This prologue to a impending study has its virtues: it emphasizes what we still have to learn, it presages important research, and it collates the knowledge and speculation we already have at hand on contemporary digital ethics. But it tells us little we don't already know. It mainly lays out the hypotheses Carrie James and her research team intend to investigate in the near future.
James, et al., turn the bulk of their attention to new digital media's ethical implications for "identity, privacy, ownership and authorship, credibility, and participation"--a list they repeat with mantra-like regularity. I applaud this as a focus of research, because these concerns have remained controversial since Tim Berners-Lee wrote HTML code twenty years ago. James and her team elucidate well both the promises and perils of these issues, but mainly focus on information and speculation that I have seen treated at great length elsewhere. This white paper primarily offers unaccustomed depth to this length.
Perhaps it reflects my prejudices, but I would prefer to see this eye for detail applied to work the researchers have already done, not what they purpose to do. Since they admit the research will require three years before they can offer meaningful conclusions, it seems premature to announce what they hope to find. I appreciate their attempt to lay out the parameters of what we still stand to learn, and perhaps this will prompt even more research and greater diversity of opinion. But in the final summation, this feels like the early chapters of a book that hasn't been written yet.