New University center will study Internet issues

by Amber Foley

The Internet has quickly become an easy, accessible communication link for Americans, but along with its benefits have come issues that a University professor says must be explored.
So Laura Gurak, an associate professor of rhetoric, is setting up the Center for Internet Studies to provide access to information about Internet-related issues.
“We can’t ignore the Internet,” Gurak said. “It has a place in our lives; we think of it kind of like a kitchen appliance.”
Gurak came up with the idea last spring while teaching a graduate seminar.
“I realized that we were all talking about the same things and that there was no one place where we could bring our research together or share our ideas,” she said.
Developing the center is still in its earliest stages, Gurak said.
The first step will be to develop a Web site and then to create a physical site, she said.
Gurak said center researchers will explore the relationship between the Internet and American culture.
The Internet, she said, is radical technology.
“It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” she said.
The center will explore other issues, such as Web privacy, e-mail interactions, Web site credibility and Internet conflict resolution.
Gurak said the center’s Web site will provide links to electronic journals, research projects, published papers, sites studying the Internet and graduate projects.
She said the center will be a resource for the whole state and the nation, not just the University.
“It will be a place of national prominence,” she said.
Gurak said several similar centers are already available around the country, but the University’s center would be different.
The Center for Internet Studies will work with a broad spectrum of people and departments from the University. Another difference, she said, is the close relationship the center will have with the business world.
University approval is still necessary, however. Gurak said the center should be up and running by the end of spring semester.

Amber Foley covers science and technology and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3213.