Dealing with The Giant Zero: For better and worse, the Net puts everyone and everything on it at zero functional distance from everyone and everything else. This is a new grace of human existence, and one the species won't forget, even if the network gets fractured into closed walled gardens (which may already be happening). How can we make this grace of the Net more feature than bug? (My own fantasy is using it to save the planet from its most pestilential species.)
Speech and public discourse: In the 2014 report, Faris and Jones noted an "awkward symmetry" (29) in thinking about speech regulation, there's concern about too much control and a worry about how much slips through. For social media platforms, we often discuss either the restrictions on content we might want to allow, or the inability to prevent the behavior we find reprehensible. How do we think about platforms and their interventions in ways that think about both roles simultaneously, and both problems together?
Algorithms and machine learning: Much of our scholarship around the Internet & society has focused on the connectedness of networked communication, the passage of information from different places and to different people: access, voice, community, control. As we embrace search engines and platforms and these "information intermediaries" grow in power, we must also address the fact that we are engaging with computational systems of a complex order: the sorting, distribution, and selection of information by algorithmic systems. These are not just tools in hands with consequences, but ecosystems in which data, calculations, models, and thresholds are dynamically intervening and changing with use. Upon what presumptions are these designed? How do we understand their consequences? Where is accountability placed with such systems? What publics do they tend to produce?
Labor: How do make visible the labor that is so often rendered invisible in online communication? We have begun a discussion about the "free labor" of users, though it is a difficult case to make in those terms. Frustration in San Francisco about the impact of the Silicon Valley work force represents a second element; recent investigations into the growing role of Turkers and other clickworkers is a third. What would it mean to turn the old idea of the Internet as an automatic and frictionless system upside down, to highlight the real, sustained, and sometimes precarious labor that it entails?
Environment: What are the environmental costs of our computing? How does the internet mitigate those costs? In what ways does it simply move them out of our view and off our personal ledgers?
Poetics and Personhood: How do networked interactions change our understanding--and our articulations--of self and others? In what ways have such interactions facilitated a new poetics of living? What are the costs of such changes, whether in terms of excess (clickbait, time squandered on Facebook, people dying in internet cafes), fear (ISIS, cyberbullying, general trolling), digital invective, surveillance, the lack of a right-to-be-forgotten, or otherwise?
Frictionless Inequality:How do we deal with the tendency of network effects and power laws to concentrate: power, wealth, attention, computation? What happens when more of the internet is consolidated into fewer servers run by Amazon Web Services ("web entropy").
Bits run on Atoms:The Internet runs on minerals and petroleum products torn from the earth and brought to life by a second network which burns oil and coal, dams rivers, splits atoms, and occasionally harvests the wind and sun to fuel its purposes. The character of the Internet is impacted heavily by geography and location. Walls clock wireless signals, different buildings connect to different pipes, policy and law block or allow different traffic, weather, temperature, and environment help or hinder equipment. Can these facts be usefully incorporated into whatever it is that we're doing?
Metaphors: What are the metaphors we use now when we conceive of the Internet? How do they help us? How do they lead us astray? Might we find better ones?
Basic Assumptions at Dogmas: What are the basic things that we are taking for granted as being true about the Internet? Do we each agree on them? Does it matter if we don't? Does it matter whether or not the world outside this room does or doesn't?
Business Models of the Internet: If not data and advertising, then what?
Internet landscapes: material networks, and the transition from virtual space to to material infrastructure?
Metaphors: and their consequences and costs
How, or if, will the internet endure in the long sweep of time?
Which world is in the WWW? Whose world is this?
What is new about connectivity in the net, and how would this facilitate a new democratic form and sense of social equality?
Master or slave: in what measure will the internet (of the future) be friend or foe? (compelling choices: do we know what we are being forced to choose among? social authority of internet ubiquity, inevitability)
what are the environmental costs of our computing?
poetics and personhood: what new language does this invoke?
which business models are available (outside of advertising and data)?
experience of the internet (in the silos of facebook, etc.): internets
Sara Wwhich are the limits of connectivity? with the internet of things, what's *not* connected to the internet? where are the edges of the internet?
data as capital (personal and corporate): which privacy concepts prepare us for such an understanding?
digital durability: how do we preserve our connectivity and creativity (given non-rootedness of most content)?
relationship of self and technology: surveillance comparisons over the longue duree (how does surveillance today shape our social and personal lives in analog to Freud's questions)? What is the self in internet context?
The story of the internet: progressive/declenist, utopian and dystopian, escatalogical, lapsarian, utopian narrative arcs, etc., and what are their implications?
Sara WWhat is our story of the internet: Plurality of the internet through history
Ben PWho are the we? (a political concept: how do we govern ourselves? Truth as a resource to accumulate, over capital; are we able to scale small group liberation?)
What are these questions for?
Sara WHow did we come ot the language we have for the internet - contesting sets of vocabularies
peter mHow is that language embedded in institutions?