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The origins and development of the Oxford Internet Institute

The Oxford Internet Institute was founded as a full department of the University of Oxford in 2001. The idea for an Oxford research centre focusing on the societal opportunities and challenges posed by rapidly-developing Internet technologies was first posed by Dr Andrew Graham, then Master-Elect of Balliol College, and Derek Wyatt, then MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey, supported by then Oxford University Vice Chancellor, Colin Lucas.

Financial support for the department’s establishment was provided by Dame Stephanie Shirley, founder of the computer software company Xansa, with some match funding provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Since 2006, the department has offered graduate degrees, marking its transition to a research-led teaching department. Following the success of the DPhil in Information, Communication and the Social Sciences, the department taught its first Masters, the MSc in Social Science of the Internet, in 2009. This programme recently celebrated it’s ten-year anniversary. More recently MSc and DPhil programmes in Social Data Science have been launched, widening OII’s intellectual appeal to students.

The OII continues to be based at 1, St Giles, the original property provided by Balliol College, but has since expanded to occupy two other sites at 34 and 41, St Giles.

detailed personal account of the OII’s establishment has been written by OII’s co-founder, first Acting Director and Senior Fellow, Andrew Graham.

Timeline

OII is founded with the support of Dame Stephanie Shirley. Dr Andrew Graham is appointed as Acting Director.
2001
OII is founded with the support of Dame Stephanie Shirley. Dr Andrew Graham is appointed as Acting Director.
Wikipedia is launched
Wikipedia is launched
There are 500 million internet users around the world
There are 500 million internet users around the world
Professor William Dutton appointed Director.
2002
Professor William Dutton appointed Director.
Skype is launched
2003
Skype is launched
OII Summer Doctoral Programme begins
OII Summer Doctoral Programme begins
Facebook launched
2004
Facebook launched
YouTube is launched
2005
YouTube is launched
Twitter is launched
Twitter is launched
Apple’s iPhone is launched
2007
Apple’s iPhone is launched
Pinterest and Instagram are launched
2009
Pinterest and Instagram are launched
Professor Helen Margetts is appointed Director
2011
Professor Helen Margetts is appointed Director
Twitter and Facebook play a pivotal role in the Arab Spring
Twitter and Facebook play a pivotal role in the Arab Spring
Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant launched
2014
Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant launched
First identification of large-scale junk news operations and foreign interference in elections
2016
First identification of large-scale junk news operations and foreign interference in elections
Professor Philip Howard appointed Director
2018
Professor Philip Howard appointed Director
Cambridge Analytica scandal emerges
Cambridge Analytica scandal emerges
COVID-19 pandemic heralds the rapid normalisation of virtual meetings
2020
COVID-19 pandemic heralds the rapid normalisation of virtual meetings
Number of internet users passes 5 billion
2021
Number of internet users passes 5 billion
Professor Victoria Nash is appointed Director
Professor Victoria Nash is appointed Director
The OII celebrates its 20th Anniversary
The OII celebrates its 20th Anniversary