Since 2012, I’ve been working on my PhD dissertation research into Canadian internet policy at the University of Alberta’s Department of Sociology. This month I successfully defended the dissertation, which addresses the theme of this blog — intermediation. This includes an analysis of the political economy of Canadian telecom, competition regulation, public connectivity, privacy, security and lawful access, copyright, net neutrality, and alternative or public approaches to connectivity. The thesis will be posted in June to the university’s depository, but contact me in the meantime if you would like a copy.
An enormous thanks to all those who have helped me get to this point by sharing what you know about these topics. Many people have told me things that do not appear in the final thesis, but rest assured every interaction I’ve had over the years has helped to inform my understanding to get to this point. It’s been really great hearing from internet pioneers, Canadian telecom professionals, public servants, policy experts, and all those who help make this connected world what it is.
So what’s next? I plan to continue pursuing all the topics that have animated this research. We’re still talking through many of the same telecom and internet policy debates as when I started, and ISPs are still crucial gatekeepers and mediators of connectivity. The blog will keep its focus, though there may be some changes in frequency as I move on to new professional responsibilities at UBC. However, I imagine in the future I will be thinking more about Silicon Valley companies and the business model we might call platform capitalism, so the nature of the intermediaries I focus on may change. I will also be keenly looking for approaches to connectivity that are more locally-oriented, and alternatives to the giant firms that currently dominate connectivity and our online experiences.