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NEW YORK, NY—The Markle Foundation will commit $2-million to The Advertising Council over the next three years for a campaign to educate families about opportunities for children to learn and grow using the Internet and other interactive media, Zoë Baird, President of the Markle Foundation, and Peggy Conlon, President of the Ad Council, announced today. The multimedia public education campaign will be the first of its kind to communicate the potential of interactive media to benefit children and to help parents make informed decisions about their children's use of these new media. It will help parents identify positive interactive media resources, sites, and games for their children, and give them the tools they need to identify the best ways to use the Internet with their children as a tool for learning and fun. And it will help parents guide children to avoid inappropriate activities. Markle Foundation President Zoë Baird said, "The potential of interactive media to benefit our children is extraordinary. But parents need the know-how and the tools to take advantage of it. This campaign allows us to give parents what they need and to involve them in shaping expectations for this media as it develops." Ad Council President Peggy Conlon said, "We are excited about having the Markle Foundation as the partner and sponsor of a campaign to educate parents about the amazing, positive potential the Internet holds for their children. The Markle Foundation is leading the charge in looking for ways to realize the potential of emerging communications tools to improve people's lives. With Markle's help, we will implement the first mass public education campaign to help parents make smart choices for their children in this new media environment." This three-year commitment by the Markle Foundation will fund research, underwrite a creative campaign conveying key messages to target audiences, place ads in a wide range of media nationally, and provide ongoing tracking and evaluation mechanisms. The Ad Council will work with newspapers, magazines, radio and television networks, and online sites—all of which will donate space or air time to this initiative—and advertising agencies. TBWA/Chiat Day will donate its creative services. The advertisements are scheduled to appear in the Fall of 2000. This initiative is part of the Markle Foundation's Interactive Media for Children program which works to gain in-depth knowledge about the potential and the impact of interactive media, and then to help incorporate this knowledge in the creation of children's products and services. Markle's Interactive Media for Children program is setting a national research agenda on how interactive media can contribute to the cognitive, emotional, physical and developmental needs of children and the potential of interactive technologies to meet them. The program includes work with key content producers and companies to integrate this knowledge into innovative games, toys and programs. In addition, the program studies parents' evolving needs and concerns relative to the new media environment, and aims to create tools that they can use to make informed, responsible decisions for their children. Markle Foundation works to improve health and national security through the use of information and technology. Markle collaborates with innovators and thought leaders from the public and private sectors whose expertise lies in the areas of information technology, privacy, civil liberties, health, and national security. Learn more about Markle at www.markle.org. The Ad Council is a private, nonprofit organization that has been the leading producer of public service communication programs in the United States since 1942. It supports campaigns that benefit children, families and communities. The communications programs are national in scope and have generated strong, measurable results. Ad Council campaigns such as "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk," "Take A Bite Out Of Crime," and "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste" have helped save lives and resources, educate the public about issues and concerns of the day, and make America a healthier country to live in. In 1998, Ad Council campaigns received more than $1 billion in donated print and electronic media time and space.
NEW YORK, NY—The Markle Foundation, in conjunction with the New America Foundation, has established the Markle Fellows program designed specifically to support writers addressing issues relating to information technology and society. Today, Zoë Baird, President of the Markle Foundation, announced the appointment of the first two Markle Fellows-John Simons of The Wall Street Journal and writer/commentator David Friedman. Markle will commit nearly $1 million over the next two years to support four Markle Fellows in the first year and five Fellows in the second year; each Fellow will serve one-year terms. The Markle Fellows are part of the Fellowship program operated by the New America Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy institute based in Washington, DC. John Simons, who assumed his Fellowship on January 3rd, most recently was the Technology Policy reporter for The Wall Street Journal, writing about the government's broadening role as Internet policy maker, and on the high-tech industry's growing influence on Washington politics. David Friedman, who begins his fellowship on March 1, is an economics writer, commentator and attorney whose work is widely published in national and international publications. Said Zoë Baird, "We are delighted to be able to create an environment in which the next generation of thought-leaders can do focused thinking, writing and analysis about the pressing issues surrounding information technology and society. We see this as an exciting extension of the work the Markle Foundation is doing to look at ways in which new media and technology can improve people's lives. It is important that, as this new communications environment takes shape, we have a deep examination of the critical issues we will face as a society. David Friedman and John Simons will make a serious contribution in that effort." Ted Halstead, Founder, President and CEO of the New America Foundation, said, "We are delighted that the Markle Foundation is now a partner in our successful Fellowship Program. Their support enables us to appoint several exceptionally talented new Fellows who will focus on a critical set of issues at the intersection of information technology and public policy." About John Simons As Technology Policy reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Simons wrote breaking news stories and feature articles on the government and the high-tech industry. Other recent topics covered by Simons include Internet taxation, online crime, consumer privacy, and the Web's influence on the 2000 Presidential race. As a Markle Fellow, Simons is focusing on policy issues, the "digital divide," consumer privacy, participation in the political process and issues of jurisdiction between local, state, federal and international regulatory bodies. Previously, Simons was Senior Editor at U.S. News & World Report. In this role, he developed and wrote articles for the Business and Technology section, covering the Internet as an emerging business and economic environment. Mr. Simons received a B.A. in Journalism from Northeastern University and currently lives in Washington, DC. About David Friedman As an economics writer, commentator and attorney, David Friedman contributed to the The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, Orange County Business Journal, Japan Times, Forbes, and The American Enterprise, among other publications. In 1998, the California Newspaper Publishers Association honored Friedman as Best Columnist. Friedman is also a regular commentator on Marketplace Radio and National Public Radio. As a Markle Fellow, Friedman will focus on technology as an engine of inequality; the demographic and social consequences of urban policies favoring high-tech investment; and the sustainability of the new economy. Previously, Friedman was a Senior Executive at Catellus Development Corporation, a publicly traded land development company. Mr. Friedman received a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from the University of California, San Diego, a PhD. in Political Economy from MIT and a J.D. from UCLA. He currently lives in Culver City, California. The New America Foundation is a non-profit public policy institute whose purpose is to bring exceptionally promising new voices and new ideas to the fore of America's public discourse. The New America Foundation seeks to reshape our public debate by investing in outstanding individuals and ideas that transcend the conventional political spectrum. Based in Washington, DC, the New America Foundation was conceived through the collaborative work of a diverse and inter-generational group of public intellectuals, opinion leaders, and business executives. New America's Board of Directors is chaired by James Fallows, and includes Eric Benhamou (Chairman & CEO, 3Com), Eric Schmidt (Chairman & CEO, Novell, Inc.) and Laura D'Andrea-Tyson (Dean of the Haas School of Business, University of California at Berkeley). Since its inception in 1999, the New America Foundation's Fellowship Program has worked to train and support a new generation of young public intellectuals by helping them gain exposure for their ideas in the information marketplace. The Fellowship selection process is highly competitive and looks for those rare individuals who are not only exceptional thinkers, but who also have an ability to communicate in ways that gain broad public attention. All Fellows are appointed for a one-year renewable term.
LOS ANGELES, CA—The Markle Foundation is committing more than $1-million to improve Internet governance, including several major initiatives designed to make ICANN, the Internet's first international oversight body, more accountable to all users of the Internet, it was announced in a statement today by Zoë Baird, President of the Markle Foundation. After a year of initial activities, the first elected Board of Directors of ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is now being selected; nine of the 19 Directors have already been elected by three supporting organizations representing technical and commercial interests. Users of the Internet at large will elect an additional nine Directors, and Markle is helping to ensure that this election process is representative, fair and credible. Markle's first initiative—a $200,000 grant directly to ICANN to initiate this process—will enable the organization to hire staff, conduct outreach (including easy-to-understand educational materials), create technical mechanisms for global voting, translate key documents into several major languages for the benefit of all potential ICANN members worldwide, and initiate the voting process. Ms. Baird also announced that Markle had enlisted the support of, and is providing funds for efforts by, The Carter Center, Common Cause, the American Library Association and other organizations from around the world to help establish the election process, to reach out to Internet users, and to monitor the elections. These efforts are designed to encourage the greatest participation by the broadest geographic base of individuals and non-commercial users. Ms. Baird said, "Global institutions are beginning to oversee Internet activities. The decisions they make will determine whether the Internet achieves its potential as a powerful weapon for democratic values and aspirations. Management of the Internet by a private entity will not be stable or legitimate if that entity does not adequately include the public voice. So it is essential that ICANN—which is establishing rules that impact individuals and organizations alike—be accountable to all Internet users everywhere. Specifically, that means building a legitimate way for individuals to vote and create an authority they can trust. We are bringing in experts who can make this happen." Ms. Baird added, "The public must be aware of what is going on, understand what is at stake and have a meaningful opportunity to express its opinion. President Jimmy Carter and the Carter Center, which has overseen scores of elections worldwide, and Washington, DC-based Common Cause, under the leadership of former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, give the Internet community the expertise of leaders who understand how to build and protect democratic institutions. They—and our other partners—will help us forge essential ties between the Internet community and established democracy advocates here and abroad." Esther Dyson, Interim Chairman of ICANN's Initial Board of Directors, said, "We're just delighted that Markle will make such a substantial contribution to ICANN's At-Large Membership program. Markle's commitment to broad public participation in setting policy for the Internet infrastructure is evident in the size of the grant and the attention to the issues that come with it. Although ICANN's specific mandate is limited, we hope its activities will be a key foundation for Markle's initiatives in building public interest and participation in the global medium. We plan to use the money to move quickly in public outreach, so that we can have broad and informed public input as we move forward in the design and implementation of the At-Large membership structure, which will ultimately produce 9 of our 19 directors." Initiatives announced today The initiatives announced today include a $200,000 grant to ICANN, to fund the first phase of ICANN's At-Large Membership Implementation Program. This program is designed to build ICANN's At-Large Membership so that any Internet user in the world can participate. In addition, this grant will support the development of standards to ensure a fair, legitimate voting process and technical mechanisms for global voting. ICANN's At-Large Membership will ultimately select nine of ICANN's 19-member Board of Directors (nine additional directors have already been elected by the three Supporting Organizations; the President/CEO is the 19th member). Markle is also partnering with a wide range of independent entities to improve ICANN specifically and Internet governance generally: The Atlanta-based Carter Center, the world's leading election monitoring organization, will help the Internet community create an adequate mechanism to monitor the ICANN at-large membership elections in order to evaluate whether they are open and free of fraud. The Carter Center will also work with other leading experts in voting and democracy to determine standards for a fair election. Common Cause, a 200,000-plus member, nonpartisan organization promoting open, honest and accountable government, will create and lead an international group of experts in governance and public accountability to advise ICANN about how to build bona fide membership and voting processes. The American Library Association (ALA), the world's oldest and largest national library association, will distribute educational materials about ICANN and individual membership, including those produced by ICANN and others, in the United States and, in partnership with international library groups, throughout the world. In addition, the ALA has agreed to create virtual "voting booths" at libraries in the United States—and work with library organizations abroad to do the same thing—for the At-Large elections. The Center for Democracy and Technology(CDT), a leading civil liberties organization based in Washington, DC, will produce a pamphlet on why the public should care about ICANN and the decisions its makes. The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School—a research program founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development—will explore mechanisms for open governance and deliberation online. In addition, Markle and the Berkman Center co-hosted a public workshop on ICANN and pressing public interest issues in Los Angeles on October 31st. Markle also intends to take other steps to assist leaders from around the world to participate in meetings of ICANN. Said Scott Harshbarger, President of Common Cause, and former Attorney General of Massachusetts, "Throughout our 30-year history, Common Cause has been a leading voice for citizens on issues of democratic process, civic participation, and openness and accountability in American government. We look forward to drawing on this experience to promote democratic values in Internet governance through work with the Markle Foundation." "Libraries are the cornerstone of democracy," said ALA President-Elect Nancy Kranich. "They provide the information people need to be well informed, and they provide access to millions of users. No place is better suited than libraries to foster democracy in action on the Internet." Jerry Berman, Executive Director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, added, "Control over Internet names could ultimately impact vital public interest including free expression, personal privacy, and the structure of tomorrow's Internet. An open and accessible domain name system makes it possible for anyone to stand on a street corner in cyberspace and speak to the whole world. We need to make sure that domain name governance is consistent with our fundamental civil liberties. Public interest participation in and oversight of this governance system is essential to preserve those liberties." "Deliberation is at the core of both open education and open governance: a chance for views to evolve and to be refined, rather than simply summed," said Jonathan Zittrain, Executive Director of the Berkman Center. "We are seeking to build a kernel of open source tools to facilitate broad-based online discussion, deliberation, and closure on issues that concern large and diverse groups of people and institutions." ICANN Initiatives are Centerpiece of Markle's Internet Governance Project The initiatives announced today at ICANN's first annual meeting are part of Markle's recently-launched Internet Governance Project (IGP). Markle has committed more than $1 million to the Internet Governance Project, which is designed to promote the public interest in nontraditional, international venues where decisions are increasingly made and standards are set that affect the Internet. These venues—non-governmental organizations such as ICANN and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and intergovernmental or regional organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization—consider such issues as electronic commerce standards, intellectual property, consumer protection, privacy, content regulation, taxation and online jurisdiction. An important component of Markle's Policy for a Networked Society program, the Internet Governance Project will promote the public's interest in a number of ways, such as: Increase awareness among public interest leaders about how the decisions of non-traditional policy-making entities are affecting their constituencies; Provide useful, cutting-edge policy analysis from scholars and professionals from the law, political science, public policy and other relevant disciplines; Assist in institution building by working with nontraditional policymaking entities to make them more accountable and democratic as they remain efficient and goal oriented. Markle Foundation works to improve health and national security through the use of information and technology. Markle collaborates with innovators and thought leaders from the public and private sectors whose expertise lies in the areas of information technology, privacy, civil liberties, health, and national security. Learn more about Markle at www.markle.org. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non-profit, international corporation formed in September 1998 to oversee a select set of Internet technical management functions currently managed by the U.S. Government, or by its contractors and volunteers. Specifically, ICANN is assuming responsibility for coordinating the management of the domain name system (DNS), and other important features of the Internet.
NEW YORK, NY—Andrew Rasiej, Founder & President of MOUSE (Making Opportunities for Upgrading Schools & Education), a non-profit organization providing volunteer manpower and technical support to New York City public schools, announced today that 550 industry professionals will gather on October 26 at New York's famous Windows on the World to support and recognize exceptional leadership in bridging the digital divide in New York City public schools with the first annual "Champions of Technology & Education" Awards. "Champion of Technology & Education Awards recipients include Zoë Baird; President, Markle Foundation, Charles Raymond; President and COO, Citigroup Foundation; Mark Swanson; President, iXL, Fernando Espuelas; President, StarMedia, as well as an outstanding public high school teacher and student. "These champions prove everyday that a personal commitment to education does make a difference. Without their involvement, the effort to bring technology to those who have not been served could not effectively happen," Andrew Rasiej, Founder & President, MOUSE. "I am quite honored to receive this award, especially from an organization that has itself done so much work with technology on behalf of children," said Baird. "The Markle Foundation and MOUSE share the view that new communications media have enormous potential to help our children grow, learn and prosper, and we're both working to give children the communications tools that will truly benefit them." Distinguished attendees such as Bill Thompson, President of the New York City Board of Education, Virginia Fields; Manhattan Borough President, etc and over thirty leading Internet companies have joined MOUSE in the launch of this prestigious fundraising event. MOUSE, since its launch in 1997, has provided 24 public high schools with an estimated $1.5 million worth of technical expertise and support. On September 29, MOUSE and its partners, the 168th Street Armory Track and Field Center and Community School District 6, were awarded a three-year $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to set up a community technology center in Washington Heights.
CAMBRIDGE, MA—This final event of the Markle-funded Media in Transition Project at M.I.T. aims to establish a broad-gauged discussion of our emerging computer culture in the perspective of ancestor technologies and older media. The conference includes some 75 presentations on many aspects of this subject, a series of multi-media demonstrations and films offered in parallel with the presentations, and three plenary "conversations" in which distinguished panelists will speak briefly and then participate in extended dialogue with the audience. Among the panelists: Phil Agre, Robert Darnton, Henry Jenkins, Elaine Kamarck, Adam Powell, Mitchel Resnick, Paul Starr, Bob Stein, Maria Tata.
NEW YORK, NY—Ruth Ann Burns, Vice President and Director of the Educational Resources Center at Thirteen/WNET and Zoë Baird, President of the Markle Foundation announced today the launch of Learning Adventures in Citizenship, an interactive project designed to promote student participation and volunteerism in their communities. Acting as an educational companion to Ric Burns' six-part series, New York: A Documentary Film, Learning Adventures in Citizenship provides a national, standards-based Web curricula for middle school students and their teachers, to teach them how they can take responsibility for solving problems in their communities. Developed with, and underwritten by the Markle Foundation, Learning Adventures is part of the Foundation's $100 million investment over the next three-to-five years to help ensure that public needs are served by emerging communications media and information technologies. Learning Adventures in Citizenship takes visitors through six consecutive time periods in New York City history. This virtual experience in time travel is brought to life through interactive learning material, such as QuickTime video, GIF and Flash animation, audio, student activities, lesson plans, and a "Citizenship Gallery"-forms that students can submit of their classroom and community projects across America. With an official launch on Friday, October 1st, Learning Adventures in Citizenship can be found at two locations, www.wnet.org/newyork and www.pbs.org/newyork. New York: A Documentary Film premiers on Sunday, November 14th on PBS. Specifically, Learning Adventures in Citizenship includes the following components: "Learning Adventures," which presents interactive environments that contain learning material and student activities; · "For Teachers," which contains lesson plans, a primer on social science inquiry, and discussion forum; · "Citizenship Gallery," which features student works illustrating individual or classroom community projects; · "Citizenship Research Resources," a guide to research and citizenship resources; and · "Learning Adventure Contest," a national citizenship contest for students and children at home. "In a sense, visitors to the site will be given the proverbial key to the city of New York," said Ruth Ann Burns, Vice President and Director of Thirteen/WNET's Educational Resources Center. "Hopefully, they'll use that key to unlock the doors to their own communities, to explore the past, present and future of those communities, and to discover the many opportunities for participation and volunteerism." According to Zoë Baird, President of the Markle Foundation, Learning Adventures in Citizenship embodies some of the best things the Internet can offer children and parents. Learning Adventures in Citizenship is an important and engaging way for children to use their own media to discover how they can contribute to their communities through the lessons of those who built our hometown—New York City. So many key elements of Learning Adventures—from video clips and animation to audio and online contests—make this an exciting and fun way to learn about not only New York, but communities across America. Learning Adventures in Citizenship is a multi-disciplinary resource that can be used in the classroom or at home. Most important, it gets young people involved in their community." Learning Adventures in Citizenship includes educational activities in social studies, science, technology, language arts, music and the fine arts and places them within the context of New York City's economic, political, technological and cultural evolution. It is built around an interactive multimedia knowledge base that synthesizes and expands on the information included in New York: A Documentary Film and makes it available to teachers and students in a creative assortment of lesson plans, online activities, classroom and team projects and individual assignments. In addition, teachers can take advantage of citizenship research resources that are organized by state and topic. About Thirteen/WNET wNetStation, Thirteen/WNET's Web site, is a project of the New Media Group at Thirteen/WNET's Kravis Multimedia Education Center. Ruth Ann Burns is Vice President of the Educational Resources Center. Barry Levine is Director of wNetStation and Online Programs at Thirteen/WNET. Anthony Chapman is the senior producer of Learning Adventures in Citizenship. New York: A Documentary Film, a special presentation of The American Experience, is a production of Steeplechase Films in association with WGBH Boston, Thirteen/WNET in New York, and the New-York Historical Society. Major support for the series is provided by The Chase Manhattan Corporation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Ford Foundation, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Public Television Viewers and PBS, and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. Additional funding is provided by the J. M. Kaplan Fund, the Susan and Elihu Rose Foundation Inc., Rosalind P. Walter, Central Parking Corporation, Glenwood Management Corporation, Judith and Burton Resnick, The Sheldon H. Solow Foundation, and Alan Wiener/American Property Financing Inc. Thirteen/WNET in New York is one of the key program providers for public television, bringing such acclaimed series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters and Charlie Rose—as well as the work of Bill Moyers—to audiences nationwide. As the flagship public broadcaster in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut metro area, Thirteen/WNET reaches millions of viewers each week—airing the best of American public television along with its own local productions such as City Arts and Reel New York. With educational and community outreach projects that enhance value of its productions, Thirteen/WNET takes television "out of the box." And as broadcast and digital media converge, Thirteen/WNET is blazing trails in the creation of Web sites, CD-ROMs, educational software, and other cutting-edge media products.
NEW YORK, NY—The Markle Foundation will invest up to $100 million over the next three-to-five years to help ensure that public needs are served by emerging communications media and information technologies, it was announced today by Zoë Baird, Markle's President. Emphasizing the potential of the Internet and other new media to improve people's lives, Baird unveiled plans for a significant increase in Markle's spending as well as four new areas of focus for the Foundation, and initial partnerships with several nonprofit, academic and commercial entities. "New communications media are shaping the future of our politics, our culture and our economic relationships. The next few years represent a unique opportunity to develop these emerging tools for the public's benefit," said Baird. "This is a critical time, while the industry is still in flux, to try to realize the potential of new media to meet public needs. We intend to operate with a sense of urgency, working in collaboration with other nonprofits, academic institutions, government and the industry itself." The announcement is the result of a comprehensive review of the current communications landscape begun when Ms. Baird became Markle's president in 1998. The examination has led the New York-based Foundation to identify four key areas of public need in which it will concentrate: Public Engagement through Interactive Technologies, which will encourage the use of communications technology to help people actively pursue knowledge and participate in democratic society. Policy for a Networked Society, which will work to enhance the public voice in the consideration and resolution of domestic and international policies that are surfacing in this new communications environment. Interactive Media for Children, which aims to enhance the potential for children to benefit from using interactive technologies. The program also aims to expand public expectations for what these technologies can do to enhance children's lives. Healthcare, which will work to improve the ability of patients and consumers, and those who treat them, to make use of information technology to improve their health and health care. In addition, the Foundation announced the creation of an Opportunity Fund to support public interest initiatives that fall outside these primary program areas and to ensure that intellectual and financial resources are available for unanticipated projects. "Zoë Baird and the terrific Markle Foundation team have an opportunity to have a significant impact on the role communications technologies will play in our lives," said Lewis W. Bernard, the Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Foundation. "This is an important time in the evolution of the industry, and we are therefore making a serious commitment to provide the resources necessary for the course the Foundation has charted." A private, nonprofit philanthropy, the Markle Foundation is the largest grantmaking foundation concentrating exclusively on the field of communications media and information technology. According to the announcement, Markle will pursue its goals through a range of activities, including analysis, research, public information and the development of innovative media products and services. The Foundation will also create and operate many of its own projects - using not only grants but also investments and strategic alliances with non-profits and businesses. Among the grants and investments announced today: A $4.5 million investment in a project with Oxygen Media for research and experimentation in converging media. Markle has made a program-related investment of $3.5 million to create a partnership with Oxygen Media for the development of the Oxygen/Markle Pulse, which aims to enhance the influence of the audience over the creation of content. The Oxygen/Markle Pulse will track and measure women's attitudes, needs and values to engage them as active partners in informing Oxygen's content online and on cable television. This information will also be widely distributed to the public. In addition, Markle is creating a $1 million Experimental Fund for Converging Media with Oxygen for the creation of new programming, tools and technologies that might not otherwise be developed on a strictly commercial basis. A $200,000 grant for Web White & Blue, for the Markle Foundation and partners to broaden access to national and local election information during the 2000 elections. Markle created the Internet-based Web White & Blue campaign in 1998 with Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, America Online and numerous other commercial and noncommercial sites. Markle and America Online and others will partner again to help citizens find election information through Web White & Blue 2000. A $400,000 grant for Thirteen/WNET to support New York: Learning Adventures in Citizenship, a curriculum-based Internet project that will use the Web to teach children about their responsibility in the community and the ability to act on it. The project is being created to tie in with filmmaker Ric Burns' "New York," an upcoming five-part documentary on PBS. A $140,000 grant for the College of Communications, University of Texas at Austin to create a research agenda addressing the potential for interactive technology to meet children's cognitive, social, emotional, and physical needs. A $76,500 grant for Oxford University to support the Programme on Comparative Media and Law. The Programme studies policy and regulation strategies that nation-states create in response to media globalization, and the implications of these strategies for democracy and human rights. A $157,000 grant for the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to lay the groundwork for dialogue and development of Chinese media law, including the publication in Chinese of Western legal scholarship on free speech and communications law, and support for an international symposium on these issues in China. A $50,000 grant for the International Rescue Committee to develop and implement Child Connect, a software-based program to reconnect refugee children with their parents, and the Kosovar Family Finder, which uses database technology to provide refugees with location information of displaced family and friends. A $500,000 grant for Internews Network to develop and apply for a license for an interactive, 24-hour live television channel on two major Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) systems. It will be integrated with the Internet and dedicated to quality international affairs programming. The opportunity to pursue such a channel is the result of a recent FCC ruling that DBS operators must make available four percent of their channel capacity to public interest programming. Markle Foundation works to improve health and national security through the use of information and technology. Markle collaborates with innovators and thought leaders from the public and private sectors whose expertise lies in the areas of information technology, privacy, civil liberties, health, and national security. Learn more about Markle at www.markle.org.
WASHINGTON, DC—Web White & Blue, the campaign to promote easy access to election-related information on the Internet, has demonstrated the public's tremendous interest in using the Internet for election information and has in fact made that information easier to find, according to a survey of those using the site. Web White & Blue also has resulted in substantial increases in traffic at several of the election- related resources linked through the Web White & Blue site. Close to 400,000 users have already logged on to Web White & Blue since it was launched October 7. The Web White & Blue awareness campaign is sponsored by the Markle Foundation and Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and supported by hundreds of major industry and nonprofit Web sites. These sites have joined together in an unprecedented effort to donate prime "real estate" for placement of the Web White & Blue icon or banner ad to help Americans become better informed about politics. In a voluntary survey answered by more than 500 visitors to the Web White & Blue site, the most striking preliminary findings are: 84 percent of survey respondents said 1998 is the first year they have used the Internet to get election information; 88 percent said that Web White & Blue was extremely or quite easy to use; 49 percent learned about Web White & Blue by seeing the icon or the banner ads displayed on leading Internet sites; 61 percent say they expect to use the Internet as their primary media source for election information in 2000. "Web White & Blue makes democracy easier," said Markle Foundation President Zoe Baird. "These findings indicate that the American public wants political information that is easy to use, and that the Internet can provide it. Efforts like Web White & Blue can transform citizen involvement in politics." There are now more than 1,200 sites displaying the Web White & Blue icon, up from 350 when the site was launched three weeks ago. The icon links directly to the Web White & Blue site, which in turn links to 45 Web sites that offer a range of election-related resources. DemocracyNet, one of the resource sites whose access and visibility was significantly heightened through its link from Web White & Blue, registered a 1,200 percent increase in page views from October 1 to October 7 and continues to have a regular viewership that is 600 percent higher than it was prior to the launch of Web White & Blue. Minnesota E-Democracy reported a 300 percent increase during the same time period and has maintained double the viewership that it had prior to the Web White & Blue launch. "Web White & Blue is fulfilling its promise to be a portal for democracy," said Steve Case, chairman and CEO of America Online, which is hosting the site. "This unprecedented online initiative will have a major impact on shaping the way the public gets political information in 2000." Other compelling findings from the Web White & Blue user survey include: 80 percent of those who said television was their primary news source were especially impressed with the comprehensiveness of the Web White & Blue site. Almost 90 percent of those users age 46 and over said they were getting election information from the Internet for the first time. 81 percent of the Web White & Blue users said they would recommend the site to a friend. "Web White & Blue has clearly met a need among Internet users who wanted to know more about the upcoming election," said Shorenstein Center Director Marvin Kalb. "We look forward to using what we've learned about educating voters online in 1998 to make the Internet an even more effective and interactive information tool in the presidential election in 2000." Web White & Blue links to election-related resources in the following categories: Voter Information - polling locations and youth resources Your State - government and non-profit election-oriented Web sites, by state Issues - comprehensive issue directories, candidate positions and public opinion poll results Campaigns - candidate directories and more Election News - national, regional and state news sites Participate - discussion about politics and election issues On election night, November 3, Web White & Blue will offer Internet users a comprehensive directory of links to live election results compiled by state governments and national media organizations. The John and Mary R. Markle Foundation is a private, not-for-profit grantmaking foundation that was incorporated in 1927 in the state of New York by John Markle and his wife, Mary R. Markle. The Foundation has assets of $180 million, and makes charitable contributions of approximately $9 million per year in the development and use of technologies of communication and information to enhance lifelong learning and promote an informed citizenry. The Media and Political Participation program aims to study the democratic process and develop new practices for how media and technology can improve citizen participation in national politics. Currently, the Markle Foundation supports applied research on political campaigns and creates innovative experiments that use new media technologies to enhance political dialogue, deliberation and participation among citizens. The Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy is a Harvard research center dedicated to exploring the intersection of press, politics and public policy in theory and practice. The Center strives to bridge the gap between journalists and scholars and, increasingly, between them and the public. Through teaching and research at the Kennedy School of Government and through its program of fellows and conferences, the Center is at the forefront of discussions in this area. Established in 1986 with a generous gift from the Shorenstein Family, the Center has emerged as a major source for research on U.S. campaigns and elections, journalism and public policy, international news, and race, gender and the press. It is a widely respected convener of journalists, scholars and political activists working to help the press improve its role in democracy."
WASHINGTON, DC—The Markle Foundation and Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government today joined with industry leaders representing hundreds of Web sites to unveil "Web White & Blue Day" on October 7, an awareness campaign promoting easy access to election-related information. The campaign seeks to harness the power of the Internet to strengthen democracy by giving Internet users a more informed and authoritative voice in the 1998 elections, which are just four weeks away. Commercial sites are leveraging their massive audience appeal to encourage participation among the broadest possible range of Internet users. More than 350 commercial and nonprofit Web sites—including ABC News, Microsoft, the Democracy Network, Infoseek, the League of Women Voters, Compaq, Hispanic Online, iVillage and Yahoo!—have joined together for the first time at a national level to get Americans informed about politics by displaying an icon on their homepage that links Internet users directly to the Web White & Blue Day site. The campaign's Web site—at www.webwhiteblue.org—will be live October 7 and remain active through the election, November 3. Web hosting services for the campaign are being provided by America Online. The Internet recently passed a milestone in cementing its role in American politics: Last month some 20 million people used the Net to gain access to the Starr Report within 24 hours after the report was released. "Participation in our democracy just became easier," Markle Foundation President Zoe Baird said. "Web White & Blue Day will insure that the vast array of political information on the Web is as accessible and user-friendly as possible. As 1998 unfolds, the public clearly feels that the Web is an important part of the political process. This unique partnership will further that trend." Based on historical traffic records for Web usage, it is estimated that more than 25-30 million Web users will see the Web White & Blue Day icon throughout the campaign. Almost 35 percent of the U.S. adult population now uses the Internet, and Americans have adopted this medium faster than they adopted television, radio, and the telephone. While citizen involvement in politics is at an all-time low - less than half of the voting age population in the U.S. voted in the 1996 election according to the Federal Election Commission - 60 percent of "connected" Americans vote, according to a 1997 study by Wired magazine. The Internet can "fundamentally change our political process by empowering people to educate themselves," America Online Chairman and CEO Steve Case said. "Web White & Blue Day illustrates this tremendous power - how the Internet can provide a depth and breadth of information in one place that's simply impossible to duplicate in the traditional media." The Web White & Blue Day site offers election-related resources in the following categories: Voter Information - polling locations and youth resources Your State - government and non-profit election-oriented Web sites, by state Issues -comprehensive issue directories, candidate positions and public opinion poll results Campaigns - candidate directories and more Election News - national, regional and state news sites Participate - discussion about politics and election issues All together, Web White & Blue Day links to 45 Web sites that offer a range of political information, from ELECnet, which links to state, county and city sites in all 50 states, to the Center for Responsive Politics, which offers in-depth campaign finance information, to Project Vote Smart, which tracks information on more than 13,000 candidates and elected officials, to the Newspaper Association of America's Newspaperlinks.com, which is creating a new directory of local election coverage by its 850 members. The more than 350 web sites carrying the Web White & Blue Day icon represent organizations ranging from major Internet search engines and services, to media organizations, online directories and general-interest sites that focus on sports—types of Web sites not usually associated with politics. "The value of the commitment by commercial sites to putting the Web White & Blue Day icon on their homepage cannot be overstated," said Baird. "It means that millions more Internet users will visit the site, and we hope they will be motivated by what they see to actively participate in the political process." Web White & Blue Day has also attracted wide online involvement by families, local governments, small businesses, libraries and local citizens' groups. "What we learn from Web White & Blue Day about educating voters on-line in 1998 will help us make the Internet more effective for voters in the presidential election in 2000," said Marvin Kalb, director of Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. The John and Mary R. Markle Foundation is a private, not-for-profit grantmaking foundation that was incorporated in 1927 in the state of New York by John Markle and his wife, Mary R. Markle. The Foundation has assets of $180 million, and makes charitable contributions of approximately $9 million per year in the development and use of technologies of communication and information to enhance lifelong learning and promote an informed citizenry. The Media and Political Participation program aims to study the democratic process and develop new practices for how media and technology can improve citizen participation in national politics. Currently, the Markle Foundation supports applied research on political campaigns and creates innovative experiments that use new media technologies to enhance political dialogue, deliberation and participation among citizens. The Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy is a Harvard research center dedicated to exploring the intersection of press, politics and public policy in theory and practice. The Center strives to bridge the gap between journalists and scholars and, increasingly, between them and the public. Through teaching and research at the Kennedy School of Government and through its program of fellows and conferences, the Center is at the forefront of discussions in this area. Established in 1986 with a generous gift from the Shorenstein Family, the Center has emerged as a major source for research on U.S. campaigns and elections, journalism and public policy, international news, and race, gender and the press. It is a widely respected convener of journalists, scholars and political activists working to help the press improve its role in democracy.
NEW YORK, NY—At 6:00 AM, PDT a new era in American Politics began. At long last, the promise of the Internet—to provide voters on-demand access to high quality information about government and politics—has been fulfilled. "Democracy Network's national launch marks the birth of a new political paradigm—one where voters can get their information directly from the candidates, in the format they want, when they want it," says Tracy Westen, President of the Democracy Network. "DNet makes the promise of the Internet a reality by bringing a nation full of election and government information into a single, easy to navigate site." "Before DNet, voters only direct communication with candidates was in the form of paid television advertisements or mailers. DNet was designed to make it easy for voters to communicate directly with candidates," says Area Madaras, Director of the Democracy Network. "DNet's format encourages candidates to offer detailed and informative statements about their positions rather than negative statements about an opponent. And it makes it easy for voters to find and review this information. DNet takes the work out of becoming an informed voter." DNet's signature feature is the candidate grid—a single page that provides voters access to every candidate's statement on the issues in a campaign. Voters can also search for one issue across multiple elections. A new feature, the Issue of the Day, allows voters to review issue debates in other states. Where grids are unavailable, DNet provides links to reliable sources of information. Tom Grubisich, Managing Editor, Digital City/America Online, was attracted to DNet because of the wealth of information it provides coupled with its ease of use. "DNet is a crucial component of our mission to provide online coverage that will not only keep people informed about political races and ballot questions in their states and congressional districts but give them opportunities to help shape the agenda of issues." Dr. Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, President of the League of Women Voters, explains why the League of Women Voters Education Fund has joined with Dnet to create sites in seven states. "Voters have told us they need in-depth, nonpartisan information on voting procedures, election materials and candidates and we are providing that with the latest in online technology. By providing this information online, the League is guaranteeing that all citizens can quickly access complete information to make informed decisions - whether they work third shift or long days in the law firm." DNet has won numerous awards for its pioneering role in the area of online public affairs information. It is expanding its award winning coverage across the United States with the help of its partners the League of Women Voters and the Earth Pledge Foundation. Becky Cain, Former League of Women Voters President, stated "The Democracy Network project offers a wonderful opportunity to use new technology to enhance the democratic process. We were so impressed that the Board selected the project for a Leadership Award in recognition of the innovative use of interactive media."
PITTSBURGH, PA—There are many issues related to use of the Internet—from loneliness and depression caused by too much online time to what can be done to make the Internet a more social place. These questions and answers deal with these issues in greater depth. The comments are based on recent findings gathered from HomeNet, the first study to look specifically at the impact that the Internet has on general emotional well being, particularly the emotional well being of families. Those findings were generally negative. Respondents include Carnegie Mellon's Robert Kraut, a professor of social psychology and human-computer interaction; Sara Kiesler, a professor of social and decision sciences; Tridas Mukophadhyay, a professor at Carnegie Mellon's graduate business school; and William Scherlis, a senior research scientist and director of the Information Technology Center in the School of Computer Science. Vicki Lundmark, a post-doctoral candidate, and Michael Patterson, a graduate student in Social and Decision Sciences, contributed to the research findings. QUESTION. Why has something perceived as being so social had such an anti-social impact on its users? Kiesler: For many people, the Internet is wonderfully convenient and fun. No need to dress up to "meet" new people, join a group discussion, or get in touch with your brother in Alaska. So talking on the Net is fun and rewarding. But talking on the Net takes time and attention away from your "real life." Think of the teenager avidly typing away in his room instead of playing a pick-up game of softball with his friends, and avoiding that party where he doesn't know anyone. Friends in real life are sometimes more troublesome, but they are the people who play a bigger role in one's life—the people who know you as a person and who are there to give the most all-round social support. Of course, if there *is* nobody around for you, then the Internet might be a lifesaver. But even so, maybe it would be better if the Internet helped people find local friends rather than far-flung people who may disappear from their lives as easily as they entered them This is exactly the paradox we are trying to understand, and we have to admit we don't yet have all the answers. Kraut: We're starting to think that the problem isn't with what people get when they go on-line, but with what they give up in their real lives to achieve it. It is likely that the social contact people get on the Internet is of lower quality than the social contact they get when they talk to members of their family, go to church groups or clubs, or have dinner parties. In some ways, it's easier to get on-line social contact than to get the real thing. You don't have to be at the same place at the same time, and can communicate when it's convenient for you. With the strangers you meet in chat rooms, you can always drop the relationships they don't work out, without having to run into them again and again. The problem may be, though, that the easy is driving out the good. Mukophadhyay: It's true that the Internet allows us to get to know a lot of people we would not meet otherwise. People can use email, go to chat rooms, subscribe to distribution lists or newsgroups. You have many ways to meet many people. Of course, you can also surf the Web as much as you want. However, the key point is that cyber-friendship may be good if you have no opportunity to meet people. But it's not a good substitute for real-life friendship. In fact, if you like someone you meet on the Internet, chances are that you would want to meet that person face to face. QUESTION: Did the findings surprise the research team? Kiesler: Yes, the findings surprised me for two reasons. First, many studies of work communication, including our own, were showing positive effects of electronic communication on such things as knowledge of the organization or participation in organizational life. Second, many anecdotal studies that preceded ours suggested there would be only positive effects. Third, we expected measures such as depression and social involvement to be very stable, and not to be affected by a single technology. Kraut: When we started this research, we weren't sure whether the Internet was going to be used more like the telephone or the TV, the other important information technologies heavily used at home. Our own research had shown that for the people we were studying, the phone-like uses were more important. They used the Internet to keep in touch with friends and family and to make new friends on-line. Teenagers rushed home from school to exchange mail with kids they saw an hour earlier. Both teens and adults also started to have chitchat and to exchange information with people they met on distribution lists or in chat rooms. These social uses were more important to them than finding impersonal entertainment and information on the World Wide Web. So we were shocked when we discovered that as people used the Internet more, they became more socially isolated and lonelier. And using the Internet primarily for communication purposes didn't seem to prevent these negative effects. Mukophadhyay: I was not surprised that the Internet had some negative effects. It's only natural that a powerful new technology like the Internet will have some unexpected consequences. What is surprising is that it seems uniformly and negatively to affect a bunch of measures of social involvement and emotional well being. QUESTION: How can you be showing that using the Internet leads to less social involvement when common experience and your own data show that it is used heavily for keeping up with old friends and making new ones? Kraut: To draw conclusions about the consequences of using the Internet, one needs to have comparisons. One needs to compare people who are using the Internet heavily with people who are not using it or using it very little. People can only report on what they have experienced, and many of us have experienced using the Internet for social purposes. But people can't easily report on what they are giving up, what economists call opportunity costs. For example, I find the Internet very convenient for keeping up with colleagues from my old job. The question is, does the time and energy I devote to these email messages hinder me from forming strong friendships with people in my current work setting or community? The best way to see what is being given up, is by comparing heavy and light users. QUESTION: Why should readers take this research more seriously than many other studies on consequences of using computers and the Internet? Kraut: First, this is one of the few pieces of research that has looked at all at the social and psychological consequences of using the Internet. Second, unlike some national surveys, this research measures actual usage. Our data tell us that there is a lot of error in people's reports about how much they use the Internet. Third and most important, we measure Internet use, social involvement and psychological well being at multiple time points. As a result, we can rule out the possibility that being socially isolated, lonely and depressed causes people to use the Internet more, and can discover what the consequences are of using the Internet once initial social and psychological state are taken into account. QUESTION: Society survived the introduction of the telephone and television. Do you think we'll survive the Internet? Kiesler: We humans are very confident, very smart and very adaptive. So of course we will survive the Internet. But we can make changes in technology, too. We made changes in the telephone (automated switching, privacy protections, universal service) and in television (Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street, and rating systems). We expect changes in the Internet. We hope the basis for these changes will be research rather than hyperbole or scare tactics based on anecdotes. Mukophadhyay: Society changes. But the Internet is changing faster and will continue to do so for some time. It'll be a while before we come to terms with the Internet. QUESTION: There are lots of other technologies that distract people from their social relationships. Is the Internet worse than them? Kraut: When people watch TV, play video games, or even read, they are withdrawing from social interaction. We can't directly compare whether spending an hour on the Internet is better or worse than spending it watching TV. Other researchers have shown effects of watching TV that are similar to the ones we see for using the Internet. My personal opinion is similar to those expressed by some of the parents in our study. They think that much of what their kids do on-line is a waste of time, but it's a better waste of time than watching TV, because its more personally engaging, active, social and literate. Mukophadhyay: There are two issues here. First, it's too early to have a definitive opinion about the Internet. Second, there is a fundamental difference between the Internet and TV or any other household technologies. The Internet is so flexible and has so many possibilities. We would probably see a wide range of impact from the Internet. QUESTION: If the Internet is having these negative effects, why are people using it so much? Kraut: It's important to remember that we have only looked at a small set of the possible effects that the Internet is having. We haven't investigated whether using the Internet provides job-relevant skills for people, gives them useful information for work or school, allows them to organize their home lives or purchases more efficiently, changes their self-esteem, or had any number of compensating benefits. It is possible that, all things considered, the Internet is actually good for people. On the other hand, we have many other examples of people engaging in behavior that is bad for them, either because the immediate experience is pleasurable even though the long-term consequences are bad or because the cost to gain some pleasure is so low. TV is the classic example. Adults watch over two hours of TV per day and spend less than 60 minutes visiting with friends and conversing with them, even though they much prefer socializing to watching TV. The reason sees to be that watching TV is easier than socializing, even though adults don't like watching TV that much. Mukophadhyay: People believe that the Internet is here to stay. It is the way to go for the future. They do not want to miss the boat. Let us also not forget that the Internet is a valuable tool for getting information and even for communication. QUESTION: We're just not talking about Internet addicts are we? Should we ALL be concerned about the findings? Kiesler: We didn't see a sudden drop in psychological well being or social involvement when people reached a certain number of hours of usage. Our results show a "linear" effect, which means the more Internet, the more the negative results. It is important to emphasize that this research report doesn't apply to educational and learning effects of the Internet. Our data suggest that there may be a tradeoff here, with more usage leading to better computer skills or worldly knowledge, and even self-esteem enhancements, even while social involvement declines somewhat. Mukophadhyay: We're talking about average people who use the Internet heavily and experience negative consequences. The lesson is that one should not run away from friends and families and escape into cyberspace. QUESTION: How can we recognize susceptibility in ourselves—in other words, when can we, as individuals, recognize that we may be entering a danger zone of Internet usage? Kiesler: Many people do things "too much." Eating quarts of ice cream at night, smoking three packs a day and sitting at the computer 10 hours at a time. Many people know very well when they are in a danger zone, and they must decide to change their behavior themselves. Most people probably do. We are planning to analyze our sample over a somewhat longer time period to see who drops and who doesn't and how their own behavioral changes affect their well being. QUESTION: If teens are afflicted more by loneliness and depression brought on by Internet use, do you have any useful advice for parents, schools or college counselors? Kiesler: Send them to camp, encourage them to play sports, help them be with real life friends. Kraut: My teenaged kids have access to the Internet, which I pay for, so obviously I think that the Internet can be valuable for them. But we've put limits on how much they can use the computer. I've also talked to my kids about this research and its implications, and tried to encourage them to monitor how they use it. I try to encourage them to get involved in real social activity -- after school clubs, temple youth group, visits to friends, volunteer work. As parents, we refused to allow them to put a computer in their bedroom, so we could monitor how much they use it. Scherlis: It would be an overreaction to stop Internet use altogether, since the educational and learning benefits would also stop. Our point is that use of the Internet has many kinds of social effects (just like the telephone and TV). We should consider all these effects in making judgments about its use for ourselves and as parents. We should also recognize that this technology is evolving rapidly, and its social impacts will also change. Finally, there are many different ways the Internet can be used (again, like the telephone and TV). Parents and teachers should focus their attention on the nature of the Internet use as well as the amount of the use. Mukophadhyay: The advice is simple. Maintain open communication and stay vigilant. As far as the computer and Internet go, the best thing to do is to put the machine in a public place—in the living room or kitchen rather than the basement or the kid's room. This will automatically ensure that your teen does not use the Internet too much. QUESTION: The Internet was first created for sharing scientific information and not for social activity. Would it be better if it went back to being that? Kiesler: The Internet (it wasn't called that) was first created so engineers and computer scientists could share computers. Even in those early days, it was used extensively for communication. You aren't going to change that, and you wouldn't want to. Society depends on communication, and grows stronger with more communication. Perhaps it would be better if people talked more with local family and friends rather than chatting away on the Internet with strangers. But we don't know for sure what led to our effects, so this is just speculation on our part. Kraut: Absolutely not. I have confidence that we can shape service on the Internet so that it will have beneficial influences. I've seen many cases where people are able to reconnect to a long-lost friend, share problems and get advice, pleasurably pass the time and provide social support on-line. Our goal should be to make this style of interaction increase and to make the likelihood of wasted interaction decrease. QUESTION: If not, what needs to happen to make email a socially useful tool for communication—one that brings people with strong supportive ties together in positive ways? Kiesler: One thing preventing people from using the Internet to support local strong ties is that everyone close to them that they know doesn't have email or is wary of the technical complications. Email has to be more accessible to everyone locally and it should be as easy for grandpa as for his teenage grandson. Kraut: I think there are ways to use the Internet that will improve how it influences lives. For example, in our study, some of the kids who graduated from a local high school created distribution lists to keep in touch with their classmates after they moved on the college. They are able to share news, and to arrange activities when they came back to town for vacations. This seems to me to be a healthier use than one that encourages discussions with strangers. Even better would be services that support communication among already existing social groups. For example, schools could have after-school clubs and homework sessions on-line. If kids find electronic communication fascinating, then channel it so that they communicate with people with whom they already have ties. Mukophadhyay: Unfortunately, most people still do not have access to the Internet. We found how families were excited when a close friend or a distant relation went online. As the Internet becomes more widespread and it becomes easier to use, it will take its place beside the telephone, cellular telephone and beeper as a powerful medium for interpersonal communication. QUESTION: As consumers, what should we tell government regulators, Internet providers and software companies about what we want? Kiesler: The Internet is too often fodder for political debates and grandstanding. Policy-making should be based on careful empirical research. We don't hesitate to do evaluations of educational interventions and medical technologies. We should do much more empirical evaluation of the massive social intervention called the Internet. Scherlis: Issues related to content have triggered much of the policy debate on the Internet. But, like the telephone, the Internet itself, along with the user-level services it supports (such as email and the Web), is neutral with respect to the content it conveys. So we should avoid simplistic appraisals and focus on understanding the issues through careful research. QUESTION: What are the implications of this study on policy and technology development related to the Internet? Scherlis: For more than 20 years, the Internet served primarily to support the sharing of technical information among professionals working in offices. Most of the Internet services we use today—email, the Web and newsgroups, for example, were designed to support this technical exchange. Only recently has the Internet become a public resource, and the average citizen who uses the 'net has largely inherited this set of services. These services constitute the user experience of the Internet. There has been a lot of attention paid to the huge improvements in the capacity and connectivity of the network. But (except for multimedia support) the actual user-level services they support have not evolved very much since their introduction. (Packet-switched email was introduced in 1972, and the email systems we use today are similar to those of a quarter-century ago. The Web was invented in 1989 to help physicists share data and scientific results, and has evolved primarily in technical respects.) Our results suggest that this set of services is not well adapted, for example, to increasing the social involvement of network users. Historically, government research sponsorship and policy initiatives have been the major force behind the development of the Internet. Without the sustained government involvement over the past two decades, there would be no Internet today. But this attention has generally focused on network infrastructure. Our results suggest that there may be real benefits from greater R&D attention to the broad area of user-level communication and information services. Both industry and government can help foster this growth, through research into new services, experimentation, evaluation and standards development. QUESTION: Does this report end the debate about the social value of the Internet? Kiesler: The debate will continue as more data come in. Kraut: No, for several reasons. First, we don't know how these results generalize and how stable these results are. Will the results be the same at different eras, with more socially isolated people, using different services? We doubt it. And second, we don't really understand the mechanisms that produce the negative effects, even in the sample we've studied. One must understand both the limits of the results and the mechanisms behind them before designing solutions or making policy recommendations. Scherlis: Beware of monolithic characterizations of the Internet as socially "good" or "bad." The Internet is a complex and multi-faceted social phenomenon, and it is evolving rapidly. It is as diverse both in form and in content as the existing and established popular media. Any debate and subsequent policy setting must recognize this complexity. Mukophadhyay: This report really jump-starts the debate. We will next examine how stable or generalizable these results are. We'll also try to understand the mechanisms that cause these results. QUESTION: As your study progresses, what will you look at next? Kiesler: Do negative effects continue or do they dissipate as people get less enamored of the Internet? Are the effects we found the same for different kinds of people and different samples? Are the effects better or worse than the effects of television? Is there a tradeoff of positive educational effects or skill for negative social effects?
PITTSBURGH, PA—The Internet has the potential to make us socially isolated, lonely and depressed, according to the unexpected results of a study of home computer users by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University. The findings are gathered from HomeNet, the first study to look specifically at the impact that the Internet is having over time on the social involvement and psychological well being of average Americans. Published this month in The American Psychologist, a publication of the American Psychological Association, the findings provide a consistent picture of the downside of using the Internet extensively as a source of information or setting for friendship and or social support. "We were surprised to find that what is a social technology has such anti-social consequences," says Robert Kraut, a professor of social psychology and human computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon who is the lead author of the article for The American Psychologist. Even though people in the study heavily used electronic mail and other communication services on the Internet, the research found that spending time on the Internet was associated with later declines in talking among family members, reductions in the number of friends and acquaintances they kept up with, and increases in depression and loneliness. Because the research studied the same people over time, it could rule out the possibility that people who are initially socially isolated, lonely and depressed were drawn to the Internet. Rather, according to Kraut, using the Internet seems to cause isolation, loneliness and depression. "Our results have clear implications for further research on personal Internet use. As we understand the reasons for the declines in social involvement, there will be implications for social policies and for the design of Internet technology," he adds. Various scientific and marketing reports say that more than 50 million Americans are using the Internet, a number that is rapidly growing. Given widespread use and with more growth expected, Kraut says the Internet could change the lives of Americans as much as the telephone did in the early 20th century or as television did in the 1950s and 1960s. "We want to help make these changes good ones," he says. HomeNet studied 169 personal computer users in Pittsburgh, whose communications on the Internet were monitored during their first years online. The home computer users are families with a wide range of demographic backgrounds whose common bond was a high school age student or membership in a community development group. The families used electronic mail, the World Wide Web and computer games, among other normal home computing uses. Time spent online varied a great deal among the subjects. Members of the research team are part of Carnegie Mellon's Human-Computer Interaction Institute and include Kraut and Sara Kiesler, a professor of social and decision sciences; Tridas Mukophadhyay, a professor at Carnegie Mellon's graduate business school; William Scherlis, a senior research scientist and director of the Information Technology Center in the School of Computer Science; Vicki Lundmark, a post-doctoral fellow, and Michael Patterson, a graduate student in Social and Decision Sciences. "We hope our findings help make things change on the Internet. We are not talking about Internet addicts, just regular people," Kraut says. "These are not just results that occur in the extremes. And these are the same people who, when asked, describe the Internet as a positive thing." The technology that has allowed people to keep in touch with distant family members and friends, to find information quickly and to develop friendships with people around the world apparently is also replacing vital, everyday human communication. "Many users may be substituting weak online friendships for their stronger, real-life relationships," Kiesler says. "You don't have to deal with unpleasantness, because if you don't like somebody's behavior, you can just log off. In real life, relationships aren't always easy. Yet dealing with some of those hard parts is good for us. It helps us keep connected with people." Greater use of the Internet was associated with statistically significant declines in the social involvement that Kiesler refers to. Decreases in social involvement were indicated by a drop-off in communication within a participant's families, the size of a person's social networks and reports by participants of increases in loneliness and depression, psychological states associated with reduced social involvement. In all, the study uses data on 169 people in 73 families. A little over half the subjects are female users, a quarter of them belong to minorities. The subject pool also represents a fairly wide income range. Of the different demographic groups, teenagers seem the most vulnerable to potential negative effects. What's more, teenagers used the Internet for more hours than did adults. Mukhopadhyay offers the following advice to parents: "The basic objective is to maintain open communication and to stay vigilant. As far as the computer and Internet go, you can put the machine in a public place—in the living room or kitchen rather than the basement or the kid's room. This will automatically ensure that your teen does not use the Internet too much." Carnegie Mellon's scientists believe the findings will spark a debate, not only for Internet users and researchers, but also for government agencies looking at growth of the Internet and for companies that write Internet software. Scherlis notes, "We are not branding the Internet as either socially good or bad. The Internet is a complex and multi-faceted social phenomenon and it is evolving rapidly. It was created more than 20 years ago for sharing technical information among scientists. It's really only recently that the Internet has become a public resource, and the average citizen who uses the 'Net has largely inherited this set of services. Our results show that there may be real benefits from greater research and development to the broad area of user level communication and information services. Both industry and government can foster this growth through research into new services, experimentation, evaluation and standards development." The research was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Markle Foundation, and a consortium of computer companies (Apple Computer, Hewlett Packard, Panasonic), software companies (Lotus Development Corporation, Interval Research), and communications companies (AT&T Research, US Postal Service, Bell Atlantic, Bellcore, US West Advanced Technologies, NTT, CNET) and others (NPD). Markle Foundation works to improve health and national security through the use of information and technology. Markle collaborates with innovators and thought leaders from the public and private sectors whose expertise lies in the areas of information technology, privacy, civil liberties, health, and national security. Learn more about Markle at www.markle.org.