Created on 1 January 2019, the Center for Internet and Society is currently composed of a CNRS research unit (UPR 2000), attached to the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences (INSHS) and headed by Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay (Director) and Francesca Musiani (Deputy Director).
Digital environments and networks are objects of research for the social sciences as well as for the mathematical, computer and engineering sciences. A national research network project (GDR) is under construction to bring together researchers and academics from these different disciplines.
Valérie Schafer, professor in Contemporary European History at the University of Luxembourg, Camille Paloque-Berges, research engineer at Cnam, Félix Tréguer, postdoctoral researcher at Sciences Po, and Maxime Lambrecht, invited lecturer at UCLouvain and ERG, researcher in Ethics and Internet Law at the Hoover Chair for economic and social ethics, are associate researchers.
Marida Di Crosta, lecturer HDR at the University Jean Moulin Lyon 3, Liudmila Sivetc, doctoral student at the University of Turku (Finland) and Andrew Feenberg, Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Technology in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University, are visiting researchers.
Understanding digital devices implies replacing them within the long term of a History that does not limit itself to artifacts, but restores them in the political, economic, social and technological environment that has accompanied them and that will embed their ongoing development (Schafer and Thierry, 2016). These genealogical approaches raise many methodological questions (for example on Web mapping, archives and born-digital heritage, on the use of digital traces, etc.) which do not only concern Internet historians, but all those who mobilize these materials.
Approaches through a techno-legal framework and the political economy of platforms and infrastructures that form the basis of the production and distribution of information and knowledge (Lessig, 1999, Boyle, 2003, Benkler, 2006) distinguish between the centralization and commodification of information by dominant actors on the one hand, and the definition of alternatives for sharing, co-production, and free disposal of resources and knowledge on the basis of common goods by online communities on the other hand (Ostrom, 1990, Capra and Mattei, 2015, Cornu, Rochfeld & Orsi, 2017). Examples of common-property and peer-production studies include the digitization of public domain works, open access to publications and scientific data, and the re-uses of information and public data (open data).
Building upon works in history of techniques and innovation (Abbate, 1999, Schafer & Thierry, 2015 and 2016), in sociology of science and technology (Bowker and Star, 1999, Akrich et al., 2006) and in law (Lessig, 1999, Cohen, 2012, Brown & Marsden, 2013), this axis focuses on digital devices – all these architectures, programming languages, protocols, algorithms, standards, applications, layers, networks, interfaces, traces, etc. which constitute the Internet in a broad sense, from the first phases of their design, to their uses and the rules, data and information that derive from them, through the multiple modalities that share, transform, enrich, deform, govern them, and make them govern. These artifacts have the specificity of blurring borders (Oram, 2001): users become co-designers; digital heritage informs present and future network developments; political issues are written in code; behaviors become marketable values.
Contemporary societies are characterized by processes of increasing “datafication” (van Dijck, 2014), encouraged by a convergence of several dynamics: a drastic increase in the means of capture, storage, reproduction and processing of data; an explosion in the volume of data transferred through these infrastructures; a diversification of the type of data; the rise of the Internet of things and artificial intelligence. Digital personal data provide a striking example of these dynamics, for the way in which they create new economic and decision-making models based on techniques of algorithmic exploitation that are both intensive and problematic for privacy (Pasquale, 2015). New tensions arise around big data, computational analysis, data mining and machine-learning, as well as between the incentives to access increasing data volumes and the calls for privacy protection (right to be forgotten, personal traces).
In the 1990s, digital technologies appeared as a formidable challenge to the sovereignty of states and their security policies, Today, because of the concentration of digital public space and the rise of a new technological cycle marked by big data and algorithmic governmentality (Rouvroy and Berns, 2012), the Internet plays an increasingly central role in the democratic balance and the geopolitical stability of our societies (Brousseau et al., 2012, Tréguer 2017). In this perspective, this axis proposes to investigate the reconfiguration the practices of power in the era of digital networks, at the intersection of political theory, history, sociology and law. Among the research topics, this will include studying the digital transformations undergone by states and by practices such as censorship and surveillance, propaganda and the so-called "fake news", intra- and inter-state conflicts. Symmetrically, this axis focuses on the logic of resistance to these practices, and the defense of civil liberties in the digital age.
The DOOM project, led by Paolo Frasca (GIPSA-lab), with the participation of Tommaso Venturini, permanent researcher at CIS, was selected in the "80 | Prime" CNRS call for projects.
The H2020 CAPS European project netCommons ended in December 2018. Some publications are already available in open access, others in preparation.
The H2020 CAPS European project NEXTLEAP ended in December 2018. Some publications are already available in open access, others in preparation.