For Techdirt’s Tech Policy Greenhouse, I wrote a longer, more conceptual piece about the disconnect between what communication technology platforms can do and what we’re asking them to do, and a longer argument about humanity and our nature woven throughout.
Multistakeholder Internet governance institutions are not being properly studied. Research focuses primarily on structure, which has its own set of concerns and limitations, but it overlooks the human element, which may play a vital role in shaping these institutions. The human element, which encompasses the human actors and their networks, is potentially important because of both the way the institutions themselves function internally to promote and highlight individuals, and the effect these institutions have on the participants. While this may sound interesting, a straightforward question emerges as to why this has not yet been studied. Two explanations of why this has not been the case so far cover both the substantive environment and its inherent complexities, and the theoretical biases inherent in the most prevalent lens used to study these institutions, borrowed from a related but entirely different area of research, democratic decision-making. Based on these points, before value is added to this role, it is paramount to try and uncover whether the human element has any substantial impact in the shaping and ongoing functioning of multistakeholder institutions on par with structure, and my upcoming dissertation tackles this issue.