Projects within our Institution

Hotspot Access in Texas Rural Libraries

Sharon Strover was awarded Spring of 2018, $47,500 for her proposal to the Tocker Foundation. The objectives of this grant are to select between 4-6 rural libraries in Texas to investigate how library-based hotspot programs might be useful in rural Texas Library programs. In both urban and rural locations libraries serve as critical access points for communities in the 21st century. Library programs that “lend out the Internet” serve to bridge the digital divide and have been successfully implemented in many locations through cellular-based mobile hotspot devices. The majority of these programs currently exist in urban-based libraries and target populations lacking home-based broadband access.  Mobile technology presents many unique opportunities for the same access in rural communities also suffering from a lack of available home-based broadband due both to affordability issues as well as simple absence of local facilities. Following on the successful IMLS grant, the team developed a "best practices" guide for rural hotspot lending which is just in time for this latest research project.

Evaluation of the New York Public Library Hotspot Lending Program

The Robin Hood Foundation engaged TIPI in 2015 to evaluate a program in which mobile hotspot devices and library-funded broadband provides access to 10,000 families in New York City. The goal of the overall assessment is to examine why people have home-based wireless broadband, uses of their connectivity and how this leads to changes in people’s learning patterns, health and educational information seeking and ability to access other social services. Awarded grants funds totaled $202,202 with the project continuing until end February 2018. NYPL spearheads the project on behalf of the city’s other two major library systems, the Queens Borough Public Library, and Brooklyn Public Library (BPL).

In addition, NYPL will be working with the State Library systems of Kansas and Maine to study how this lending concept could be adapted throughout the U.S. See below for more details on our project involving Kansas and Maine libraries.

At the Edges of the National Digital Platform: Rural Library Hotspot Lending Programs

In partnership with researchers at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, TIPI received $496,000 in 2016 for this 20-month project from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). In this project, we examine how 24 rural libraries in Kansas and Maine address the challenges of Internet connectivity (as well as their role in the digital environment) with new hotspot lending programs.  For up-to-date news, click here 

Digital Inclusion Strategy 

Joseph Straubhaar and Sharon Strover secured a new grant of $50,000 from the Digital Inclusion division at the City of Austin. This 12-month city wide residential technology survey, beginning in 2017 will be deployed to better understand who has internet technology, how it is used and what is understood about the technology. The focus will be on accessing health services as well as studying the 'homework gap', a phenomenon that has increased as parts of the city become gentrified and lower-income residents are pushed further from the the central infrastructure and thus, away from digital services. The end result is policy recommendations for improving the city's digital infrastructure. 

UT Austin|Portugal Digital Media Program

This 10-year research program, established in 2007 and ending in 2018 has been funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) for 4,5 million dollars and has had as its primary goal, to build capacity in Portugal for emerging digital media industries. We engage in collaborative research projects, education programs on the doctoral and master’s levels and build capacity through our numerous institutes and festivals.

Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI) Research Collaboration grant

This 2-year grant from 2016, was awarded to TIPI from the EU’s structural funds granted to M-ITI in the amount of $56,400 and has as its goal to promote Madeira as a place where research and cutting-edge exploration can occur in digital media project in a variety of fields ranging from journalism to health and tourism.

International Collaboration Seed Money

UT’s International Office gifted TIPI with $25,000 last year to be used to further our collaborative research efforts with Portugal. We have used these funds to start to plan out the next few years of the changing UT Austin |Digital Media program.

2014 Austin Digital Inclusion Survey
A team of researchers under the supervision of professors Sharon Strover, Joseph Straubhaar, and Wenhong Chen are collaborating with the City of Austin to perform a survey that assesses digital inclusion among different neighborhoods. In mid-June, 15,000 surveys were sent out to households across Austin. By sampling a variety of areas, this survey gathers essential information about local geographic differences in access to digital and mobile technology, Internet usage practices, and attitudes regarding digital technology and development, and also collects important demographic data.

Digital Inclusion in Texas Conference
The UT LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Telecommunications and Information Policy Institute, in coordination with, Technology for All, the City of Austin, and Connected Texas, held a conference on digital inclusion on April 26 and 27, 2013.

Texas Connects Coalition
Though Internet access is widely believed to be increasingly critical to participatory democracy and economic benefits, the topographies of computer literacy and computer infrastructure are highly uneven. A variety of initiatives over the past 15-20 years have sought to address this “digital divide,” and to promote what has come to be known as digital inclusion. The resulting outcomes from these efforts have been interpreted as reflecting both success and failure. Read More

Connected Viewing
Sharon Strover received a grant from UC-Santa Barbara to collaborate with a team of scholars from around the world on Connected Viewing. Funded by Warner Digital Distribution and led by Jennifer Holt and Michael Curtin at UC-Santa Barbara, the broader project examines a variety of ways to think about how people are using new platforms, technologies and devices in the contemporary media environment. Projects in the collaboration have generated economic models, audience models, and implications for games, collecting, and for media industries in other countries such as the UK, Portugal, Sweden and China. Strover’s research compares audience behaviors in Portugal and the U.S., and focuses specifically on the use of mobile technologies and social media as they influence how one engages entertainment. Several UT graduate students collaborated in this research.

Broadband and Telemedicine
Professor Strover was recently invited to join a roundtable panel sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation in order to evaluate broadband’s contributions. Meeting in Chicago for two days, the panel included scholars from throughout the United States. Participants focused on research design and measurement strategies to assess the technology’s broader influence on various economic, social and political aspects of American society. Strover focused particularly on health and telemedicine research associated with broadband. The work of the panel will culminate in a book.

Social Media in Student Life Project
Funded by internal grants at UT, the project surveyed 94% of the 630 undergraduate students enrolled in two RTF305 online and offline courses in Fall 2011 and conducted 47 in-depth interviews by Feb 2012. It focused on how digital and traditional media use affected civic engagement, political participation, and psychological wellbeing of college students.

The Austin Internet and Global Citizens Project
Wenhong Chen, in collaboration with Joe Straubhaar and the Office of Telecommunications, City of Austin, completed a random sample survey of 1701 Austin residents in 2011, exploring the relationship between Internet use, social networks, and global media flow.

The Networked Workers Survey
This research examined how the Internet and mobile phones affected the ways in which people worked and networked in the American workplace and how the positive and negative ICT impacts were distributed along various dimensions of social inequalities such as class, race, and gender. The project was funded by the Pew Internet and American Life Project in 2008.

The Social Capital in Three Societies Project
Led by Nan Lin, Yang-Chih Fu, and Chih-Jou Chen from 2004 to 2008, this project was a large comparative panel study of social capital and social networks in the US, China, and Taiwan. The data was used to examine the relationship of Internet use, social networks, and social capital as well as the sociopsychological effects of unsolicited job information

The Immigrant Transnational Entrepreneurship (TIE) Project
In collaboration with Barry Wellman, Wenhong Chen conducted the TIE Project from 2003 to 2007, which used mixed methods to examine how Chinese entrepreneurs relied on glocalized networks and the Internet to engage in transnational entrepreneurship. The project was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, and Bell Canada.