Type of work: Communication
What difference does e-government make to the capacity of governments to interact with citizens? How does it affect government’s place in social and informational networks - the ‘nodality’ of contemporary government? What is the structure of ‘government on the web’ and how do citizens experience government on-line? This paper uses methods from computer science (particularly webmetrics) and political science (a ‘tools of government’ approach) to go further than previous work in developing a methodology to quantitatively analyse the structure of government on the web, building on Petricek et al (2006). It applies structural metrics (via webcrawling) and user metrics (via user experiments) to the web sites of comparable ministries concerned with foreign affairs in three countries (Australia, the US and the UK). The results are used to assess the on-line presence of the three foreign offices along five dimensions: visibility, accessibility, extroversion, navigability and competitiveness. These dimensions might be developed further as indicators for use by both researchers (to assess e-government initiatives) and by governments (to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their on-line presence). Governments which are successful in developing their web sites in this way are likely to have greater visibility to citizens, businesses and other governments, strengthening nodality as a policy tool.