On Thursday March 8th, 2007, a workshop on e-Government is taking place at the IN3 headquarters in Castelldefels, Spain, among researchers from the Oxford Internet Institute and the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute. Here come my notes for the first part of the workshop:
Bill Dutton then presents their research, focusing in a couple of aspects. The first one, is the huge interest in the digital divide, related to the economic divide, a great barrier for any enhancement or fostering of the Information Society anywhere. The second one is what he/they [at the OII] call the digital choice: a lot of people choose not to use the Internet, even if they could, because they’re not interested in it, it just does not add value to them. It looks like it is really related to age to stand in the analogue paradigm/world.
Dutton then goes to the issue on how the Internet is affecting our social skills and relationships. He states that when using online media you reshape your [physical] network and get to know and relate to people that, otherwise, you (surely never) would never ever meet.
One of the points Dutton puts more stress in is in trying to change — or, at least, influence — the work of policy makers, in the shape of policy guidelines or recommendations. On the one hand, public funds pay most of the research they’re doing, so trying to influence the public sphere becomes sort of a payback for this funding. On the other hand, putting it to practice is a means to see how research is connected to reality and what exactly is its use.
Agustí Cerrillo speaks about e-Government as not the automating of the Administration, but a deeper change. In this line, the actual legal [public] framework in Spain does not really provide a good environment to innovate in this subject, though there are plenty initiatives in the field. And even if the legal framework is being adapted to e-Administration/e-Government — by publishing new e-Government laws —, the day-to-day reality in the Administration is not being changed that much.
Research in public information and electronic access to this information by the citizens is a key issue, in three aspects:
- Use and diffusion of public information, and also the reuse of this public information
- Dangers and damages that public information can cause: quality of public information, use and misuse of this information for good/bad purposes
- Public sector information accessibility, that should be universally available online
Pere Fabra then talks about e-Justice and the research and report on e-Justice in Latin America carried on last year [the full report can be downloaded here (, 4.69 Mb)]. For Fabra, the best output was not the data raised by the research but the (new) methodology created to do the research, a relatively virgin field that requires further work to obtain accurate indicators and means to measure the state of e-Justice. One of the best findings was that leadership was really crucial in the fostering of e-Justice strategies and projects, hence this was one of the most stressed recommendations when the report was presented, that any initiative in this field should begin with a good leadership design.
Bill Dutton and Rebecca Eynon introduce some more projects in this same area of knowledge, among them Government on the Web —
dedicated to improving knowledge and understanding of e-government and the impact of web-based technologies on government — and Network Democracy 2.0.
During the debate, it is stressed the point that e-Administration or e-Government usually focus on the executive power but usually forget the legislative power. It might be a matter of efficiency, in the sense that Government action is more likely to be evaluated, changed or enhanced, but it might also be that the legislative power is less prone to change and it deals with more “delicate” issues for the citizenship itself, so “it better remain untouched” before avant-garde ideas settle down and prove their goodness.
About public information in the Internet, it’s weird to realize that most people will say that they are not interested in public sector information or Administration websites, but they do search the Internet for Health or Education information and, most times, they end up reading Public Administration websites, either being aware of if but either being not, i.e. searching and finding in Google what they’d never search or even find in the Government website. Thus, research in this field of public information and public services should be reshaped to really get the relevant data despite what the citizen wants to say about what he does or about what he think he does.
OII-IN3 Workshop on e-Government (2007)
If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:
Peña-López, I. (2007) “OII-IN3 Workshop on e-Government (part I)” In ICTlogy,
#42, March 2007. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=512
Next post: OII-IN3 Workshop on e-Government (part II)