[Air-l] Re: Great Ethical disasters in Internet Research?

Steve Jones sjones at uic.edu
Sun Jul 14 14:02:52 PDT 2002

At 3:36 PM -0400 7/14/02, Bram Dov Abramson wrote:
>Generally, I think that the divide posited between academics and 
>private corporations is less germane than the one between 
>disciplines.  Marketing researchers in academia and the private 
>sector work fairly closely together, but they and their counterparts 
>in sociology and demographics, statistics, psychology, and other 
>similarly-interested disciplines don't appear -- that is, from my 
>limited vantage point -- to chat as often as might be in their 
>interests on such matters.

I agree with this as a summary statement (particularly given the 
degree to which the engineering fields are increasingly engaged with 
universities' patent and intellectually property efforts). But there 
are remarkable differences between, and within, disciplines, and 
types of universities, in the degree to which academic and private 
sectors work and/or talk together.

>I wonder whether an organisation like AOIR mightn't be well-placed 
>to help open that conversation up, given the absence of any given 
>discipline's monopoly (well, one hopes) over so-called "Internet 
>studies".  In which case, academic research's lack of isolation from 
>private-sector work might helpfully be regarded less as unfortunate, 
>than as a fortunate point from which to build a baseline set of 
>guidelines ... atop which any disciplinary or organisational 
>entities should, it goes without saying, feel quite justified in 
>wishing to layer their own sets of rules.

It's always been my hope that AoIR would have members from industry, 
government, the private sector, etc., in addition to members from 
academe. Membership is open to anyone interested in Internet 
research. If we were to be a catalyst for conversations between all 
of these I would be as pleased as I am that we are a catalyst for 
conversations among those from a variety of disciplines engaged in 
Internet research. We are, to a large extent, at the mercy of the 
membership to have such things happen, though.  I think some of the 
work of creating "a baseline set of guidelines" has been happening, 
in part institutionally as we work on things like an ethics 
statement, and in part informally at conferences and online. But the 
association, as such, does not make these things happen - members do. 
I hope that I and the other members of the executive committee are 
sufficiently approachable that those with an interest in working on 
initiatives are comfortable with contacting us to talk about those 


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