E-Net News

Elon team conducts major research project at UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland

The School of Communications’ Imagining the Internet team is posting nearly 900 interview video clips featuring 180 international participants in the 12th annual IGF, facilitated by the United Nations.  

Elon students conduct interviews at the Global Internet Governance Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, in December 2017

An 11-person documentary journalism team from Elon’s Imagining the Internet Center collected and is publishing ethnographic video research captured at the UN-facilitated Global Internet Governance Forum at United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Dec. 17-20, 2017.

The team conducted a video survey at IGF to measure international communications experts’ attitudes regarding key issues tied to current trends and the likely future development and impacts of the Internet. During the team’s four days on site, nine Elon undergraduate students conducted 180 interviews and recorded, edited and began sharing nearly 900 online video clips.

This year’s IGF drew nearly 2,000 participants from government, business, academia, the technology sector and civil society who gathered to illuminate issues and cultivate constructive discussions aimed at building the best global future and working toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Thousands more followed the forum online, with #IGF2017 trending on social media platforms.

Elon students Melissa Douglas, Jared Mayerson and Maya Eaglin working at the 2017 IGF in Geneva, Switzerland.

David Bockino, assistant professor of communications, and Elon senior Melissa Douglas led the documentary research contingent to Geneva, with Janna Anderson, director of Imagining the Internet, running logistics and building and managing the Web pages for the project. The research team included undergraduate students Jackie Pascale, Maya Eaglin, Alexandra Roat, Jared Mayerson, Alex Hager, Emmanuel Morgan, Meagan Gitelman and Cammie Behnke.

“This important research project is an example of the pinnacle experiences that hard-working students get the opportunity to participate in if they immerse themselves in coursework and high-value student organizations such as the Elon News Network,” said Anderson. “This is the 24th major global or national communications event an Imagining the Internet team has documented since 2005. Students are selected to participate due to their leadership with ENN or Elon Docs and in the classroom. This work has taken our students to Athens, Rio de Janeiro, Sharm el Sheikh, Vilnius, Nairobi, Joao Pessoa, Guadalajara, Geneva, Seoul, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, Washington and other major cities of the world.”

Elon students conducted about 180 interviews with IGF attendees from around the world.

Among the experts interviewed in Geneva were people representing more than 60 sovereign states of the 206 in the world that are recognized by the UN, including Zimbabwe, Kenya, Bhutan, Russia, Republic of Congo, Colombia, Bangladesh, Japan, Brazil, Argentina, China, Egypt, Australia, Namibia, New Zealand, Mexico, Tanzania, Nigeria, Zambia, Nepal, Ukraine, Switzerland, France, Botswana, Morocco, Gambia, Portugal, United Arab Emirates, Georgia, Togo, Hong Kong, Germany, Barbados, Armenia, India, Madagascar, Belarus, Italy, Netherlands, Gambia, Tunisia, South Africa, United Kingdom, Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kosovo, Ethiopia, Trinidad and Tobago, Benin, Vanuatu, Myanmar, Senegal, Belgium, Lebanon, Haiti, Cameroon, Turkey, Uruguay, Canada and the United States.

The 180 interviewees included top communications leaders from many national governments, the European Parliament, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Society, global civil society and civil rights organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Association for Progressive Communications and major technology corporations including Google, Microsoft and Oracle.

The Imagining the Internet team conducted near-real-time reporting, making much of its work available online while on site at the forum in Geneva. Its comprehensive coverage, which is still in the process of being posted, is available for review here. The team's video playlists are also available on the center’s YouTube channel.

The project was funded by Elon University through its School of Communications and the Imagining the Internet Center.

The Internet Governance Forum is one of the processes of the UN’s World Summit on the Information Society. To learn more about IGF and the 2017 event, which had the theme “Shape Your Digital Future,” visit www.intgovforum.org.

Additional information about the Imagining the Internet’s coverage of previous Global IGF meetings is available online

Dan Anderson,
12/29/2017 6:20 PM