The Internet affects society in all its dimensions. E-mail and messaging is changing our written communication, Wikipedia affects how we think about the accessibility of public knowledge, and social media can result in disparities in our offline and online identities. While e-commerce, e-health and e-government are providing extensive opportunities to offer services easier and more efficiently, the Internet poses threats when it is used by terrorists and hackers or contains harmful materials to children.

The widespread influence of the Internet has not yet crystallised in extensive research about the Internet’s effects on society. The complexity of today’s global challenges asks for interdisciplinary cooperation to better understand these effects and craft ways to capture the Internet’s potential while containing its threats.

This is why DiploFoundation and the Geneva Internet Platform have developed the Internet Research Fair. The Fair aims to facilitate discussion between students and researchers about the opportunities and challenges arising from the Internet’s presence in academia and society, as both the object and means of research. The Fair consists of an Internet and Society Day with panel discussions, evening lectures by scholars, who research the influence of the Internet on their respective disciplines, and a poster exhibition.

The upcoming Fair will discuss a number of themes that connect the Internet to scholarly research. These topics include the social responsibility of search engines, the consequences of the PDF for scientific communication, and the effects of the Internet on public debate. Furthermore, we will discuss the ways in which the Internet has changed communication studies, humanities, and the study of science in general.

The first edition of the Internet Research Fair will take place in Amsterdam between 29 February and 3 March. The programme is available on the event website.

What do you think needs to be researched in order to better understand the Internet’s unknowns? And would you like to help us organise an Internet Research Fair at your university? Please contact me at barbarar@diplomacy.edu for more information.

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