The Benton Foundation named Dr. Colin Rhinesmith the new Benton Faculty Research Fellow. In this role, Dr Rhinesmith will conduct original Benton research as well as advise the foundation on new research opportunities. In his first project for Benton, Dr Rhinesmith is conducting a study of low-cost Internet and digital literacy training programs in low-income communities across the U.S. The goal of the study is to provide data and outcomes-based measures that can be useful to policymakers, Internet service providers, and other digital inclusion stakeholders, particularly as the Federal Communications Commission and Congress seek to reform the Universal Service Fund.
"At a time when federal regulators are considering addressing the digital divide by refocusing the FCC’s Lifeline program," said Benton Foundation Executive Director Adrianne B. Furniss, "Benton is investing in research to support data-driven policy decisions rather than divisive ‘Obamaphone’-type rhetoric. We need the best thinking to reach and connect those who have yet to embrace the Internet."
Dr. Rhinesmith is also working with Benton Fellow Raphael Leung to compile research resources on the impact effects of broadband availability on vulnerable communities. A fall 2015 report will look at the need for robust broadband among low-income communities and address what the minimum services standards should be for low-income telecommunications programs.
"I am honored to be affiliated with the Benton Foundation as a Faculty Research Fellow," said Dr. Rhinesmith. "For the past 13 years, I have followed the Foundation’s tireless efforts to create more equitable access to information and communication in the digital age. I look forward to working with the Benton Foundation as a researcher to help inform how policymakers and practitioners design, implement, and evaluate digital inclusion and broadband adoption strategies."
Dr. Rhinesmith is an Assistant Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Rhinesmith’s research investigates digital inclusion and broadband adoption. Recent research looks at how community anchor institutions, such as public libraries and community technology centers, promote digital inclusion through public access computing, home broadband access, and digital literacy training. Rhinesmith’s work has been published in the following journals and peer-reviewed conference proceedings: Government Information Quarterly; International Journal of Communication; Journal of Education for Library and Information Science; Community Informatics Research Network Conference Proceedings; and the Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology.
Rhinesmith received his Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was an Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS)-funded Information in Society Fellow. He received his B.A. and M.A. in Media Studies from Emerson College in Boston, MA. Previously, Rhinesmith was a Google Policy Fellow and an Adjunct Research Fellow with the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C.
The Benton Foundation is a private operating foundation that works to ensure that media and telecommunications serve the public interest and enhance our democracy. We pursue this mission by: 1) seeking policy solutions that support the values of access, diversity and equity; 2) demonstrating the value of media and telecommunications for improving the quality of life for all; and 3) providing information resources to policymakers and advocates to inform communications policy debates.