nep-ict New Economics Papers
on Information and Communication Technologies
Issue of 2012‒07‒29
four papers chosen by
Walter Frisch
University Vienna

  1. Broadband Internet Use by Economic Actors in Rural Regions By Peter Stenberg; Mitchell Morehart
  2. Regional Development And Web 2.0- Applications By Manfred Walser
  3. Trust in Safe Public e-services. Communicating Safety in Policies and Use. By Irene Bernhard; Elin Wihlborg
  4. Leaderless Covert Networks: A Quantitative Approach By Husslage, B.G.M.; Lindelauf, R.; Hamers, H.J.M.

  1. By: Peter Stenberg; Mitchell Morehart
    Abstract: Access to the Internet through broadband technologies has become a widely available, but not uniformly over space. Spatially-dispersed economic actors have lower Internet penetration rates, either out of choice or lack of local availability. We use data from the 2009 June Agricultural Survey, 2008 ARMS, and FCC broadband provider data to analyze farms, a specific sector of spatially-dispersed economic entrepreneurs. A majority of farms had Internet access, but only 1/3 of all farms used the Internet as an intergral part of their management operations. In addition, broadband Internet use was lower for farms than for urban economic actors. In this study we examine factors in Internet use and the technologies that farms use to get on-line. We show the difference in likelihood of broadband use with the likelihood of broadband provision and analyze the factors relative contribution through the use of logistic regression. The results suggest that both availability of the broadband Internet as well as the socio-economic characteristics of the farm operator influences the adoption of broadband Internet in their business.
    Date: 2011–09
  2. By: Manfred Walser
    Abstract: The region Walgau is located in the Austrian Federal State of Vorarlberg. The 21 municipalities started a three years development programme to develop common goals and to enhance the intercommunal cooperation. The region is characterized by a dispersed structure of settlement and differences between the more agricultural oriented mountainside and the more industrialized bottom of the valley. For this one of the main goals of process is to establish a regional learning process about different requirements and living conditions. The increasing meaning of the Web 2.0 (social web) is discussed in different fields of politics and society but less in regional development activities. The Web 2.0 means the interactive part of the Internet in which users generate their own environments and issues by communicating, sharing, collecting and co-working. User analyses show that users of different social networks have an average age between 25 and 35 years and represent a generation which weekly is represented in local and regional participation processes. At a first glance it seems promising to use such platforms to enhance the group of activists and to promote the issues of a regional development process. But the experiment also can fail if the target group of such kind of web activities strongly differ from the actors interested in such processes. In this case we have to state that the instrument and the issue fall apart. In the regional development process 'Im Walgau' a regional Wiki starts in January 2010 as an important element of a public discourse on regional development issues. At the ERSA Conference the methodological design of the development process and the concept of communication including the web 2.0- application will be presented and first empirical results of internet participation can be shown.
    Date: 2011–09
  3. By: Irene Bernhard; Elin Wihlborg
    Abstract: The emerging information society changes the relations between public agencies and citizens in many ways. One of the most used is the use of public e-services for interactions between public agencies and citizens. Public e-services as such are innovations, even if the service as such has been there before, it is a new way producing and organizing the service. For successful implementation of innovations the innovations has to be considered as legitimate by all involved actors. They have to trust the organization and not at least its safety aspects. Safety in web-innovations is created through both the practical real technical arrangement and practical experiences of the use of the innovation. On a European and national level there are some policies and some standardization of public e-services. But since the Swedish public administrations rely on a double steering approach with strong constitutional regional and local autonomy such policies cannot be forced out into regional local public agencies. Instead such European and national statements become soft policy instruments in the local context and the implications from them rely on the local context and not at least the competences of the professionals in the administration. Since this is a new field of innovative practice it will build on an inductive methodological approach. The empirical work is primarily conducted through qualitative methods. The material will be of two types. Firstly, we will analyze general policy documents and specific policies from a selection of regional and municipal agencies. Secondly, we will analyze the constructions of meanings promoting safety on the web pages and in other information material promoting citizens to use e-services. What benefits are highlighted and how are risks and safety presented and motivated? Thereby we will be able to contribute to the communication and mediation of safety and promotion of innovation and efficiency in public administration. This analysis will both contribute to the discussion of safety in public e-services and the importance of organizational arrangements. It may also end in an innovative discussion of the interplay of standardization and local autonomy.
    Date: 2011–09
  4. By: Husslage, B.G.M.; Lindelauf, R.; Hamers, H.J.M. (Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research)
    Abstract: Abstract: Lindelauf et al. (2009a) introduced a quantitative approach to investigate optimal structures of covert networks. This approach used an objective function which is based on the secrecy versus information trade-off these organizations face. Sageman (2008) hypothesized that covert networks organize according to leaderless principles, i.e., clear leaders can not be identified. This flat organizational structure is quite robust to destabilization tactics which target the most important persons in a network. There exist several centrality measures to express the importance of persons in a network. The most recent one introduced in the field of covert networks is a game theoretical centrality measure which takes into account both the structure of the covert network, which usually reflects a communication structure, as well as non-network features, which represent individual parameters like financial means or bomb building skills, see Lindelauf et al. (2011). The question we try to answer in this chapter is whether there is a relationship between the quality of a covert network based on their optimality with respect to the trade-off between secrecy and information and the variance of the game theoretic centrality measures of the respective individuals in the network. The leaderless hypothesis seems to suggest that good covert networks do not have a high distinction between centrality of the individuals, i.e., they are leaderless. We investigate this by looking at homogeneous networks and heterogeneous networks in which the links between individuals are weighted. We find that (approximate) optimal networks have low variance in game-theoretic centrality, i.e., we find evidence that supports the leaderless hypothesis. However, if the networks are heterogeneous in the sense that, for instance, certain individuals communicate much more often than others, we find that the variance increases significantly. Finally, we look at the Jemaah Islamiyah 2002 Bali bombing. We find that the operational network used to conduct and to coordinate the bombing not only facilitated both secrecy and efficiency but also adhered to the leaderless principle.
    Keywords: terrorism;network analysis;centrality;game theory.
    JEL: C71
    Date: 2012

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