Just as research in universities and institutions around the world played a key role in the creation of the Internet and its use, research has a vital contribution to make to the future of the Internet in New Zealand. With that in mind, and driven by community interest and discussion dating back to NetHui 2012, InternetNZ has now taken a new step towards supporting Internet research in New Zealand by helping create the New Zealand Internet Research Forum (NZIRF).
Earlier this month, the first NZIRF event was held in Auckland, co-organised by InternetNZ and the AUT Institute of Culture Discourse and Communication (AUT ICDC). The event brought together people involved in Internet research, from across disciplines and sectors, to share perspectives, discuss potential links and collaborations, and most importantly to start building an Internet research community that benefits New Zealanders and our Internet.
Internationally there is an academic Internet research network which brings together researchers. It facilitates discussions and establishes connections for support as well as collaboration and cooperation. The vision for the NZIRF and the first event was similar. We wanted to reach out to academia across disciplines, as well as government and business, to put a toe in the water on helping develop a community here in New Zealand. The NZIRF aims to engage a broad network of researchers working in a wide range of fields such as social media, virtual worlds, cybersecurity, activism online, crowd sourcing, computer engineering, copyright, gaming, digital politics, online communities, the virtual public sphere, online journalism, and digital literacy.
The first NZIRF event put a range of researchers in the same room together to share what they are working on as well as discuss some shared challenges and opportunities. The panels in particular provided an informative and open atmosphere, enabling people to transcend different disciplines and interests to talk about common goals and experiences - as well as the challenges that Internet researchers face. During the course of the day there were over 20 short presentations on specific research and current initiatives from organisations such as the National Library, the Office of the Privacy Commission, 2020 Communications Trust, Chorus, and NZRS, as well as from many individual researchers including a lunchtime drop in from Justice David Harvey to present his latest research.
InternetNZ are proud to be working on the NZIRF with our strategic partner AUT’s ICDC, who are responsible for the World Internet Project in New Zealand. The World Internet Project is a survey which has been conducted every two years since 2007 and provides internationally comparable snapshots of Internet use in New Zealand. As the team responsible for one of the core pieces of Internet research undertaken in New Zealand, it was appropriate and appreciated to have AUT’s ICDC coordinate and host the event at AUT’s city campus. They helped make a great day!
InternetNZ is going to keep working to develop and support the Internet research community in New Zealand through the NZIRF. To keep the conversation going in the flesh, we’re bringing this community together at this year’s NetHui (http://www.nethui.org.nz ) taking place on July 8-10 at Auckland’s SkyCity. There is also now an email list set-up for the sharing of information, publications, information on funding opportunities for conferences and grants, or merely asking questions. You can join the mailing list at http://mailman.internetnz.net.nz/mailman/listinfo/nzirf.
InternetNZ also has a community grant funding round open now which is dedicated to Internet Research. Applications are open through next Monday March 2 and you can find out more and apply here: https://internetnz.nz/internet-research-funding-round
We hope through both community funding and engagement like the NZIRF, research which supports the development of the Internet for all New Zealanders, will flourish. InternetNZ is looking forward to the role the NZIRF will play in supporting researchers help shape the future of the Internet for New Zealand’s benefit.
For more information about the NZIRF, visit https://internetnz.nz/new-zealand-internet-research-forum