i3net was formally launched on 4 September 1996. The network is funded by the EU's ESPRIT Programme (Project 22585). In early 1997, a series of research projects have been selected with the aim of carrying out long-term research on Intelligent Information Interfaces (i3). i3net and i3 projects have a common long-term technological goal which is to advance the development of novel human-centred interfaces for interacting with information, aimed at the broad population. i3net and i3 projects have different roles, however. Whereas each of the i3 projects will have its own research agenda to pursue in collaboration with other i3 projects, i3net will provide a supporting infrastructure and basic services, and offer mechanisms for communication, collaboration, integration and joint co-ordination of the work to be done by i3 projects.
The initial strategy of i3net has been laid down in the i3net Network Programme which specifies the infrastructure, services and mechanisms for communication, collaboration, integration and joint co-ordination that are envisioned at the present time. The Network Programme is a dynamic entity which will be updated in 1997 when the i3 projects have been selected and launched.
At this point, i3net's planned tasks and sub-tasks are the following:1. Network building and maintenance
1.1 Building and running the Network
1.2 Central and Eastern Europe
2. Information dissemination and collection
2.1 i3 Call preparation
2.2 Information dissemination
2.3 Information collection
3. Support for collaborative research
3.1 Annual conference
3.4 Project milestones
3.5 Results packaging
4. Technology transformation
4.1 Paradigm and concept promotion
4.2 Industrial input
5.1 Training needs
5.2 Educator workshops
5.3 Summer schools
6. Non-profit organisation
In 1996, efforts have been focused on Tasks 1.1: building the network, 2.1: i3 Call preparation, and that part of 2.2: information dissemination which is to do with distributing information on the Call for i3 projects. In early 1997, attention was turned towards the tasks of defining and implementing an i3net communications strategy, collecting information on who is doing what in i3 in Europe and preparing for the growth of i3net through welcoming i3 project participants as members. When this has been done i3net will start inviting new members expectedly in August 1997. See Task Groups.