication in communication in a study reported in The Electronic Journal of Communication in 2012.
East Lansing and the greater Lansing area offer a vibrant cultural environment with easy access to a variety of outdoor activities and the scenic beauty of our state year-round. Blending urban and sub-urban living, it is one of the nation’s most affordable places to complete a doctoral program in media and information studies.
To learn more, see our web page, at: http://cas.msu.edu/programs/graduate-studies/apply/
Monday, October 24th, 2016
Christine L. Borgman’s Quello Lecture on ‘Motivations for Sharing and Reusing Data:
Complexities and Contradictions in the Use of a Digital Data Archive’ presented for the Quello Center, Michigan State University, on October 5, 2016. The talk draws on her research with DANS, the Data Archiving and Networked Services of the Netherlands, and the UCLA Center for Knowledge Infrastructures.
Researchers face competing challenges for access to their data. One is the pressure to make their data open in response to mandates from funding agencies, journals, and science policy makers. Second is the lack of resources – human, technical, economic, and institutional – to make their data open. Third is that good reasons exist to maintain control of their data, whether to protect the confidentiality of human subjects, to gain competitive advantage over other researchers, or the sheer difficulty of extracting data from the contexts in which they originated. Researchers are encouraged – or required – to contribute their data to archives, yet surprisingly little is known about the uses and users of digital data archives, about relationships between users and the staff of data archives, or how these behaviors vary by discipline, geographic region, policy, and other factors. Digital data archives are not a single type of institution, however. They vary widely in organizational structure, mission, collection, funding, and relationships to their users and other stakeholders. This talk draws upon an exploratory study of DANS, the Data Archiving and Networked Services of the Netherlands. We mined transaction logs to draw samples of contributors to DANS and consumers of DANS data (Borgman, Scharnhorst, Van den Berg, Van de Sompel, & Treloar, 2015) and then conducted interviews with DANS archivists, contributors, and consumers to examine who contributes data to DANS and why, who consumes data from DANS and why, and what roles archivists play in acquiring and disseminating data. Early findings suggest that motivations are complex, varied, and often contradictory, and that the uses and users of DANS are far more diverse than anticipated. Implications of these findings, which draw upon the premises of the presenter’s recent book Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World (2015), raise concerns for stakeholders in research data such as scholars, students, librarians, funding agencies, policy makers, publishers, and the public.
Borgman, C. L. (2015). Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.
Borgman, C. L., Scharnhorst, A., Van den Berg, H., Van de Sompel, H., & Treloar, A. (2015). Who uses the digital data archive? An exploratory study of DANS. Presented at the Association for Information Science and Technology, St Louis, MO: Information Today.
Christine L. Borgman, Distinguished Professor and Presidential Chair in Information Studies at UCLA, is the author of more than 250 publications in information studies, computer science, and communication. These include three books from MIT Press: Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World (2015), winner of the 2015 American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE Award) in Computing and Information Sciences; Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet (2007); and From Gutenberg to the Global Information Infrastructure: Access to Information in a Networked World (2000). The latter two books won the Best Information Science Book of the Year award from the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIST). Professor Borgman is Chair of the Committee to Visit the Harvard Library and Co-Chair of the CODATA-ICSTI Task Group on Data Citation and Attribution. She is a member of the Library of Congress Scholars Council; the Board of Directors of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC); the Council of the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICSPR); the CLARIAH International Advisory Panel; the advisory board to Authorea; and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Association for Computing Machinery. At UCLA, she directs the Center for Knowledge Infrastructures with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and other sources.
Monday, September 26th, 2016
A Challenge to Virtual Reality
A. Michael Noll
September 26, 2016
© 2016 AMN
Is today’s virtual reality little more than real fantasy?
Back in the 1960s, Maurice Constant of the National Film board of Canada visited Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. I was in the audience listening to him challenge us to make a system that would allow a designer to actually mold with their hands a virtual clay that existed only in the computer – seeing and feeling simultaneously in 3D. I was challenged by this vision, and subsequently designed and built an interactive 3D stereoscopic system that offered tactile feeling through force feedback, along with a stereoscopic display. This project started in the late 1960s and was the subject of my doctoral dissertation. I now challenge today’s haptic and virtual reality communities to create the technology to implement Maurice’s vision.
My research was completed in 1971 and resulted in a US patent and also a published paper. The system I invented had 3D force feedback, in which virtual objects had actual weight, in addition to feel. There also was simultaneous stereoscopic real-time display. The next step in my research would have been a 3D head-mounted display to superimpose the computer-generated 3D imagery on reality with half-silvered mirrors, and some sort of finger feel. However, my career changed direction, as I accepted an assignment on the staff of the President’s Science Advisor, and I did not continue this research.
One application for my 3D “feelie” that I proposed was to facilitate tactile telecommunication. I suggested that a person could feel cloth, or other objects, over distances – in effect, a “touch” telephone.
It is perplexing that with the advances in technology that have occurred since the early 1970s that what is today called “virtual reality” and “haptic” seem behind our vision back then. I therefore issue my challenge to today’s community to create what was envisioned decades ago. Otherwise, much of today’s virtual reality indeed is little more than real fantasy.
 Noll, A. Michael, “Tactile man-machine communication system,” US Patent 3,919,691, filed May 26, 1971. http://www.google.com/patents/US3919691
 Noll, A. Michael, “Man-Machine Tactile Communication,” SID Journal (The Official Journal of the Society for Information Display), Vol. 1, No. 2, (July/August 1972), pp. 5-11.
Thursday, February 26th, 2015
MSU’s Quello Center is launching a study of the impact of net neutrality.
With the support for net neutrality regulations at the FCC, and in the White House, the debate should quickly move from theoretical speculation to empirical realities: What will be the actual impact of net neutrality regulation?
The net neutrality debate has galvanized a wide variety of stakeholders in opposing camps around the wisdom of this regulation on the future of a global, open and secure Internet. Proponents argue that net neutrality will keep the Internet open and in line with its early vision by not advantaging those who can pay for fast lanes, while opponents have raised numerous concerns about the role regulation could play in constraining efficiency, competition, investment, and innovation of the Internet and patterns of its use by individuals, households, business and industry. It has become a politically and commercially contentious issue that has become increasingly partisan and commensurately over simplified around competing positions. However, from all sides of this debate, the implications are expected to be of major importance to the future of the Internet in the US, but also globally, as other nations will be influenced by policy and regulatory shifts in the United States.
It is therefore important that claims about the value and risk of net neutrality become a focus of independent empirical research. In many ways, the FCC’s decision on net neutrality presents an opportunity for a natural experiment that will provide real evidence on the actual role that net neutrality will play for actors across the Internet and telecommunication industries, but also users and consumers of Internet services.
Academic research needs to be analytically skeptical and seek to challenge taken-for-granted assumptions on both sides of the debate with empirical research and analysis. The Quello Center is well positioned to conduct this research. It was established by an endowment in honor of former FCC Commissioner, James H. Quello, to study media and information policy in a neutral and dispassionate way. The Center’s endowment provides the independence and wherewithal to launch this project with an eye towards expansion of the project if justified by the support of its Advisory Committee, sponsorship and other sources of funding, such as foundations concerned with the social and economic futures of the Internet.
The project will be led by Professor Bill Dutton, the new Director of the Quello Center. Before taking this position, Bill was founding Director of the Oxford Internet Institute and Professor of Internet Studies at the University of Oxford. Other MSU and Quello faculty involved in this project include:
Staff of the Quello Center, including Mitchell Shapiro, and an Assistant Research Professor for whom a new search is underway, will be committed to this project, and we will develop collaborations with faculty and practitioners with an interest in supporting and joining this research initiative.
The Quello Center welcomes expressions of support and offers of collaboration or sponsorship on what is an important albeit complex and challenging issue for policy research. If you wish to comment on, or support this research initiative, please contact Bill Dutton, or any of the faculty associates.
Contact: Professor Dutton at Quello@msu.edu
Thursday, October 30th, 2014
Facing the nation’s largest-ever municipal bankruptcy, the city of Detroit is emerging as a test bed for initiatives aimed at reversing the city’s longstanding decline. These efforts are coming from a range of sources, including federal, state and local governments, major corporations, startups and startup incubators, social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, non-profits and citizen-driven community groups. While the depth and dimensions of Detroit’s challenges may be historically unique, so too are the opportunities for revitalization-focused communication, computation and collaboration afforded by today’s information and communication technologies (ICT).
The unprecedented nature of both the crisis and the potential power of ICT-enabled responses to it raise a set of questions with significance not only to Detroit’s citizens and businesses, but also to cities facing similar challenges in the U.S. and the world.
– To what extent and in what specific ways are ICTs being used to support revitalization efforts in Detroit?
– How is such usage impacting the success of such efforts, and which of these impacts were intended and which were not?
– Does ICT usage and impacts vary by type of organization and/or by the specific goals and sectors they target for revitalization?
– What combinations of organization- and project-type seem best suited to leverage the power of ICT to achieve revitalization goals?
– How important are leadership and organizational structure and processes in determining how successful an organization and project will be in using ICT to help achieve its revitalization goals?
– In what ways does the use of ICT impact the structure, function and effectiveness of revitalization-focused organizations and projects, and to what extent does this impact vary by type of organization, project and project goals?
– To what extent are obstacles to ICT usage (e.g., lack of connectivity, affordability, digital literacy) a constraint on the success of revitalization projects? And are these constraints particularly problematic for particular types of organizations, projects and goals?
Our exploratory research is initially focused on the role of collaborative networks in the revitalisation of Detroit. This focused project will enable us to refine our understanding of the range of ICT initiatives involved in supporting effective revitalization efforts in Detroit and to develop a richer theoretical understanding of the potential for collaboration network organisations, among other types of initiatives, to develop and sustain healthy economic, social and political systems.
This project is being developed by Mitch Shapiro, Alison Keesey and Bill Dutton in its early phases.