CISI fosters knowledge mobilization and organizes advocacy for a public interest internet, i.e. a thriving networked ecosystem of communication technologies that puts community safety and privacy at the core of design. 

Activists have long asked, “is another world possible?” 

We ask: 


Because politics is downstream of culture, and culture is downstream of infrastructure, the technologies we build to talk to one another have a significant impact on how we define, organize, and solve problems as a society. 

Founded by Joan Donovan, PhD, the overarching goal of CISI is to document how the design of our current internet infrastructure is exploited by those looking to disrupt social institutions and derail democracy. At the same time, CISI works with practitioners to coproduce a Public Interest Internet, an infrastructure that would support the distribution of TALK (Timely Accurate Local Knowledge)

It’s no longer enough to point out what is wrong with technology and hope the message reaches key stakeholders, we must also build capacity across sectors- from journalism, civil society, academia, technology, to policymaking- so that we can develop institutional resilience and bring about the web we deserve. 

A public problem as big as misinformation-at-scale 

requires a whole-of-society solution.

We have long known that technology is policy by other means. Technology often stabilizes social relations and freezes inequalities in place until the next innovation takes hold or regulation intervenes to protect consumers. CISI fosters knowledge mobilization with the goal of turning intelligence into action by organizing advocacy to design a public interest internet, i.e. a thriving networked ecosystem of communication technologies that puts community safety and privacy at the core of design. 

Because the internet has revolutionized all of our social and political institutions, CISI takes special care to investigate powerful actors, analyze human rights abuses. CISI champions democratic values throughout the entire tech stack and works with practitioners to bring technological and moral order into alignment with the public interest. 

In order to find different strategies to combat misinformation-at-scale and make a public interest internet possible, CISI implements unique public engagement projects- coupled with exceptional research collaborations- and creative educational programs using a whole-of-society approach to combatting hate, harassment, and incitement. 

Joan Donovan, PhD


Joan Donovan, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Journalism and Emerging Media Studies at Boston University. Dr. Donovan is a sociologist of knowledge, who examines internet and technology systems, online extremism, media manipulation, and disinformation campaigns. She is the coauthor of Meme Wars: The Untold Story of the Online Battles Upending Democracy in America.

Dr. Donovan’s research explores how media manipulation is a means to control public conversation, derail democracy, and disrupt society.  She conducts research, develops methods, and facilitates workshops for journalists, policy makers, technologists, and civil society organizations on how to detect, document, and debunk media manipulation campaigns. 

Dr. Donovan's research can be found in academic peer-reviewed journals such as Social Media + Society, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Information, Communication & Society, Social Studies of Science, and Online Information Review. Her contributions can also be found in the books, Data Science Landscape: Towards Research Standards and Protocols and Unlike Us Reader: Social Media Monopolies and Their Alternatives. Dr. Donovan's research and expertise has been showcased in a wide array of media outlets including NPR, Washington Post, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, MIT Technology Review and more.

Prior to joining Boston University, Dr. Donovan was the Research Director at the Shorenstein Center on Media Politics and Public Policy, where she led a world-class lab addressing media manipulation and disinformation's impact on public health, national security, and global politics.  From 2017-2018, she was the Research Lead for Data & Society’s Media Manipulation Initiative, where she led a large team of researchers studying efforts to manipulate sociotechnical systems for political gain. 

Dr. Donovan received her Ph.D. in Sociology and Science Studies from the University of California San Diego, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics, where she studied white supremacists’ use of DNA ancestry tests, social movements, and technology. Her research won awards in 2020 from the American Sociological Association and the Society for the Social Studies of Science. 

She also co-created the beaver emoji 🦫.


Dan Shea

Managing Director

Dan Shea has 10 years experience in non-profit management as the former founder and director of Brain Arts Organization, which published the Boston Compass newspaper and Boston Hassle website supporting arts and culture throughout the city. Dan has hosted events in the Boston music and arts scene for over 25 years and continues to foster community.


ALL donations support research and public education.