New Position as Quello Chair at MSU

After 12 great years at Oxford, I am delighted to be joining MSU as their new Quello Professor. Not sure how my former USC Trojan colleagues will react to me joining the Spartans!  The current Director of the Quello Center, Professor Steve Wildman, a recent Chief Economist at the FCC, posted a much appreciated announcement of the appointment. I’ll be joining MSU in August 2014 and look forward to staying in touch with you over this and related blogs in the future. One of my goals will be to put the Internet and Web into the center of a forward strategy for building the Quello Center’s role in the new digital world of communication research, policy and regulation. My work as a co-principal on the Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre will continue at MSU, as will my work on the Fifth Estate, partly through the support of a project on collaboration at the DTU (Danmarks Tekniske Universitet) as well as through support of the Quello Center.  At MSU, I will hold the James H. Quello Chair of Media and Information Policy.

Announcement by MSU http://cas.msu.edu/oxford-university-professor-named-quello-chair/

 

Financial Times Opts for Independence from Press Regulation

Hope springs eternal. Wonderful to learn that the FT has opted out of both the new Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), as well as the Parliament-backed Royal Charter system, which threatens to undermine the independence of the press in Britain. The paper is creating its own self-regulatory system through a new ‘editorial complaints commissioner’, according to The Independent (18 April 2014) and PressGazette, see: http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/financial-times-opts-out-ipso-favour-its-own-system-regulation  The FT might continue to play a role in the Fourth Estate if it continues to guard its independence. Hopefully other papers will follow its lead.

The Fifth Estate: Not the Movie

A number of colleagues have brought my attention to the popular launch of a movie, entitled The Fifth Estate. It is not unrelated to my work on the Fifth Estate, as it focuses on WikiLeaks, and such whistle-blowing Web sites are one of many ways in which networked individuals can hold institutions more accountable. For those who like the movie or the idea of a Fifth Estate, I invite you to read more. It is actually used by me as a means to convey the significance of the Internet as a means for empowering networked individuals in ways comparable to the Fourth Estate, the press, of an earlier era. See, for example:

Dutton, W. H. (2007), ‘Through the Network (of Networks) – the Fifth Estate’, Inaugural lecture, Examination Schools, University of Oxford, 15 October. Available online at: http://webcast.oii.ox.ac.uk/?view=Webcast&ID=20071015_208

 

 Dutton, W. H. (2009), ‘Democracy on the Line: The Fifth Estate?’, Oxford Today, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 12-15.

 

 Dutton, W. H. (2009), ‘The Fifth Estate Emerging through the Network of Networks’, Prometheus, Vol. 27, No. 1, March: pp. 1-15.

 

Dutton, W. H. (2010), ‘Democratic Potential of the Fifth Estate’, PerAda Magazine, http://www.perada-magazine.eu/pdf/003003/003003.pdf

Dutton, W. H. (2010), ‘The Fifth Estate Emerging Through the Internet and Freedom of Expression’, pp. 22-25 in A News Future and the Future of the Journalism Profession: An IPI Report. International Press Institute and the Poytner Institute.

 

 Dutton, W. H. (2010), ‘The Fifth Estate: Democratic Social Accountability through the Emerging Network of Networks’, pp. 3-18 in Nixon, P. G., Koutrakou, V. N., and Rawal, R. (Eds), Understanding E-Government in Europe: Issues and Challenges. London: Routledge.

 

Dutton, W. H. (2011), ‘A Networked World Needs a Fifth Estate’, Wired Magazine, 22 October, http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2011/11/ideas-bank/william-dutton  

 

 Dutton, W. H. (2012), ‘The Fifth Estate: A New Governance Challenge’, pp. 584-98 in Levi-Faur, D. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Newman, N., Dutton, W. H., and Blank, G. (2012), ‘Social Media in the Changing Ecology of News: The Fourth and Fifth Estates in Britain’, International Journal of Internet Science, 7(1): 6-22.

 

 Dutton, W. H. (2013), ‘The Internet and Democratic Accountability: The Rise of the Fifth Estate’, pp. 39-55 in Lee, F.L.F., Leung, L., Qui, J. L., and Chu, D.S.C. (eds), Frontiers in New Media Research. Abbingdon: Informa, Taylor and Francis/Routledge.

 

 Dutton, W. H., and Dubois, E. (2013), ‘The Fifth Estate of the Digital World’, pp. 131-43 in Youngs, G. (ed.), Digital World: Connectivity, Creativity and Rights. London: Routledge.

 

 Dubois, E., and Dutton, W. H. (2013), ‘The Fifth Estate in Internet Governance: Collective Accountability of a Canadian Policy Initiative’, Revue française d’Etudes Américaines RFEA, forthcoming.

 

 

What Can You Say Online?

The Economist recently addressed the chilling effect that libel law is likely to have on Twitter, arguing that: ‘Now it [Twitter] seems to fall under the law’s shadow to a greater extent than similar speech does on the offline world’ (November 24, 2012: 37). But it is not simply libel law that could undermine freedom of expression online, it is also criminal laws addressing speech in largely pre-Internet aware days.

Taken together, Internet users – three-quarters of the British public – must be wondering what they can say online. For those in doubt in the aftermath of some actions taken against Twitter users and other online netizens, you may find a recent blog by Roger Darlington to be a helpful place to start in thinking seriously about this question.

Roger Darlington, a former member of the Consumer Panel at Ofcom, has posted a blog, entitled ‘What can’t you say on the Internet?’. He lays on the various viewpoints on this question, as well as UK legislation of relevance. You can read his blog at http://www.rogerdarlington.me.uk/commswatch/?p=4647 Take a look at Section 127 of the Communications Act of 2003, along with Section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988.

I hope you read this for yourself, but Roger argues that a strict interpretation of UK law could underpin ‘a staggering amount of content to be prosecuted under the criminal law.’ This leads him to conclude that it is time to modernize law and regulation. From his perspective, which I share, there is a need to protect speech online such that people are not subject to inappropriate or disproportionate punishments for such things as tweeting a bad joke or expressing a viewpoint that might be viewed as malicious or indecent.

Consider Roger’s viewpoint and let me know if you have a constructive view on this topic. Roger believes there should be more consistency across media, while I believe that the different communication infrastructures are different in ways that require unique regulatory frameworks. It may be that striving for consistency has led to this disproportionate coverage of online expression. In any case, I agree that this issue will only grow in importance as more communication shifts to the Internet. Consumers need to know what they can and cannot say or this uncertainty alone could have a chilling effect on speech.

There will be an increasing array of issues driven by the convergence of media and the Internet. Content regulation is certainly one key example of such an issue. Over decades, standards of expression on television have become relatively well understood, even if they are sometimes breached and the subject of complaints. But the Internet is not television and is not and – it seems to me – cannot be regulated like television. As but one example, 72 hours of video are posted on YouTube every minute, and this is only one of many video sites on the Internet.

I hope you find Roger’s blog helpful – eye opening – in framing this issue for consumers and netizens. It also provides a nice example of law not keeping up with technological change, and becoming an unintended but unanticipated constraint on technological change. If I have this wrong, let me know.

Whichever Estate: Exactly Right

Whichever Estate: Exactly Right

Mitt Romney has been accused of a number of gaffes, but one seems a bit unfair, as he spoke of ‘… some in the Fourth Estate, or whichever estate, who are more interested in finding something to write about …’.* Well – Candidate Romney is not the only person to wonder what to call the new role of the Internet and social media in creating an estate of the 21st Century that is every bit as important as the press since the 18th Century. I’ve called it the Fifth Estate, and a piece of mine with others was published today about the interrelationship between the Fourth and Fifth Estate in Britain. Hope you have a chance to read it and put a name to this new estate of the Internet realm. See: http://www.ijis.net/ijis7_1/ijis7_1_newman_et_al_pre.html  So it is exactly right to recognize an estate other than the Fourth.

 

*Quoted from Chris McGreal, ‘Rivals seize on candidate’s string of gaffes’, The Guardian, 1 August 2012, p. 17.

Cities and the Internet: New Perspectives

I’ve certainly been involved in research on the role of new information and communication technologies in shaping local and urban communities, such as with my work on Wired Cities from the late-1970s, when interactive cable communication was expected to support local and interactive communication in ways that would support community. Later I was involved with research on Santa Monica, California’s first electronic city hall, the Public Electronic Network (PEN), and I’ve followed work on information technology and communities since. However, in current discussions of future cities and superfast broadband and cities, I don’t have a clear sense of the dominant perspectives on the societal implications of new technologies. Are they similar to before, but with new technologies, or is there a different perspective on the role of new technology in communities?

I’d welcome tips on where to look, recent work, etc.

OeSS Seminar at the OII: The Town Hall in the Digital Era of Social Media: 5 March 2012 from 14.00-15.00

Andrea Kavanaugh from the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech will be visiting the OII on Monday 5th March and will be giving a talk between 14:00 and 15:00 in the Meeting Room at 1 St Giles. If you would like to attend, please drop an email to: events@oii.ox.ac.uk

Andrea’s talk will be entitled: ‘Participation in the Town Square in the Era of Web 2.0’. It is a unique case study of using computational approaches – eResearch – to enhance community discussion. Here is a brief abstract:

Collective decision-making is central to the quality of life in communities, towns, and city neighbourhoods throughout the US whether it is routine and long term planning or timely and critical follow up to crises. How can social software together with network analysis and data mining help to harness and model these myriad online resources and social interactions to support and foster broader and more diverse civic participation in America’s communities? We envision a single unified and comprehensive site – what we are calling a Virtual Town Square based on an automated, continuous aggregation of locally relevant online content generated elsewhere by others with aggregated and built-in social interaction and discussion. Our research objectives are to: 1) design, build and investigate a virtual town square (VTS) for geographic communities; 2) model communication behaviour and effects related to the use of social software, including VTS, by diverse users (e.g., civic participation, social interaction, political/collective efficacy); 3) conduct computational analyses on complex data derived from content in VTS and related uses of social software to identify and analyze implicit social and information networks, and to track and model the flow of information throughout the community.

Andrea Kavanaugh

A Fulbright scholar and Cunningham Fellow, Andrea Kavanaugh is Senior Research Scientist and Associate Director of the interdisciplinary research Center for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. Her research lies in the areas of social computing and communication behavior and effects. Dr. Kavanaugh leads research on the use and social impact of information and communication technology funded primarily by the National Science Foundation. Prior to joining the HCI Center in 2002, Dr. Kavanaugh served as Director of Research for the community computer network known as the Blacksburg Electronic Village (BEV) from its inception in 1993. She holds an MA from the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, and a PhD in Environmental Design and Planning (with a focus on the telecommunications sector) from Virginia Tech.  She served on the Board of the International Telecommunications Society (2002-08) and currently serves as Treasurer (formerly Secretary) on the Board of the Digital Government Society (DGS). More detail at http://www.cs.vt.edu/user/kavanaugh; she can be reached at kavan@vt.edu.

Innovations in University Outreach: Join the Competition across Europe

European Competition for Best Innovations in University Outreach and Public Engagement

As part of the EC-funded ULab project, the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford is organizing an online competition to identify the most innovative outreach and public engagement activities carried out by European Universities. Both individuals and groups may apply for awards.

Competition submissions must be for an activity that has been initiated and sustained at any university or higher education institution within the 27 EU member states, including projects that might have involved collaboration with institutions outside the EU. The entry can be from one or a number of cooperating universities.

The three winning entries will each receive a 5000 EUR prize for their institution as well as funding for a representative to attend the award ceremony at the University of Oxford on 8 June 2012.

Criteria

Entries will be judged on the following equally weighted criteria:

  • Clarity of purpose: Clear definition of the objectives of the initiative; awareness of, and strategies to meet, the needs of different target audiences (25%).
  • Impact: Reporting and evaluation of the impact of the initiative; making use of quantitative measures (such as attendance rates, web traffic, surveys) and / or qualitative ones (such as interviews, focus groups) (25%).
  • Originality: Evidence of creativity and originality, including innovative ways of measuring impact (25%).
  • Sustainability: Evidence of sustainability for future use of the initiative by your own institution or by others (e.g. through open access, open licencing) (25%).

Application Procedure

Entries should be submitted online at http://www.engageawards.org by 15 March 2012.

For each entry, please submit:

  • 1,000 word description and evaluation (in English) of your outreach and public engagement initiative, making sure you address all of the assessment criteria (listed above), including links to any relevant information (which can be in any European language).
  • 150 word abstract in English.
  • A letter from your host institution, indicating their agreement for the case to be submitted to the competition.

The three winning entries will be announced on the 23rd of April 2012.

The competition is open to anyone from any European university or higher education institution. Awards will be made to institutions (or units) rather than to individuals. All entries will be made public on the website, forming part of an online repository of good practice in outreach.

More information

For more information about the judges and the awards ceremony see www.engageawards.org. For specific enquiries please email engageawards@oii.ox.ac.uk.

ULab is an innovative think-tank of five leading Technical and Research-intensive European Universities: the Technical University of Madrid, the Polytechnic University of Turin, the Technical University of Munich, the Paris Institute of Technology and the University of Oxford. It is a two year project funded by the EC http://www.ulab-fp7.eu/

Digital Literacy and Self-Regulation Online: Insights for Policy: Event on Friday, 18 November 2011, University of Leicester, UK

ESRC Seminar Series: ‘Digital Policy: Connectivity, Creativity and Rights’ (RES-451-26-0849) 2011-13

‘Digital Literacy and Self-Regulation Online: Insights for Policy’
Friday November 18 2011, University of Leicester, UK

(Hosted by the Department of Media and Communication)

This seminar explores different understandings and roles of digital literacy and issues of online self-regulation. It works against the background of shifts towards individualization in the digital economy and the implications for policy. It approaches policy in the broad sense recognizing the role of varied stakeholders including nongovernmental actors and organizations and the importance of informal as well as formal processes. It considers the nature of online technologies and access and their fast changing nature and the impacts on regulatory environments, and specific contexts within which regulation can and should take place.

The seminar will address a range of issues related to digital literacy – what it is, where it should be developed, who should be responsible for it? How and what kinds of organizations and processes are relevant to it now, as well as what kinds of developments should there be in the future? Other questions will include: what does online safety mean and what are its key components; is there too much emphasis on technical rather than informational literacy; how do market drivers affect self-regulation; what are the generational issues that need to be addressed? The seminar will examine the nature of self-regulation online including in relation to the broader regulatory environment and other actors engaged with it.

Confirmed speakers include: Brian Simpson (University of New England, Australia), Peter Lunt (University of Leicester), Gillian Youngs (University of Wales, Newport), Dr Martin L Poulter (Wikipedia) and Josie Fraser (Social & Educational Technologist and consultant)

Call for Papers

We still have room for more papers and would welcome proposals from PhD students, academics and media and other practitioners and policymakers working in this area.

Participation

We have a limited number of places for the seminar so would like to hear from anyone who would like to take part as soon as possible. There is no charge for attending and lunch will be provided. We can meet UK travel costs (standard rail fare) for speakers and PhD students. Contact

Paper proposals and requests to participate should be sent to Tracy Simmons (tas11@le.ac.uk) who is organizing this seminar as soon as possible. The seminar series is led by Gillian Youngs (University of Wales, Newport) in collaboration with Tracy Simmons (University of Leicester), William Dutton (Oxford Internet Institute) and Katharine Sarikakis (University of Vienna). Weblink for seminar series: http://www.newport.ac.uk/research/researchcentres/Institutes/iab/projects/ESRCSeminarSeries/Pages/default.aspx

YouTube clip http://www.youtube.com/user/DigitalPolicyUWN.