Can We Conceive of a New Internet?

Columbia News

June 23, 2021
By A. Adam Glenn

Reimagine the Internet symposium, Knight First Amendment Institute

Is a radically different internet possible, one less dominated by a handful of tech giants hooked on transactional surveillance advertising? That was the question for technologists, legal scholars, and an audience of more than 1,400 who gathered during the course of a week-long virtual conversation in mid-May to “reimagine the internet.”

The online symposium, co-sponsored by Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute and University of Massachusetts Amherst’s School of Public Policy, was the culmination of a year-long research project by Ethan Zuckerman, a visiting scholar at the Knight Institute, and Chand Rajendra-Nicolucci, the Institute’s research fellow. The two spent the time exploring and writing about a range of social media “logics” beyond those used by platforms like Google, Amazon, and Facebook.

For Zuckerman, the research findings were encouraging. “It's not too late to fix things,” he told participants during the opening day’s conversation. “But the key is that we have to stop fixing what exists right now and start imagining that something else is possible. It's not about fixing Facebook. It's not about fixing YouTube. It's not about fixing Google. It's about imagining and building alternatives to what exists now.”

Listen to Day 4's symposium with FPF co-founder, Michael Wood-Lewis

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