Internet Studies has gained another centre for research and teaching with the establishment of the Alexander von Humbolt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG). I attended one of the first meetings of the HIIG’s Scientific Advisory Council on 12-13 September 2012, and left encouraged by the plans and progress of the Institute during its first months, and very optimistic about the developing network of Internet research centres around the world, to which HIIG provides a major addition.
The centre has been founded as a joint initiative of a collection of strong academic institutions, configured by ‘the Humbolt Universität zu Berlin, the Berlin University of Arts and the Social Science Research Centre Berlin (WZB) in collaboration with the Hamburg-based Hans Bredow Institute (HBI) by way of an integrative collaborative’ agreement, as noted on our papers. HIIG’s establishment was enabled by a base of funding from Google, which will be broadened in the coming years.
The meeting was held at the HIIG’s stunningly located offices at Bebelplatz 1, Berlin (see photos from the front entrance). I was impressed both by the collaborative nature of the centre itself, which is co-directed by four leading academics, who represent the founding institutions: Dr Jeanette Hoffman (WZB), Prof Dr Dr h.c. Ingolf Pernice (Humbolt Universität zu Berlin), Prof. Dr Dr. Thomas Schildhauer (Berlin University of Arts), and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulz (HBI).
The four directors have established a framework for guiding their research on issues of innovation, law and policy, a step that proved invaluable to the first years of the OII. Also the HIIG has taken an early leadership position in establishing a network of Internet research centres with the Berkman Institute, MIT, Bangalore and others.
More could be said, but let me refer you to their Web site at http://www.hiig.de/en/. I certainly left encouraged about the continuing growth and maturity of Internet Studies, and the potential for HIIG to take a leading role as part of an international network of centres to jointly cover the increasing range of issues and approaches tied to Internet Studies.
William H. Dutton (B.A. University of Missouri; M.A., PhD. SUNYBuffalo, 1974) is Professor of Internet Studies, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, and Fellow of Balliol College.