Not by Technical Means Alone: The Multidisciplinary Challenge of Studying Information Controls
Crete-Nishihata, Masashi, Deibert, Ronald J. and Senft, Adam,"Not by Technical Means Alone: The Multidisciplinary Challenge of Studying Information Controls," IEEE Internet Computing, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 34-41, May-June 2013
14 Pages Posted: 16 May 2013 Last revised: 21 May 2013
Date Written: May 1, 2013
The study of information controls is a multidisciplinary challenge. Technical measurements are essential to such a study, but they do not provide insight into why regimes enact controls or what those controls’ social and political effects might be. Investigating these questions requires that researchers pay attention to ideas, values, and power relations. Interpreting technical data using contextual knowledge and social science methods can lead to greater insights into information controls than either technical or social science approaches alone. The OpenNet Initiative has been developing a mixed-methods approach to the study of information controls since 2003. This article presents our approach through a series of case studies and concludes with a discussion of methodological challenges and recommendations for the field moving forward.
Keywords: Internet filtering, Censorship, Multidisciplinary
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By Ian Brown