The Peoples' Internet: A global perspective on the internet – University of Copenhagen

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02 November 2016

The Peoples' Internet: A global perspective on the internet

The peoples' internet

How do global cultural, political and economic differences influence our behaviour online and our media use in general? A new research project, The Peoples’ Internet (PIN), will compare the uses of the internet in three centres of the global economy and world politics: China, Europe and the USA.

Despite widespread talk of Generations X, Y, or Z being shaped by new media – for better or worse – it is essential to ask not only what the internet does to people, but also what people do with the internet.

The internet is among the most flexible and universally applicable technologies ever invented by humans. Nevertheless, the many significant variations in the social uses of the internet around the world remain poorly understood:

- There is not one, but several internets, says Professor Klaus Bruhn Jensen, Head of the Centre for Communication and Computing (CCC) and Principal Investigator (PI) on the PIN project.

The project will examine the current state and future potential of the internet in China, Europe and the United States – focusing on the interplay of civil society with the other two key sectors of modern societies: market and state.

The internet represents the global communication infrastructure of the twenty-first century – a resource for the peoples of the world to monitor and address political and economic powers. As such, the internet is key to the development of sustainable institutions at the local, national, and global levels that enable communication and collaboration, including in domains and on topics that generate contestation and conflict.

To help focus its research questions, PIN will consult with representatives of business, political life, and NGOs at the beginning as well as in the conclusion of the project. In a future perspective, PIN will contribute to a global research infrastructure to support further studies and applications of the internet around the world.

Interdisciplinary research methods

The project will rely on three empirical approaches; population surveys, ethnographic fieldwork and big data analyses:

- One distinctive feature of recent media and communication studies is that they combine classic approaches such as surveys and ethnographies with innovative digital methods including visualisation and advanced statistical techniques, says Associate Professor Rasmus Helles, University of Copenhagen, and co-PI of the project. 

Opening conference

On 6 December 2016, an opening conference for the project will take place. The event will bring together people from all three sectors (market, state and civil society), and all three continents (China, Europe and the US), to address the current state and future potential of the internet - as an important dialogue in its own right and as input to the research project. Find more information about the event here