Define the Internet.
There is not yet an agreed-upon definition. Bell-heads think it’s a “network of networks,” all owned by private or public entities that each need to protect their investments and interests. Net-heads (that’s us) think it’s a collection of protocols and general characteristics that transcend physical infrastructure and parochial interests. If you disagree with either of the last two sentences, you demonstrate the problem, and why so many arguments about, say, “net neutrality,” go nowhere.
The idea is to assign defining the Internet to students in different disciplines: linguistics, urban planning, computer science, law, business, engineering, etc. Then bring them together to discuss and reconcile their results, with the purpose of informing arguments about policy, business, and infrastructure development. The result will be better policy, better business and better deployments. Or, as per instructions, “a better place for everyone.”
There should be fun research possibilities in the midst of that as well.
It’s a Berkman project, but I applied in my capacity as a CITS fellow at UCSB. I’ll be back in Santa Barbara for the next week, and the focus of my work there for the duration has been Internet and Infrastructure. (And, if all goes as planned, the subject the book after the one I’m writing now.)
So we’ll see where it goes. Even if it’s nowhere, it’s still a good idea, because there are huge disagreements about what the Internet is, and that’s holding us back.
I gave Why Internet & Infrastructure Need to be Fields of Study as my background link. It’s in sore need of copy editing, but it gets the points across.
Today’s the deadline. Midnight Pacific. If you’ve got a good idea, submit it soon.
After your taxes, of course. (Richard, below, points out that Monday is the actual Tax Day.)