Technology and Information Policy Institute

  • 2504 Whitis Ave., CMA 5.102, Austin, TX 78712
  • 512-471-5826



Arlington, VA
September 30 – October 1, 2016

The 44th Research Conference on Communications, Information, and Internet Policy
Overview: TPRC is an annual conference on information policy that convenes researchers and policymakers from academia, industry, government and nonprofit organizations. TPRC strives to inspire top quality information, communications, and technology policy research, and to connect researchers, policymakers, lawyers, and practitioners. TPRC is the longest-running conference of its kind, and has a legacy of showcasing cutting-edge research across multiple disciplines and international perspectives.
Participate!  TPRC has many ways to be involved.  The main way is to submit an abstract of new research you’re working on or have recently completed.  The scope is broad: a topic can be empirical, analytical, legal, historical, institutional, or theoretical.  We use a double-blind review process, and if your paper is accepted you will be asked to submit your completed paper just prior to the conference, and to present your work at the conference.  You can do this as part of a typical paper session, or in the poster session.
In addition to the paper sessions, TPRC has a vibrant and engaging poster session.  At TPRC44, every abstract that is not accepted for a paper session will be considered for presentation as a poster (unless the author indicates a preference to opt out of such consideration). If you would prefer only to present at the poster session, you can submit an abstract for consideration for that session.  
There are a variety of other participation options. TPRC44 is interested in your expertise as a moderator for a session, as a participant in our Birds of a Feather tables, as a mentor for our graduate student consortium, and as a discussion panel member.  If you are a student, we have a special student call for papers and a Graduate Student Consortium to which you can apply.  You will find specific details of each of these options in the full Call for Papers (see applicable links). Our goal is to provide multiple opportunities for active and engaging conference participants to interact, take part, and share their knowledge.  We welcome academics, policy-makers, lawyers, students, and industry experts alike.
Dates and Location:  The 2016 conference will be held from the morning of Friday, September 30 through Saturday, October 1, 2016, at the George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Virginia.  A Capitol Hill event and the Graduate Student Consortium will take place a day before the conference on Thursday, September 29. Details for these events are found by following the applicable links.  Our long-standing attendees should take note of the change in format from prior years: TPRC will be held all day Friday, September 30 and all day Saturday, October 1. There will be no Sunday sessions.
Quick Facts: The submission period opens on March 1, 2016 at http://www.tprc.org .  Deadlines for completed submissions are as follows:

  • Abstracts for paper sessions and posters, and proposals for panels: March 31, 2016
  • Applications to the Graduate Student Consortium: March 31, 2016
  • Student paper submissions: April 30, 2016

TPRC is a great place to meet new people, and to reconnect with experts in the field of Internet policy, communications, and information. We are a diverse and energetic community of scholars, and we welcome your participation!

For the full CFP, visit our web site, www.tprc.org, or download here.

Email your announcements before the 20th of the month.  All requests will be handled on a first come, first serve basis.

William Dutton on the Future of Internet Policy and Governance

Dr. William H.Dutton, The Quello Professor of Media and Information Policy at the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at Michigan State University, visited Austin and through the TIPI speaker series, presented "Putting Policy in its Place: The Rise of Internet Policy and Governance" February 11, 2016 . He argued that the Internet, the super-highway to information, is continuously supporting social and economic development and mentnioned the importance of Internet policy.  

Like some pivotal events in the Internet including Wikileaks, right to be forgotten, copyright, social media and Internet of Things, Internet regulation became prominent throughout the global in general. In terms of net neutrality, he mentioned that while the net neutrality in European Countries are initiating two-tiered service (fast and slow lane), the U.S. is treating all interactions on the web equal, based on strong net neutrlaity rules (no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization, no unreasonable interference and transparency), rejecting the idea of the fast lane. Also, he mentioned that net neutrality is a politically complex issue among several stakeholders, including cable companies, Internet Service Providers, Content providers, Court and even Republican and Democratic politicians. Supporting Net neutrality was a grassroot movement, alike about 400 million public comments on FCC to save net neutrality. From academic perspective, he suggested two-fold possibilities: (1) While policy issues are arising, (2) but the policy research is still marginzalized. Thus, he emphasized that not only Economics, Law and Engineering, but Communications can contribute to interdisciplinary policy studies. He concluded that scholars from diverse fields can move Internet policy studies into the centerpoint.

UT Austin Portugal Open Institute Planned for August

The UT Austin-Portugal Digital Media Open Institute took place in Austin from August 2-7, 2015. The program explored the range and meaning of “open” in contemporary culture, examining some of the dynamics of a variety of projects developing open hardware, open software, open data usable for governmental purposes, and open access. This intensive residential program brought together 13 doctoral students from U. Porto and UNL, UT graduate students, and local and international experts to explore different aspects of this emerging field. More information, including the list of speakers and draft agenda, is available on the Open Institute's webpage.

TIPI Goes to ICA in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Professors Sharon Strover, Wenhong Chen, Joe Straubhaar, and doctoral student Alexis Schrubbe participated in several workshops and paper panels at the International Communication Association's annual conference, held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on May 21-25. TIPI director Strover took part in a workshop on The Future of Communication Graduate Study, and presented a paper co-authored by Schrubbe and TIPI researcher Karen Gustafson, on the framing of the network neutrality comment process in the mainstream and online media. Strover also chaired a panel on Policy Approaches to Access and Use of Information. Chen presented a paper co-authored with two TIPI graduate students, Xiaoqian Li and Pawel Popiel, titled "What Happens on Facebook Stays on Facebook! The Implications of Facebook Interaction for Perceived, Receiving, and Giving Social Support." In addition, she gave a B.E.S.T. (Brief Entertaining Scholarly Talks) created with Bryan Stephens and John Sibley Butler of UT Austin, and presented a research paper "A Multimodal View of Voluntary Group Participation and Community Involvement," co-authored with Chih-Hui Lai of Nanyang Technological University. Straubhaar, a co-director of TIPI, presented several single and co-authored papers on topics including the increasing influence of media produced by BRICS countries; television, culture, and soft power; second screen media use among youth in the US and Brazil; social class and television viewing in Brazil and Mexico; and the role of media during the June 2013 protests in Brazil; in addition to chairing three panels.

Graduate Students Lee, Redlick, and Lu Win CTS Paper Competition

Three graduate students were recognized for their submissions to the Communication, Technology, and Society paper competition, sponsored by TIPI. First prizewinner Seungae Lee authored "Online Persuasion - Influence of User-Generated Comments," Madeleine Redlick, in second place, wrote "To Walk on Snow and Leave No Footprints: An Investigation of Social Identity and Pro-Anorexia Online Communities," and Shuning Lu, in third place, submitted a paper titled "Hailing Lucky Money on WeChat." The winners will be invited to present their research at a mini-conference in September.

New Strategies Recommended for Rural Broadband

Broadband policy researchers Sharon Strover, Brian Whitacre, and Robert Gallardo have made new recommendations for digital inclusion strategies in rural areas. Their study, which was published in Government Information Quarterly in April 2015, found that while buildouts of new infrastructure are important, more emphasis must be put on encouraging users to access existing connections. They also report that although broadband adoption has increased dramatically since 2003, the gap between metropolitan and non-metropolitan access remained the same between 2003 and 2011.


Older News Stories

Digital Inclusion Report Released

The final report of the Austin Digital Inclusion 2014 study has been released. The analysis uses data from 1908 survey responses gathered from residents throughout Austin last summer and looks at how reported Internet access and usage varies by income, education, gender, and other major demographic factors, as well as by neighborhood. The project was led by professors Sharon Strover, Joe Straubhaar and Wenhong Chen, working with a team of graduate students and researchers, and was conducted with the support of the City of Austin. This new report builds on the initial findings released last November, with additional analysis in key areas including Austin's minority populations.

Professor Randy Lewis Speaks at Brown Bag Lunch

Dr. Randy Lewis spoke on "Going Public: Transcending the Ivory Tower and Making Your Research Matter" at a lunch talk on April 17. At a time when higher education is under assault for being elitist, impractical, and solipsistic, reaching new publics with our research has become more important than ever. In describing the pleasures and pains of publicly engaged scholarship, Professor Lewis (American Studies, UT-Austin) talked about his long quest to find relevance and utility beyond the Ivory Tower as a writer, editor, journalist, artist, and filmmaker---and why learning the art of public engagement is relevant to every scholar for reasons both altruistic and instrumental. The event was sponsored by TIPI and organized by the Communication, Technology, and Society student research group. About 20 faculty members and students participated.

Dr. Greg Lowe Speaks on European Broadcast Policy

Dr. Greg Lowe, Professor of Media Management at the University of Tampere, gave a talk on Trends in Broadcast Policy in Europe on March 31. Lowe, an alumnus of the RTF PhD program, is President of the European Media Management Association. His research areas include comparative media systems, the creation of public service media, brand stewardship, and developing media business models in the digital context.

Papers Publish Strover's Op-Ed on Net Neutrality

Sharon Strover's editorial on the FCC's recent network neutrality decision appeared in Texas newspapers on February 28. In it, she explains the significance of net neutrality for Texas residents and historically contextualizes common carrier policies, which have existed in various forms for hundreds of years. As the Internet becomes an increasingly essential means of communication, Internet content must be treated equally. Her article also describes related issues especially relevant to Texans, including municipal broadband and the need to increase consumers' choice of Internet service providers. The full text is available here.

New Agendas Conference Takes Place February 26-28

UT's Moody College of Communication produced a conference on immersive media, planned by Sharon Strover and including members of TIPI and the UT Austin Portugal Digital Media Program. The conference was part of the College's New Agendas series, which invites emerging scholars of note to present research, focusing on different themes each year. This year's event included presentations on storytelling and game narratives, creating immersive experiences of nature, social media surveillance, and more. The talks were held in the Belo Media Center's Briefing Room, BMC 5.208, and a program, including speaker and discussant biographies, is here.

UTA-Portugal Organizes e-Health Symposium in Lisbon

The UT Austin-Portugal Digital Media Program organized a daylong research symposium, which was held on February 6 at UNL-FCT. With the aim of strengthening the health informatics research community across partner institutions, the meeting brought together students and faculty members from UT Austin and Portuguese universities including UNL, U. Porto, and Lusófona University who are pursuing research on a variety of e-Health topics.  UT researchers included faculty members Jay Bernhardt, the Director of the Center for Health Communication; Keri Stephens of Communication Studies; Jacek Gwizdka of the School of Information; and Michael Mackert of the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations at UT, who sent graduate student Allison Lazard as the team's representative. The Symposium also featured an industry presentation from Pedro Pinto, CEO of Take the Wind. Take the Wind is the creator of Body Interact, a cutting-edge 3D medical simulator.

Faculty members and graduate students at Portuguese partner institutions were encouraged to participate and share their research in informal presentations, and were also provided with some opportunities for informal networking at the Symposium event.

TIPI Becomes Official University Research Unit

The Telecommunications and Information Policy Institute has been recognized by the UT Office of the Vice President for Research as an official University Research Unit. It will be the second URU in the Moody College of Communication, joining the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life. The title of URU is given to organizations committed to the facilitation of broad-based interdisciplinary study among faculty and students across the University and the dissemination of research results in conferences and other venues, and to the support of graduate and undergraduate education, giving students the opportunity to gain experience in formal academic research.

Sharon Strover Updates Austin Commission on Digital Assessment Study

Sharon Strover gave a presention to the Austin Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission on December 10, describing the progress of the Austin Digital Assessment study, which surveyed over 1900 Austin residents about their use of digital communication technologies. Strover, Wenhong Chen, and Joe Straubhaar were recently commended by the Austin Mayor and City Council for their research on city residents' access and needs. Working with a team of graduate students, the faculty members have spent part of the summer and fall analyzing large amounts of data, in order to make recommendations for how the city can best serve its constituencies. A video of the Austin Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission meeting, including Strover's address, is available here; the presentation is item 6.

Sports and Media Expert Andy Billings Speaks at UT

UT faculty and students are invited to attend a talk by Andy Billings of the University of Alabama, who will speak on "Olympic-Sized Impact: Issues of Identity in Media Coverage of the Olympic Games" at UT on November 13 at 3:30pm in BMC 5.208. Professor Billings is the guest of the Moody College of Communication's Sports and Media program, the Radio-TV-Film Department, and TIPI. He holds the Ronald Reagan Chair of Broadcasting at the University of Alabama, and has published extensively on sports, mass media, consumption habits, and identity.

TATOA Conference at UT Austin, November 6-7

The Texas Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors will convene for its annual conference on November 6-7 at UT Austin's Thompson Conference Center. Co-sponsored by TIPI, the conference will address issues including open government, network neutrality, strategies for expanding broadband infrastructure, and the development of a national public safety broadband network. Students may register for $25. Sharon Strover, with Sharla Chamberlain and John Speirs of the City of Austin, will present "Digital Inclusion Policy and Practice: A Case Study from the City of Austin," which will discuss how local governments can effectively promote policies of digital inclusion, based on data including information gathered this past summer in a major local survey. The full program is here.

Digital Inclusion Study Receives Large Response

This summer, professors Sharon Strover, Joseph Straubhaar, Wenhong Chen, and a team of student researchers collaborated with the City of Austin to perform a survey assessing digital inclusion among Austin residents. The in-depth survey, which was administered online and via mail, targeted neighborhoods across the city and gathered important information about geographic differences in local access to digital and mobile technology, Internet usage practices, and attitudes regarding digital technology and development. A considerable number of recipients responded, and 1908 completed surveys have been recorded. Initial weighted analysis reveals several significant trends. Overall, Austinites continue to be a highly connected population, with 92% reporting home Internet access, and users reporting an average of 20 years of experience online. Many respondents were very confident about their abilities to perform various tasks online such as uploading content or managing a personal profile. Different types of users access the Internet from different sites, with home and work as the leading places people go online. Public access sites appear particularly important to African American and disabled users. The amount of data generated by this large sample will help academic researchers and public policymakers better understand diverse populations' various priorities and needs.

Watkins Team Studies Collaborative Work Environments

Craig Watkins pursued several projects this summer, including a study of how digital media is being used to create collaborative and non-traditional work environments. Focusing on Millennial generation innovators, Watkins and his research team are creating case studies from their research performed in east Austin, a region increasingly known for its creative culture. The project will culminate in a new online platform, designed and produced by Watkins and an interdisciplinary team of UT graduate students, film makers, designers, and programmers that explores the changing world of work in a knowledge-driven economy.

Op-Ed: In FCC's 80th Year, Rising Neglect of Public Interest

Sharon Strover composed an op-ed on the 80th aniversary of the FCC, and the shifting definitions of the public interest. While this regulatory body was founded to create conditions to promote the public interest, industry concerns have frequently dominated policy debates. The full text is here.

UPDATED! Video Game Review

UT Austin-Portugal staff have prepared a document summarizing video game history, technological development, industry trends, and recent academic studies. This review is intended to provide support for scholarly projects and help digital media researchers become more familiar with the field.