This report provides an overview of how the internet may play a role in promoting the social good, focusing on the areas of the public understandings of history and of climate change.
It starts by outlining the background of how the internet, and platforms in particular, have recently come to be regarded as having negative impacts. Next, it outlines some previous work on how user-driven groups have made efforts to promote reliable knowledge and foster trusted communities and how digital media companies have supported these efforts (or not). The report then discusses Wikipedia as a key example of the successes and limitations in providing the public with useful – and again, reliable – information, also for history and climate change. Against this background, we can turn to the particular issues of how history and climate change are communicated online, how they are subject to contention, and how more productive understandings can be arrived at. The report concludes by examining the more general conditions for the production and visibility and reach of reliable knowledge at a time when trust in many institutions is declining and there is at the same a growing reliance on online sources. It also sketches a research agenda for tackling these topics.