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Internet expert to visit New Zealand

New Zealand needs to start monitoring the impact of the Internet on society before it is too late, says an international media researcher who will visit New Zealand next week.

Professor Jeffrey Cole, director of the California-based World Internet Project, says New Zealand will benefit from joining the 20 nations involved in the global research network. The World Internet Project was started in the United States six years ago and Australia has recently joined up.

Professor Cole, who is also director of the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School, will be in New Zealand from May 10-19. As a Visiting Fellow of AUT University's Centre for Communication Research he will give three public lectures on the impact of the Internet on society.

He says joining the World Internet Project – which involves a longitudinal survey of Internet users and non-users to assess the effects of the technology - will put New Zealand on the world Internet map and cross-country comparisons could help predict problems.

AUT's Centre for Communication Research is an international partner in the World Internet Project and is seeking backing for its role in contributing research on Internet use in New Zealand. Centre director Professor Allan Bell says Professor Cole's visit is an exciting opportunity to hear first hand about the latest trends in Internet use and the effects on society.

Professor Cole says scholars began researching the effects of television too late, so now is the time to start looking at the impact of the Internet. "Thousands of academic studies have examined the impact of television on viewers' lives, but researchers now realise that we missed a golden opportunity by not looking at Americans before they acquired television sets.

"The greatest changes resulting from the Internet will be not the obvious ones, but the subtle and unexpected shifts that we can understand only through scientific research over a number of years."

Professor Allan Bell says AUT's Centre for Communication Research is delighted to be part of the World Internet Project which will gather invaluable information on how New Zealanders, compared with other countries, are using the Internet.

"This data will assist groups such as community organisations, educational institutions, businesses and government bodies to define how the Internet can be used for the good of New Zealanders, whether related to economic, cultural or political aspects," says Professor Bell.

Professor Cole will give three public lectures at AUT's Wellesley Campus on May 11, May 15 and May 18. The first two include findings from the WIP research, and the third is based on his experience researching violence on US television in the 1990s.

He will also visit Wellington on May 16-17.

Professor Jeffrey Cole's public lectures

Thursday, May 11, 4.30pm: Surveying the Digital Future
AUT lecture theatre WB 327, Wellesley St

Monday, May 15, 4.30pm: Just an Essential Part of Everyday Life: The Role of the Internet and Wireless Technology
AUT Conference Centre WA 224a (ground floor), Wellesley St

Thursday, May 18, 4.30pm: The Culture of Media Violence
AUT Conference Centre WA 224a Wellesley St

Details of Professor Cole's visit is on the CCR website:


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