Plenary Sessions

Opening Plenary
Clifford Lynch, CNI

Closing Plenary
Eszter Hargittai, NWU


Monday — 1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.


Clifford Lynch
Executive Director, Coalition for Networked Information

CNI 2013-14 Program Plan


Tuesday — 2:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Digital Natives or Digital Naives? The Role of Skill in Internet Use

Eszter Hargittai

Eszter Hargittai

Delaney Family Professor
Communication Studies Department

Faculty Associate
Institute for Policy Research

Northwestern University

The growing diffusion of information technologies influences people’s life chances and raises questions as to their ability to appropriate digital media for their empowerment.  Does the spread of information technologies affect different population segments differently?  If so, which segments are most likely to benefit and which are most likely to be left behind?  Based on original data, the talk considers disparities in people’s Web use skills and how skills relate to what people do online.  Those who know how to navigate the Web’s vast landscape can reap significant benefits from it. In contrast, those who lack online abilities may have a harder time dealing with certain logistics of everyday life, may miss out on opportunities and may also obtain incorrect information from unreliable sources or come to rely on unsubstantiated rumors. Analyses suggest that skills are not randomly distributed among users, rather, they depend on demographic and socioeconomic factors as well as user context even when controlling for access differences.

About the speaker:

Eszter Hargittai is Delaney Family Professor in the Communication Studies Department and Faculty Associate of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University where she heads the Web Use Project. She is also Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society where she spent the 2008-09 academic year in residence. Hargittai’s research focuses on the social and policy implications of digital media with a particular interest in how differences in people’s Web-use skills influence what they do online. Her work has received awards from the American Sociological Association, the Eastern Sociological Society, the International Communication Association, the National Communication Association and the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference. In 2010, the International Communication Association selected her to receive its Outstanding Young Scholar Award. In addition to her academic articles, her work has also been featured in numerous popular media outlets including The New York Times, the BBC, USA Today, The Washington Post, and many others. Her work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Sloan Foundation, among others. Hargittai is editor of Research Confidential: Solutions to Problems Most Social Scientists Pretend They Never Have (University of Michigan Press 2009), which presents a rare behind-the-scenes look at doing empirical social science research. She writes an academic career advice column at Inside Higher Ed called Ph.Do. More information is available at and

Last updated:  Thursday, August 13th, 2015