The Internet of Futures Past: Values Trajectories of Networking Protocol Projects

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3 Scopus citations


The Internet was conceptualized as a technology that would be capable of bringing about a better future, but recent literature in science and technology studies and adjacent fields provides numerous examples of how this pervasive sociotechnical system has been shaped and used to dystopic ends. This article examines different future imaginaries present in Future Internet Architecture (FIA) projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 2006 to 2016, whose goal was to incorporate social values while building new protocols to replace Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol to transfer and route information across the ever-expanding Internet. I examine the findings from two of the NSF’s FIA projects—Mobility First (MF) and eXpressive Internet Architecture—to understand the projects’ trajectories and values directives through their funding cycle and their projections into the future. I discuss how project documentation and participant articulations fall into the following three distinct themes about past experience and speculation: understanding the public, negotiating resources, and carrying project values into the future. I conclude that if the future Internet is to promote positive sociotechnical relationships, its architects must recognize that complex social and political decisions pervade each step of technical work and do more to honor this fact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1021-1047
Number of pages27
JournalScience Technology and Human Values
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Human-Computer Interaction


  • Future Internet Architectures
  • Values in Design
  • critical informatics
  • future imaginaries
  • networking protocols


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