Web Observatories: Gathering Data for Internet Governance [chapter]

2020 Researching Internet Governance  
The World Wide Web is the most significant application of the Internet, a simple, easy-to-use information space indexed by uniform resource identifiers on which are built most of the services accessed by Internet users today, including search engines, video streaming, and social media. Although the Internet predated the web by decades, the web brought a technical revolution, with the most significant social impact changing many aspects of how communication takes place and social behavior is
more » ... ed in politics, economics, leisure, entertainment, scientific research, commerce, and social interaction. As noted by Mueller and Badiei in chapter 2, the creation of the web (together with the invention of the browser) was partly responsible for the emergence of the Internet as a mass public medium, which has made Internet governance such a key issue. It has evolved from an efficient, although not unique, document repository to an active socio-cognitive space in which people express ideas and emotions across geopolitical boundaries. Its impact and reach have emphasized the importance of interpersonal integrity and issues of data ownership, privacy, trust, and surveillance in mainstream research, while the data, tools, and platforms that constitute and enable the web are distributed geographically, across legal jurisdictions. They are also used differently, with different levels of effectiveness and embeddedness, by diverse cultures, genders, age cohorts, and economic classes. The social challenges of context of use and analysis make the task of studying the web complex. Neither are the technical challenges trivial, as the data that are generated may or may not be preserved. Rapid changes make it harder for researchers to find evidence to test hypotheses related to research questions pertinent to governance and policy making. For example, consider the prominent roles played by private social networking entities in political campaigns run on the web (Stieglitz and Dang-Xuan 2013)
doi:10.7551/mitpress/12400.003.0007 fatcat:ks6km5l2yfhafpbmyz7ncoz6hi