• Rebooting NoC 2023!

    Rebooting NoC 2023!

    Rebooting process 2023

  • Global Perspectives and Local Realities: Essay Series Exploring Stories of COVID-19

    Global Perspectives and Local Realities: Essay Series Exploring Stories of COVID-19

    Exploring stories about COVID-19 in real time, creating a snapshot focused on the narratives emerging from local communities in order to paint a global picture. » more

  • Takeaways from a special discussion with Yves Dacccord, former Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross

    Takeaways from a special discussion with Yves Dacccord, former Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross

    On March 19, the NoC convened a special virtual session with Yves Dacccord to discuss the intersection of the Internet and society field with the crisis surrounding the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. » more


About the Network of Centers (NoC)

The NoC a collaborative initiative among academic institutions with a focus on interdisciplinary research on the development, social impact, policy implications, and legal issues concerning the Internet. This collective aims to increase interoperability between participating centers in order to stimulate the creation of new cross-national, cross-disciplinary conversation, debate, teaching, learning, and engagement regarding the most pressing questions around new technologies, social change, and related policy and regulatory developments.

Why the NoC was Created

A growing number of academic research institutions are focused on exploring a wide range of important issues concerning the future of the Internet and related technologies. Representing diverse disciplines, methodologies, and viewpoints, these institutions have sought to analyze and understand the growing impact of digital technologies on society and share those findings in such ways that serve the public interest. In the process, they grapple with a complex set of topics and issues of national, regional, and global importance, including policy, regulation and governance, human behavior and social impact, new markets and business models, intellectual property, privacy, and security, and many other issues. Acknowledging a lack of internationally coordinated research and engagement activities in the areas mentioned above, a group of academic centers launched the NoC in 2012, within an international Symposium on Internet-Driven Developments: Structural Changes and Tipping Points (SCTP), hosted by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.

The NoC Secretariat

As a decentralized initiative, the NoC’s coordination periodically alternates among member Centers in the network and has included:

Guiding Principles

Upon joining the Network, participants commit to a set of Guiding Principles, including a set of core values such as openness, collaboration, and diversity. The Network operates independent from governments, political parties and economic interests and does not take formal positions on policy issues.


There are three main focus areas for 2020. We seek to (1) increase the analytical capabilities of the network through its individual nodes as well as cross-network collaboration, i.e. continue to build NoC as a “sensory” system for Internet & society issues across the globe; (2) augment educational capacity across Centers and continents, drawing from the model of  summer schools, fellows programs, and other educational activities across the NoC; and (3) offer practical guidance to policymakers through toolkits, playbooks, and other materials where NoC Centers work closely with governmental, private sector, and civil society stakeholders on problems they face translating values or principles into implementation, drawing inspiration from a new AI Policy Practice program launched by the Berkman Klein Center. 

The 2017-2018 roadmap addresses the challenges of a growing global network of academic institutions. In a highly connected world in which public and private choices are shaping every sphere of individual activity, researchers of Internet and society issues are becoming increasingly important to translate and map ahead the changes. One specific challenge addressed in the roadmap is to reflect on how academia can interact with other stakeholders. What are the objectives, the parameters and the expected outcomes of such interactions? In proposing a framework to deal with this question, the roadmap also indicates focus areas for cross-disciplinary research, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and internet blocking.

The 2015-2016 Roadmap outlines the strategy towards enabling actual exchange between Internet & Society researchers across the globe. In fact, in order to serve the public interest, studying Internet & Society topics calls for a deep analysis of ongoing trends of national, regional, and global importance, including policy, regulation and governance. Cross-disciplinary dialogues and, more in general, an advanced coordination of worldwide research endeavors on Internet & Society can help to neutrally inform global debates, so to achieve a clearer understanding of complex and distributed phenomena that pertain to the Internet, its impact, and its evolution.

The 2014 Roadmap outlines proposed next steps regarding the second phase of collaboration among the participants in the Network. It builds upon the first Symposium on “Internet­ Driven Developments: Structural Changes and Tipping Points” that took place at Harvard University from December 6­-8, 2012 and has been further developed in the subsequent regional Network conversations and meetings that took place in 2013. These include meetings hosted by ICT Law Institute at Bilgi University, Istanbul, by the Center for Technology & Society at FGV School of Law, Rio de Janeiro, and by the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG), Berlin. The Network’s activities in 2014 will scale accordingly with the no ­longer nascent Network, ramping up to include hard research outputs and significant contributions in key policy debates.

The initial year and first phase of development was guided by the NoC's 2013 Roadmap, which outlined a range of enablers such as events, learning calls, or researcher exchanges within the Network. Again, this roadmap fed from the valuable feedback that came out of the Symposium on "Internet-Driven Developments: Structural Changes and Tipping Points" that took place at Harvard University on December 6-8, 2012.



Are you part of a Center interested in joining the NoC?

The NoC is an informal network of peers based on actual collaboration. The network is currently coordinated by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. The NoC encompasses two types of participants:

  • “Participating Centers”, i.e., academic research centers whose agenda is primarily focused on Internet & Society topics;
  • “Affiliated Participants”, i.e., other types of institutions, still with Internet & Society-related open threads, carried out, e.g., as non-academic research centers, policy-support entities, or think tanks.

For more information on how to join the NoC with your center, please reach out to contact@networkofcenters.net. Applications are periodically reviewed by the NoC Steering Committee.


There are many other ways to get involved with the NoC: research opportunities, courses, events, physical and virtual conversations, fellowships and internships, and more. We look forward to learning new ways in which we can together advance our studies and impact.

  • Join a physical or virtual event
  • Learn about our programs (e.g., internships and fellowships)
  • Follow us on Twitter

Twenty-First Century Media? Call for Submissions, Sarai, Delhi, March 2024

Established in 2000, the Sarai media programme of CSDS in Delhi has been a critical space in the Global South for work on media culture and cultural theory. Sarai was the first space to examine internet culture in the Global South. This is a call for abstracts for a workshop in Delhi, in March 2024. Hope you can join us! The abstract deadline is December 10, 2023.
Twenty-First Century Media? Affective Bodies, Crowds and Collectives, 21-23 March 2024, Delhi, India
In the last two decades, digital media infrastructures have spread worldwide, including the global South. Despite inequalities of access, low-cost mobile devices and cheaper broadband have connected large subaltern populations to media infrastructures. The effects are increasingly planetary, initiating a series of debates in media scholarship and cultural theory. Mediatisation has emerged as a material field that drives circulation, sharing, and modification, generating intense rhythms of political engagement and action. We are interested in this junction, the combinations of sensory media infrastructures with political metamorphoses.
These shifts channel in novel ways the “structure of feeling” theorized in the last century by Raymond Williams.  Digital media infrastructures have been productive of affective body politics, where haptic engagement, the intuitive technicity of devices, and psychic collective are routinely entangled. Everyday experiences of governance, the rapid flow of news through devices, algorithmic prediction, the triggers of war, trauma and phatic online connections are all part of this landscape of 21st-century media. At the same time, artists, activists and filmmakers involved in social movements across the world have been eclectic in their practices, scrambling divisions between 20th and 21st-century media through mashup and mixing techniques.
The emergence of digital media in the 21st century was hailed as opening new avenues of participation, immersion and resistance. Recent diagnostic critiques have focused on the ‘feed-forward’ nature of 21st-century digital media, the “shift from a past-directed recording platform to a data-driven anticipation of the future” (Hansen), the routinisation of spectacle in everyday life and the destruction of sleep(Crary), the expansion of surveillance and control with platforms(Zuboff). The contagious nature of social media generates cycles of imitation: shaping social movements, populist collectives, mis/disinformation, info wars, and political stardom. Digital media animates bodies, and connects technical and natural environments, posing pressing questions for techno-social milieus worldwide.  Global media platforms produce remarkable interventions: troll farms from Russia periodically intervene in overseas debates, South Asian internet users have been active in online flame wars and misinformation on Israel/Gaza. We see a blurring of older divisions between diasporic, international, and domestic publicity; mis/disinformation pipelines are increasingly dynamic.
In this workshop, we are interested in site-specific contributions mapping 21st-century media, addressing material and environmental questions for media and political aesthetics. While we are open to diagnostic and media-theory contributions, we will give weightage to abstracts that bring in original research.  In particular, we welcome contributions from the Global South.
The forensic turn in media scholarship: case studies.
Structures of Feeling: feed-forward, addictive media, and new time-spaces of media events.
Inhabiting Mis/disinformation: Beyond True and False.
Persistence of 20th-century media? Cinema, video, sound and the contemporary.
Circulation techniques: Pipelines, Info-war and comparative studies of 21st Century propaganda and publicity.
21st century celebrity culture: influencers, microcelebrities and the political.
Affective Bodies: audiences, publics and collectives in an emergent digital universe of political aesthetics.
21st Century television: media events, political spectacle, liveness.
Law and 21st-century media: platforms, content moderation and takedown notices.
Please submit a 500-word abstract by 10 December 2023, along with a paragraph-length bio to digitalnetworksworkshop@gmail.com. In your abstract please mention at least one of the themes mentioned above. Practice-based contributions that address the conceptual lens of the workshop are also welcome.  Selected speakers will be required to share a draft paper with discussants before the workshop.
This workshop is organised by the the Indo-German research collaboration ICAS-MP and its thematic module Media and the Constitution of the Political (TM7). The workshop will take place at the Sarai media programme of CSDS, in Delhi from 21-23 March 2024. An advanced research centre, the CSDS is a network partner of ICAS-MP and Sarai a part of TM7. Accommodation and meals for the duration of the workshop will be covered by ICAS-MP. Selected speakers from India will also be eligible for travel support to Delhi. Overseas speakers are encouraged to cover travel expenses from their home institutions. We may be able to part-support a small number of need-based travel grants for selected speakers based in the Global South.

Institute of Network Cultures
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You Know, For Kids

Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
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Thinking Through Generative AI Harms Among Users on Online Platforms

Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
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Preserving Social Connections against the Backdrop of Generative AI

Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
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Rankings bescheinigen der Uni Würzburg exzellente Forschung

Die britische Zeitschrift Times Higher Education (THE) und die chinesische ShanghaiRanking Consultancy veröffentlichen jedes Jahr unabhängig voneinander Ranglisten der besten Universitäten weltweit. Jüngst sind die sogenannten „Subject Rankings“ beider Anbieter erschienen. Darin werden unterschiedliche Forschungsfelder anhand einzelner Leistungsindikatoren bewertet. Die Rankings betrachten unter anderem die Reputation der Institutionen in Forschung und Lehre sowie die Zahl der Publikationen und Zitationen.
In beiden Fächerrankings schneidet die Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg sehr gut ab. „Die differenzierte Bewertung nach Forschungsfeldern reflektiert die Vielfalt der Forschung an der JMU. Die sehr guten Bewertungen der Bereiche mit eingereichten Exzellenzclusterskizzen gibt Rückenwind. Gleichzeitig belegen die Rankings eine erfreuliche Vielfalt von exzellenten Ideen und Forschenden an unserer Universität. Das ist die strukturelle und kulturelle Basis unseres Erfolgs“, so Universitätspräsident Paul Pauli.
THE: Stark in den Lebenswissenschaften
Das „THE World University Ranking by subject“ vergleicht die Leistung von über 1.900 Universitäten weltweit in elf unterschiedlichen Fachbereichen. Dabei werden Aspekte wie Forschungsqualität, Forschungsbedingungen, Lehre, Internationalisierung und Transfer berücksichtigt.
Das neueste THE-Fächerranking bewertet die Lebenswissenschaften der Uni Würzburg am besten: Weltweit reiht sich die JMU in der Ranggruppe 101 bis 125 ein. In Deutschland positioniert sie sich unter den besten elf Universitäten, in Bayern belegt sie den dritten Platz. Ihre Exzellenz in den Lebenswissenschaften zeigt die Universität insbesondere in der Forschungsqualität, in der sie den Gesamtwert 95,5 (von 100) erzielt.
Auch beim Transfer punktet die JMU hervorragend mit einem Wert von 86,1. Darüber hinaus konnte die Universität ihre Platzierung in Physik, Psychologie und Computerwissenschaften verbessern. In diesen Fächern gehört sie nun international zu den Top 10 Prozent.
ShanghaiRanking: Top in Ökologie und Medizintechnik
Das ShanghaiRanking bewertet die Leistungsfähigkeit von über 1.900 Universitäten aus 104 Ländern in 55 unterschiedlichen Forschungsfeldern. Es vergleicht die Anzahl, Zitationshäufigkeit und Internationalität von Fachpublikationen sowie die Anzahl erhaltener Wissenschaftspreise.
In der vor kurzem veröffentlichten Ausgabe für einzelne Forschungsfelder, dem „Global Ranking of Academic Subjects (GRAS)“, erreicht die JMU in Ökologie und Medizintechnik ihre besten Platzierungen.
In der Ökologie- und Biodiversitätsforschung rangiert sie unter den 75 weltweit führenden Universitäten, unter den besten sechs Universitäten in Deutschland und an zweiter Stelle in Bayern.
Ähnlich gut schneidet die JMU in der Medizintechnik ab, die neben Labortechnologien auch die Gebiete Neuroimaging, Nuklearmedizin und Radiologie umfasst: Hier liegt sie weltweit unter den besten 75 Universitäten; in Deutschland belegt sie Rang neun und in Bayern Rang drei.
Die JMU glänzt mit weiteren wissenschaftlichen Spitzenleistungen in der Biologie und reiht sich hier unter die besten 100 Universitäten der Welt ein. In Deutschland liegt sie auf Platz fünf, in Bayern auf Platz zwei.
Das GRAS spiegelt auch die exzellente Forschungsleistung der JMU in der Physik wider. Sie gehört hier international zu den besten zehn Prozent und belegt in Deutschland Platz zehn, in Bayern Platz drei.
In Humanbiologie, Zahnmedizin und Kommunikationsforschung hat die Universität weitere herausragende Platzierungen erreicht. Hier zählt sie zu den besten 150 Universitätsstandorten. Gegenüber 2022 verbesserte sich die JMU vor allem in der Klinischen Medizin; hier rückte sie 2023 in die Gruppe der Top 200 Universitäten vor.

THE World University Ranking by subject
Shanghai Global Ranking of Academic Subjects (GRAS)

Würzburg Centre for Social and Legal Implications of Artificial Intelligence (SOCAI)
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NRI 2023: The Battle Against Mis- and Disinformation

Misinformation and disinformation have become pervasive issues in today’s digital world, posing significant challenges in distinguishing truth from fiction. To unravel this complex web, we need to understand the nuances of misinformation and how technology can be harnessed to combat it effectively.
The Misinformation Spectrum
Misinformation isn’t a monolith; rather, it spans a spectrum of deceitful content. Understanding these shades of misinformation is critical:

  1. Intentional Disinformation: Content generated by bots or troll farms, primarily for revenue generation. Often, these videos present misleading headlines or visuals that contradict the actual content, aiming to maximize engagement and profits.
  2. Clickbait: Clickbait content is intentionally salacious, often of low quality, and while not always violating company policies, it frequently misleads users through false context or exaggerated claims.
  3. Opinionated Videos with False Ideology: These videos, created by regular individuals, endorse false ideologies. Addressing them is challenging, especially if they don’t violate community guidelines.
  4. Satire or Parody: Content designed for entertainment, with no harmful intent. However, it can potentially fool viewers due to its deceptive semblance.
  5. Authoritative, High-Quality News: Trustworthy news content intended for news-seeking queries, clearly labeled as ‘News.’ While occasionally facts may be misreported, the intent is to provide authoritative and high-quality news.

Tech companies have made strides in algorithmically determining significant events, but the accuracy in identifying and sourcing information around developing details, remains a hurdle, leaving room for bad actors to spread disinformation. 
The Evolution of Recommendation Systems: Illuminating the Path Forward
In the ever-evolving digital landscape, recommendation systems play a pivotal role in shaping our online experiences. Initially designed to enhance user engagement and satisfaction, these systems have undergone a transformative journey to better understand user preferences and behaviors.
Early Days: The Clickbait Predicament
In the early days of the Internet, recommendation systems relied heavily on analyzing user clicks to optimize content. However, this approach inadvertently encouraged creators to produce sensational clickbait, often misleading users with provocative headlines. Users would click on a video, only to realize that the content didn’t align with the enticing banner.
Raising the Bar: Quality Over Clicks
Recognizing the pitfalls of click-based algorithms, tech companies pivoted towards evaluating the quality of user engagement. Instead of merely analyzing clicks, they began considering factors like the amount of time users spent watching a video and whether they watched it to completion. This shift aimed to ensure that users not only clicked on content but found it genuinely satisfying.
Harnessing User Feedback: A Paradigm Shift
However, measuring satisfaction based solely on watch time wasn’t foolproof. Long viewing times didn’t always equate to a positive user experience. Tech companies realized the need for direct user feedback to gauge satisfaction accurately. Surveys and feedback mechanisms were introduced to gather users’ opinions on recommended content, enabling the refinement of recommendation algorithms.
The Challenge of Veracity: Raising the Bar Higher
Ensuring that recommendation systems present accurate, verifiable information became a pressing concern, especially in domains like science, medicine, news, or historical events. Tech companies started imposing a higher standard for videos promoted through recommendations. The focus shifted to providing content from authoritative sources, particularly in critical domains where credibility and accuracy were paramount.
The Complex Terrain: Why No ‘Silver Bullet’ Exists
Combatting disinformation is far from simple. Determining the authenticity and intent behind content, especially related to current events, is a complex task for both humans and technology. People and technology have to work hard to figure out the authenticity and the reasons behind such content, especially when it’s related to important things like our health. This is an example of how disinformation can be tricky to combat. As shown in Table 1.0, to combat disinformation effectively, tech companies need to adopt a triad of strategies:

  1. Make Quality Count: Algorithms ensure fair treatment of websites and content creators, aiming to prioritize usefulness based on user testing, rather than fostering specific ideological viewpoints.
  2. Counteract Malicious Actors: While algorithms can’t determine the truthfulness of content, they can identify intent to manipulate or deceive users. This calls for greater transparency in content operations.
  3. Give Users More Context: Various tools, like ‘Knowledge Panels,’ ‘Full Coverage,’ and ‘Breaking News’ shelves, equip users with contextual information to make informed decisions about the content they consume.


A Collective Responsibility
Ensuring a reliable and high-quality digital experience is a shared responsibility. Tech companies are constantly evolving their products to prioritize quality, counteract malicious actions, and provide users with valuable context. Beyond product improvements, collaboration with civil society, researchers, and staying ahead of emerging risks are vital in combating misinformation and disinformation. Together, let’s strive for a trustworthy digital world.
The 2023 edition of the Network Readiness Index, dedicated to the theme of trust in technology and the network society, will launch on November 20th with a hybrid event at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Register and learn more using this link
For more information about the Network Readiness Index, visit https://networkreadinessindex.org/

Ayse Kok Arslan is a member of the SSIT Standards Committee for The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and a member of the Generative AI Working Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). 
The post NRI 2023: The Battle Against Mis- and Disinformation appeared first on Portulans Institute.

Portulans Institute
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New Release: Problematising Strategic Tension Lines in the Digital Commons

As a part of our exploration of the open movement, last May, we hosted a workshop with a small group of the movement’s leaders. It was co-organised by our partners at Open Future and Wikimedia Europe. The convening built up on what was found out in Shifting Tides – quality research about the state of the movement conducted a few months prior.

The participants were activists, experts, and critical thinkers representing different fields of open. Together, we wanted to make sense of the challenges facing the open ecosystems and propose solutions that could be adopted by organisations and activists supporting openness and the commons. Participants represented a broad range of views that allowed us to identify the strategic tensions within the movement relating to, a.o., its politics, socio-economic constraints, digital rights, and equity. You can read the full report as a PDF or online.

Read the report

The workshop corresponded with our ongoing process of updating the Open Definition. It also helped us expand on the key challenge we first identified in Open Future’s founding essay, the Paradox of Open – that in today’s digital environment, openness serves as both a challenge to concentrations of power and its enabler.

We hope for this conversation to continue at different open movement convenings in the months to come. In the meantime, we welcome all forms of feedback and hope that the report will prove to be a useful tool for everyone involved in the open movement.

Open Knowledge
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Encryption as a battleground in Ukraine

Chapitre de Ksenia Ermoshina et Francesca Musiani publié dans l'ouvrage Eaten by the Internet, Meatspace Press, 2023.
L’article Encryption as a battleground in Ukraine est apparu en premier sur Centre Internet et Société.

Center for Internet and Society (CIS)
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Who's in Charge in a Kid-Influencer World?

Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University
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