Network of Excellence in Internet Science

The Network of Excellence in Internet Science

About the Network

The Network of Excellence in Internet Science aims to strengthen scientific and technological excellence by developing an integrated and interdisciplinary scientific understanding of Internet networks and their co-evolution with society, and also by addressing the fragmentation of European research in this area. Its main objective is to enable an open and productive dialogue between all disciplines which study Internet systems from any technological or humanistic perspective, and which in turn are being transformed by continuous advances in Internet functionality. The network brings together over thirty research institutions across Europe that are focusing on network engineering, computation, complexity, networking, security, mathematics, physics, sociology, game theory, economics, political sciences, humanities, and law, as well as other relevant social and life sciences. The network's main deliverable will be a durable shaping and structuring of the way that this research is carried out, by gathering together a critical mass of resources, gathering the expertise needed to provide European leadership in this area, and by spreading excellence beyond the partnership. The network is funded under the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme: Information and Communication Technologies.  


Goals of the Network

1. Coordinate the investigation, from a multi-disciplinary perspective, of specific important Internet-related topics at the intersection between humanistic sciences (social life, economy, law and regulation), technological sciences and environmental concerns (including energy), such as privacy and identity, reputation, virtual communities, security and resilience, network neutrality.

2. Lay the scientific and methodological foundations for the development of an Internet Science, based i.a. on Network Science and Web Science, aiming at understanding the co-evolution of Internet and Societies and in particular the impact of the "network effect" on human societies and organisations, as for technological, economic, social and environmental aspects.

3. Provide concrete incentives for academic institutions and individual researchers to conduct studies across multiple disciplines, in the form of online journals, conferences, workshops, PhD courses, schools, contests, researchers' excahnges, and open calls for innovative activities in this direction.

The "Internet Science" Challenge

The various disciplines which contribute to "Internet Science" inevitably talk different languages and use different design and analysis tools. To establish an effective and productive dialogue between these different disciplines, the network will identify incentives to create collaboration opportunities. The key elements of Internet Science are:

Multidisciplinary Convergence. As a platform, the Internet can enable integration of the various sciences that have made the greatest sustained contribution to human progress; however, their differing perspectives can also lead to missed opportunities and unanticipated consequences.

Observability. The Internet generates unprecedented amounts of data on all sorts of human behaviour, and at the same time makes possible their integration with analytic and computational facilities.

Constructive Experimentation. The global reach, discretionary connectivity and openness of the Internet, combined with the potential for generating 'subnets' and human-machine complexes, provides an ideal test bed for technological, socioeconomic and cybernetic experiments to complement the natural experiments provided by the observability and diversity of the Internet.

Integrating Theory and Methodology

A key outcome of the Network of Excellence in Internet Science will be:

• A set of scientific methodologies, deeply rooted in methods for understanding complex systems arising in biology, physics, economics and (other) social sciences;

• A set of emergence theories and system design methodologies that draw on work in various communities such as computer science, media design, political science and economics, and that recognises their implications for how designed artefacts are used.

• A set of empirical and experimentation methodologies that provide evidence, which can be used to test hypotheses, feed back into design and quantify or calibrate factors that range from individual end users' regulatory and legislative concerns to technological uncertainties and choices.