nep-ict New Economics Papers
on Information and Communication Technologies
Issue of 2017‒06‒25
five papers chosen by
Walter Frisch
Universität Wien

  1. Where is the virtual self? Virtual worlds and the self as a cyborg By Simon Evans
  2. The economics of ownership, access and trade in digital data By Georgios Alaveras; Estrella Gomez-Herrera; Bertin Martens
  3. The effect of broadband internet on establishments' employment growth: evidence from Germany By Stockinger, Bastian
  4. Information and Communication Technologies and Employment Generation in Turkish Manufacturing Industry By Yilmaz Kiliçaslan; Ünal Töngür
  5. Computing the everyday: social media as data platforms By Cristina Alaimo; Jannis Kallinikos

  1. By: Simon Evans
    Abstract: In the context of widespread availability of digital technology as a means for interacting with others, it is useful to explore the extent to which participation in online environments, such as virtual worlds, reflect a transformation in the experience of self in society. One approach is to consider how self emerges from the context provided by the interactions that occur across and within physical and virtual environments, through capturing the experience of someone as they actively engage with a virtual world. This can be done employing Subjective Evidence-Based Ethnography (SEBE) methodologies. SEBE involves first-person audio-visual recording of experience with a subcam (a miniature video-camera worn at eye level), followed by a Replay Interview (RIW) using the recording to collect participant subjective experience. In this study, participants’ usage of the virtual world Second Life has been recorded, capturing the inworld virtual activity and the physical world context in which it is framed. Inductive thematic analysis of the data arising from the usage sessions and the RIWs reveals a number of findings. There are several levels of interaction occurring between the virtual world user, their avatar, other users, the virtual world technology, and the physical environment. The experience of self that emerges is one in multiple locations, bridged by technological mediation, such that someone who uses virtual worlds becomes a form of cyborg.
    Keywords: virtual self; virtual worlds; Second Life; subjective evidence-based ethnography; digital ethnography; cyborg
    JEL: L91 L96
    Date: 2016
  2. By: Georgios Alaveras (European Commission – JRC); Estrella Gomez-Herrera (European Commission – JRC); Bertin Martens (European Commission – JRC)
    Abstract: This study measures the extent of cross-border geo-blocking and the impact on product availability and pricing for three non-audio-visual digital media products (music, e-books and games) in the EU Digital Single Market. We find that cross-border access to online media stores is generally blocked for the products and distributors surveyed in this study, though it can usually be circumvented. By contrast, cross-border availability is high, reaching around 98.6% for e-books on Amazon, 90% for downloadable music on iTunes, and 81.1% and 90.5% respectively for PS3 and PS4 PlayStation games. We could not directly verify cross-border availability of music in streaming services but a small sample test suggests that it could reach around 96% on Spotify. We find that the frequency of cross-country price differentiation is limited for games in the Sony PlayStation stores (less than 4%) but higher for downloadable music in the Apple iTunes stores (11.5%) and Amazon e-book stores (26%). Much of this price differentiation is driven by exchange rates and rounding off prices in country stores not denominated in Euro. In music, price discrimination is used mostly to extract higher prices from high-income consumers and for more popular songs with a lower price elasticity of demand. Subscription prices for main music streaming services are strongly correlated with country per capita income levels. Geographical market differentiation and geo-blocking in digital media is often attributed to the territoriality of the copyright management regime. In most cases rights holders are in a position to issue multi-territorial licenses. For commercial reasons however they may prefer to exercise their rights on a territorial basis. The welfare effect of geo-blocking on sellers can be safely assumed to be positive otherwise sellers would not apply this commercial strategy. The impact on consumer welfare is a-priori ambiguous. Geo-blocking reduces the extent of product variety available to consumers. Whether it increases or reduces consumer welfare is an empirical question. The data required to empirically estimate the impact of (lifting) geo-blocking restrictions on welfare are held by the private platform operators. A future assessment can only be made if the required data on product prices and sales are made available to independent researchers. Lifting geo-blocking restrictions will induce price arbitrage between country markets. That may put pressure on sellers to reduce price differentiation and push some prices up, others down. The price response of sellers is hard to predict and may have repercussions not only on downstream consumers but also on upstream parts of the supply chain. Price convergence is unlikely to be perfect and some differentiation may continue to exist because trade costs between country stores may not fall to zero (exchange rates, means of payment, linguistic trade barriers, etc.).
    Keywords: digital single market, copyright, digital media, audio-visual, music, e-books, online games
    JEL: D23 K11
    Date: 2017–06
  3. By: Stockinger, Bastian (Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany])
    Abstract: "This study investigates the effects of local broadband internet availability on establishment- level employment growth. The analysis uses data for Germany in the years 2005-2009, when broadband was introduced in rural regions of Western Germany and in large parts of Eastern Germany. Technical frictions in broadband rollout are exploited to obtain exogenous variation in local broadband availability. The results suggest that broadband expansion had a positive effect on employment growth in the Western German service sector and a negative effect in Western German manufacturing. This pattern of results is driven by pronounced positive effects in knowledge- and computer-intensive industries, suggesting that it is the actual use of broadband in the production process that leads to complementary hiring, respectively a slowdown of employment growth, in the respective sectors. For Eastern Germany, no significant employment growth effects are found." (Author's abstract, IAB-Doku) ((en))
    JEL: J63 O33 R23
    Date: 2017–06–13
  4. By: Yilmaz Kiliçaslan (Anadolu University); Ünal Töngür
    Abstract: This study aims to examine the impact of the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) on employment generation in the Turkish manufacturing industry. This study is said to be the first attempt in exploring the impact of ICT on employment generation in Turkish manufacturing industry at the firm level. The analysis is based on firm level data obtained from Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) and covers the period from 2003 to 2013. The data used in the analysis includes all firms employing 20 or more employees in Turkish manufacturing industry. Our findings based on system GMM estimations show that ICT has employment-enhancing effects in Turkish manufacturing. Moreover, our results provide the evidence that tangible ICT capital has stronger employment generation impact than that of intangible ICT capital in medium-tech and low-tech industries.
    Date: 2017–07–13
  5. By: Cristina Alaimo; Jannis Kallinikos
    Abstract: We conceive social media platforms as sociotechnical entities that variously shape user platform involvement and participation. Such shaping develops along three fundamental data operations that we subsume under the terms of encoding, aggregation, and computation. Encoding entails the engineering of user platform participation along narrow and standardized activity types (e.g., tagging, liking, sharing, following). This heavily scripted platform participation serves as the basis for the procurement of discrete and calculable data tokens that are possible to aggregate and, subsequently, compute in a variety of ways. We expose these operations by investigating a social media platform for shopping. We contribute to the current debate on social media and digital platforms by describing social media as posttransactional spaces that are predominantly concerned with charting and profiling the online predispositions, habits, and opinions of their user base. Such an orientation sets social media platforms apart from other forms of mediating online interaction. In social media, we claim, platform participation is driven toward an endless online conversation that delivers the data footprint through which a computed sociality is made the source of value creation and monetization.
    Keywords: categories; classification; data infrastructures; posttransactional spaces; social data; sociality; social interaction; social media platforms
    JEL: L91 L96
    Date: 2017–06–02

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