Network Society course (VII). Josu Jon Imaz & Miquel Iceta: Communication in the Network Society (I)

Notes from the course Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens, Barcelona, 15-17 October, 2008.

Some reflections about the Information Society
Josu Jon Imaz, Petronor (and, before, PNV)

Growingly, we see that the network is the new paradigm of civilization, abandoning the traditional radial model. And inside networks, we find meshes that weave densest networks: the international trade, the academy, civic communities… The Internet just instrumented former existing networks.

After the French-Prussian and the two World Wars, Europe gets reconfigured, borders blur, and the territory reshapes into network-like structures. Just like this, higher level problems can be faced through innovative solutions, e.g. the creation of the European Union.

Of course, the concept of identity is put at stake, and some people and communities react against these changes. There is a need to reconcile the idea of the state with that of the network, the center vs. the network, the individual and the collective vs. the network, etc.

Increasingly, cross-border spaces arise that defy both the idea of borders and the concept of the centre. The “centre”, more an more, can be pictured wherever by whoever and still make sense.

Indeed, uncertainty seems to be the paradigm, the framework, we will be living in.

In this always reshaping and recombining world, we’re moving into a new dimension where we might discover that we do not (or not only) belong to a predefined community (e.g. a nation) but to several “territories”. E.g. two cones, living in the same plane (2D), can look (cut by the plane) one as a circle and the other one as a parabola, hence different things. But if moved to a 3D world (a new dimension) they might well find that they were both equal: a cone.

And like “territories” and “identities” have changed, so have discourses, the way we communicate, the way we broadcast. Creating content is becoming an important part of the communication process. Not just sharing information, but the part of the creativity behind. Transmission of content must be accompanied by an added value, which might be adding new content to the one that was meant to be transmitted.

Politics, politicians and political communication in the Network Society
Miquel Iceta, PSC

Why being on the Net: to be the first one to say something. Better to say things, and engage in a dialogue, than to remain silent and be not part of the conversation.

Politics 2.0: not enough having a web site, you need to go beyond the mere presence on the Net. Each channel has its rules. Nixon won in the radio, Kennedy won in the TV: politicians need to dominate the dominant media.

But in these times of uncertainty, nothing is sure: even reputation is questioned and not always the same people necessarily have always to be right. Empowerment takes place and power gets democratized.

The Internet stimulates participation, creativity, communication, community building. The Net suggests taking the path of participative democracy and deliberative democracy.

The Internet as a “digital federation” where agreements are taken freely, ad hoc, shaping a federation.

Q&A

Antoni Gutiérrez-Rubí: Is it possible to have multiple identities? Imaz: not only possible, but a good thing, as it is the multiple nodes you’re connected with the ones that define you.

Antoni Gutiérrez-Rubí: Is it possible to do politics, to have political institutions, in the Network Society? Iceta: it is true that one of the consequences of globalization is less power for local/national institutions (even international), but it is not less untrue that just because of this, there is a huge need for strong leadership and command, which can only be achieved by strong political institutions.

Javier Vázquez: How can dialogue be shifted from persons to institutions (the actual model) towards persons to persons (the model that enables the Internet)?
Q: Can the Internet put flexibility into the public election system, and be able to vote or choose ideas instead of blocks of ideas and manifestos?

Iceta: There is no evidence that political parties are going to change and reshape them into network-like structures or architectures. So, it still is difficult to contact the person (not the party) or some idea (and not the party’s discipline). Hence, we have to focus on the notion of the party and try and change it, so that the communication and interaction with the citizenry can evolve towards more open scenarios. Dogma, rite and hierarchy, the fundamentals of the party, have to be broken down so that change can happen. Nevertheless, we should not put all the eggs of participation in the basket of the Internet: people offline, for the sake of democratic legitimacy, should be included in the decision-taking processes.
Imaz: While agreeing with Iceta, there is already a e.g. political blogosphere within parties’ members and partisans that is having some influence and even some measurable impact.

Q: How can direct participation in a decision take place? Iceta: The problem is not only in taking part in the last stage of a decision process, but how to identify all the alternatives and, hence, all the individuals that are affected or interested by such decision.

Q: How to guarantee reputation in people and quality in content? Iceta: The network itself has to be the filter: the Net creates the problem, the Net has to find the solution. Digital literacy being a must towards this goal. Imaz: we tend to ask the Internet things that we do not dare ask the “reality”. Fake reputation or fool content happens everyday. Not saying that we shouldn’t be concerned about it, but just demanding enforcement at all levels. On the other hand, we have to enhance freedom before control, and empower the weak before the strong.

More info

Levine, F., Locke, C., Searls, D. & Weinberger, D. (1999). The Cluetrain Manifesto. The End of Business as Usual. New York: Cluetrain.

Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens (2008)

Network Society course (VI). Tom Steinberg: Citizenry in the Network Society (II)

Notes from the course Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens, Barcelona, 15-17 October, 2008.

Citizenry in the Network Society
Tom Steinberg, MySociety.org

MySociety is an NGO (mainly run by volunteers) whose aim is to empower the society at large so they can engage, participate and contact the policy-makers.

Initiatives:

  • WriteToThem.com: send your thoughts and queries to elected charges
  • TheyWorkForYou.com: know who an elected charge is and how do they act and think (e.g. what did they vote concerning a specific subject)
  • The Public Whip: based on the elected charges’ actions on e.g. the Parliament, engage in a debate and evaluation about these actions.
  • FixMyStreet, to let public managers know about problems in your hometown: holes on the road, graffiti on your walls, etc.
  • PledgeBank, to help people diffuse their pledges and gather other people around them so that pledges can be accomplished.
  • OpenAustralia, similar to TheyWorkForYou
  • WhatDoTheyKnow, about getting public data and information from governments
  • Groups Near You, to find communities (“real” or virtual) in the neighbourhood, to connect with them, participate, engage

The common ground of all these initiatives is follow-up: all actions and reactions (or lack of them) can be tracked and surveyed by e-mail and RSS. This follow-up feature acts as an implicit — and most times explicit — enforcement tool that helps to get things done, or to have evidence to backup criticism for inaction.

Q&A

Marc López: Why Spain have no initiatives like those? How would a Spanish elected charge feel when facing such “controlling” devices?

Q: What do the institutions and politicians think about all these initiatives? A: Most probably they feel right when ranked positively on these sites according to their answers to queries sent by the users.

Q: Is it the low Internet usage level in Spain the reason not to have such initiatives? Lack of interest? A: Because of the low cost to set up and run any of those initiatives, there’s no need to have a huge “market” to turn them on. So, it’s not worth waiting and, instead, just wait for a couple of good uses of the tools. If they show benefits, then “people will come”.

Q: How to get the data that feed these sites? Are governments eager to publish them? A: Normally, harvesting them is tough. But it is also true that most data should be public by law, so you’re in your right to enforce the governments to make them available [see also WhatDoTheyKnow above].

Andrian Mangin: Do you notice (and how) changes in the politicians? A: There are indicators within the sites that measure performance of the politicians featured there, so at least, indirectly, through the evaluations the users make of them, you can guess whether there was a change or not.

Ricard Ruiz de Querol: How to replicate some of the initiatives? A: So you want to start an organisation like mySociety? Some tips for aspirants. Of course, funding, even if small, is always an issue. Starting purely with volunteers always an option, at least for the kick off.

Felipe González Gil: Do you think these initiatives will help reducing bipartidism, which is fostered by mainstream media by letting minority parties out? A: Can’t tell, but, potentially, the Internet (and, most specifically, these sites) it is a horizontal platform so that anyone can have the same coverage. But, with the exception of America (because of many reasons), these sites have not had any impact on e.g. presidential elections. So, they’re good for monitoring, but not for campaigning.

Ismael Peña-López: what about the trade-off between common good and wanting the elected charge to scratch my own and only itch? A: All sites collect statistics at the aggregate level, even if you’re asking for a personal problem (e.g. like Amazon’s suggestions). Everything’s public and easy to see what happens at the “community” level. Nevertheless, the caveat is: if you build something what will help other, it’s great, and it’s got its place; but the more focused the site is in your own needs, the more likely you are to use it, to be engaged, as the impact affects you. On the other way, by putting yourself on the map (because of a personal demand), you’re likely to contacting other people with the similar needs and end up by doing things together at the community level [see also Groups Near You, above].

Q: What about the digital divide? A: Let’s look it the other way: what about people that would never ever had contacted an elected charge because it was way too difficult? On the other hand, the sites are really user friendly, easy to use, so a simple action can be quickly done and the return of the effort is immediate. So, it is easy to shift up towards more complex virtual actions in these or other sites.

Q: Is there any impact? A: Even if the output is “just” having an answer, an e-mail, from the Prime Ministers, the issue is that technology has made it possible and almost costless. Contacting back 2M people that signed a petition was almost impossible and, by all means, its cost made it non-viable. Now, feedback can be sent, personally, at almost zero cost. That’s an improvement.

Q: In what kind of cities/town is the impact and use more likely to be found? A: Most probably, in bigger areas, where there is no personal acquaintance with the politicians. Also where the civil society is less articulated.

Q: Is there any law that obliges the Members of the Parliament in the UK to answer public petitions? A: Yes, according to some rules, they have to give explanations, but, in general, they are not obliged at all.

Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens (2008)

Network Society course (V). Carol Darr: Citizenry in the Network Society (I)

Notes from the course Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens, Barcelona, 15-17 October, 2008.

Citizenry in the Network Society
Carol Darr, Harvard Kennedy School

One American in then tells the other nine how to vote, where to eat, and what to buy. They are The Influentials (Ed Keller & Jon Berry).

Obama had little influence, short experience, etc. to have rallied for being the democrat candidate to the presidency of the US: to raise votes and, most important, to raise money. What did happen so that he could be a candidate to the primary elections and, actually, to end being the candidate to the presidential elections? Everybody can buy products, but not everybody does: how do you make people buy your product? There’re some people that influence others to do things.

The Influentials find new ideas, find new people, and gather information because they are all the time picking and pulling information from anywhere. The Influentials know what’s happening in their communities and build social networks, because they know e.g. twice as many people as any other person, and hence they are at the forefront of whatever is happening… or going to happen.

The Influentials are important, especially for politicians and governments:

  • Other people look for them and value their opinions
  • They engage and are active within their communities
  • They are at the cutting edge of events, 2 to 5 years beyond the rest of the world
  • They are deeply interested in politics

Being influential is about being engaged in community activities, disseminating information about these activities, letting your ideas being known in media or at events, directly letting your ideas being heard by decision-takers by taking part in their events or agendas or teams, etc.

Influentials, Poli-Influentials and Politicians

Influentials and Poli-Influentials do more things that define the profile of an Influential than politicians or other people do, especially those activities that are more active. But, indeed, also passive political activities have a higher level of engagement amongst Influentials and Poli-Influentials.

When talking about online proactive political activities, Poli-Influentials detach themselves from Influentials and Politicians, that (while less active the latter), approach their profiles.

Poli-Influentials have usually (and significatively) reached a higher education level, being 60% of them post-graduates (PhD, masters, etc.). Notwithstanding, education does not affect the kind of activities taken by anyone, just the degree. In other words: the more education, the more influential activities people engage in, but in just the same proportion (online vs. offline, imparting a conference vs. writing an article, etc.) that other people not as much engaged. As expected, passive activities get the lion’s share vs. proactive activities.

It’s astonishing [appalling?] to see how little involved Politicians are. And, against all myths, how highly involved are intensive Internet users.

Q&A

Q: If Barack Obama won the presidential election, would he be keeping the online channel “open”? Or was it just for campaigning? A: He does not have a choice. The conversation is set, so it is plain impossible to close it. People are now empowered, and they are not letting this be lost. On the other hand, the online channel benefits Barack Obama: because of the young profile of Internet users; and because the Internet requires proaction (is not passive) so it benefits charismatic leaders because their magnetism drives people inside the Internet and proactively look for information and engage in whatever online action.

Ismael Peña-López: This is the description of a profile… but what about the performance of these profiles? Politicians (by construction) get what they planned (they’re ruling anyway), but what about Influentials and Poli-Influentials? Why not everybody that does the things that influentials do, are that influent? What happens when influentials become rulers? Is it good? Is it bad? A: We might not know what Influentials’ impact is as individuals, taken one by one. But we do know that the activities that define the Influentials and Poli-Influentials profiles do have an impact on politics. Hence, we can infer, at the aggregate level, that the more influential activities you’re engaged in, the more influential (again, at the aggregate level) you’re likely to be. And, indeed, people behind influential activities are often used as an asset by partisans and politicians, to get ideas from them, to recruit them, etc. Concerning politicians (and other people) not engaged, this is a luxury that is not sustainable in he long run: the Internet has showed the power that it can feed to a newby (i.e. Obama) that knows how to be engaged and use empowering tools to raise communities and debate around him.

Q: what’s the liaison between online and offline engagement? A: There’s a closest link. People were already engaged before the Internet. The Net just made it easier. Of course, as an easier way to be engaged, it is becoming an excellent entry gate for people flirting with being influential, but all in all, sooner or later, they’ll create their offline or local communities, and engage in many other activities different than online.

Q: are offliners cease to be influentials? A: Not yet. There’s always people that knows everybody, the big media, the professional apparatus, etc. But it is likely to happen that the raise of video, that does not require written fluency, will shift the landscape towards a more balanced distribution of influence.

Q: Was it the lack of women in the Internet the reason why Hillary Clinton was not elected? A: Not likely. Barack Obama won because of other reasons: change, connection with the young, a personal philosophy similar to that of the Internet (freedom, conversation, proaction). Hillary Clinton represented just the opposite philosophy.

Marc López: Are we going towards a fragmented way of policy making? Towards a world of nano-lobbies and politicians serving nano-lobbies’ interests? A: Guess it’ll be just that way. Every single person of the world with a cellphone + camera has a world wide reach TV emitter.

More info

Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet (2004) Political Influentials Online in the 2004 Presidential Campaign (PDF file, 2.92MB)

Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens (2008)

Network Society course (IV). Santiago Ortiz: Organizations in the Network Society (II)

Notes from the course Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens, Barcelona, 15-17 October, 2008.

Organizations in the Network Society (II)
Santiago Ortiz, Bestiario

To think of the enterprise as a network, as we can think of this course as a network: Visualization tool of the course Network Society

The reality is composed by networks, networks that can understood through the approach of complexity or complex systems. And the definition of the individual, and even the way it learns (Maturana & Valera), can be explained in relationship with the exterior, with the environment, and its relationships.

In this train of though, ICTs can help map and visualize the relationships that are weaved among individuals and organizations, how they get and diffuse knowledge. This can indeed help to build confidence: confidence is based on visibility, thus digital presence enhances confidence by increasing visibility.

Emergence

Many concepts of the complex theory can be applied to enterprises: pattern transmission, movement or changes that emerge from simple rules [see more info: Johnson], etc. E.g., the football club: the players change, the coach changes, the followers change… and nevertheless the club remains “the same”.

Fractals are another way of looking at it: simple structures, combined with exponential repetitions and successions, conform new approaches, constructions, relationships that do take place in reality.

Complexity provides us with tools and a language to approach nowadays (ICT mediated) relationships so that we can understand them, measure them, replicate them. Every so often, people feed the Internet not with content, but with applications, which is another way of saying that they feed the Internet with dynamic ideas.

Visibility, transparency of relationships

They Rule, Hans Rosling: Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you’ve ever seen.

Patterns of emergence: movement, attractors… They create and destroy networks: in the human or animal realms (birds flock 3D).

Share of the radio spectrum, City Distances. Sometimes (Spisi) the results are non-conclusive: we can represent the information but no pattern and/or causability seems to arise.

The notion of collective intelligence, of a sort of “exo-brain”, where relationships are most important in the learning and storing of knowledge (Metaplexity).

And education itself can be understood too as a challenge to represent — and transmit — complex information. For instance, Mitozoos is a simulation game about genetics, where a genome determines a phenotype, and this phenotype the relationships amongst individuals, their ability to survive or endure, etc.

Archivo de la Junta para Ampliación de Estudios e Investigaciones Científicas (1907-1939) to analyse grants to scientists to do research abroad, relating people, years, disciplines and geography.

Q&A

Felipe González Gil: isn’t this the hegemony of the visual? Is it sustainable, due to the effort needed? Is there room for sound? A: we overestimate the real cost/effort of viewing a network. So, it is no hegemony (in a pejorative sense), as it is not elitist; and it is sustainable, just for the same reasons of low cost/effort. Sound has not been analyzed or worked with in depth, and it is true that present tools do not offer much flexibility to experiment with sound and, thus, combine visualizations with sounds.

Personal reflections

The most interesting part of Santiago Ortiz’s speech is the subversion of hypertext: in hypertext, the text is the core, the conceptual unit, and the link or hyperlink a means to relate two different texts (and through several links, to create a network).

In Ortiz’s approach, the core, the conceptual unit, is the link itself. It is the relationships that matter. And they do not matter because they explain how two different things are related, but as an explanatory construct in itself: it is the network that speaks, not the nodes it is made of; it is e.g. how texts are related one to each other that tells us things, not what the texts themselves say.

To do list: try 6pli.

More info

Juan Freire La empresa como interfaz

Juan Freire De la superficie a la interfaz: de la superficialidad a la complejidad

Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens (2008)

Network Society course (III). Enrique Dans: Organizations in the Network Society (I)

Notes from the course Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens, Barcelona, 15-17 October, 2008.

Organizations in the Network Society
Enrique Dans, Instituto de Empresa

The evolution from the oral tradition, to writing, to the press is that of making it possible, between people and along time, communication: first, is lasts; then, is can be replicated. And it was put at the service of the society at a “reasonable” cost. Same happened with the media (TV, radio, etc.) revolution. But still it had a cost, and thus, timespan was expensive and not accessible by everyone. The Internet opens the box.

What’s the impact on organizations?

Ronald Coase: firms exist because of transaction costs.

But now, we can see that these transaction costs have dropped and many people can engage in shared projects at lowest costs [see below, Benkler].

Intellectual property rights are, systematically seen as a barrier, as a new transaction cost that seems (a) useless and (b) induces to circumvention.

A Netocracy is arising that demands a reflection about the needs to rethink some long-established conventions, as Tim Berners-Lee de facto did in designing the World Wide Web.

Some examples of new organizations
  • The real innovation of Amazon.com was not selling books online, but rearranging the shelves of the bookshop for each and every customer that “entered” the shop… at (almost) zero cost.
  • Ebay made profitable selling some goods by (a) attracting massive amounts of customers while (b) keeping very low the transaction costs.
  • Google build an index by having people built it for free: when doing links, when doing searches, etc.
  • Napster made music distribution available at low transaction costs.
  • Blogger, making it easy to publish content online
  • BitTotrrent, to distribute huge amounts of data without having to own a powerful server and access to the Net
  • Friendster, to maintain one’s own network
  • Keyhole, to put yourself on the map and get geographically contextualized information
  • YouTube, to share videos
  • FaceBook, making it possible to develop applications and turning the social networking site into a platform

And more and more people are used to work based on the afore mentioned services, plus voice over IP, etc. But still there are different layers of adoption, where early adopters are way beyond the rest of the organizations, that still think about computers. But computer-centric technology/philosophy just does not allow this decentralized way of working, of cutting down transaction costs. Cloud computing is about the opposite of PC-centric computing.

Access to information and the economy of scarcity

We stick to old mental models, based on the scarcity of information, and we tend to collect and store information instead of learning (and teaching) how to find it. The added value is no more in finding, getting, storing the information, but on transforming it.

But it is true that to have changes being done, an added value proposal for that change is to be attached. And evidence shows that it is easier to begin from scratch (i.e. a brand new firm) that bring change on an existing infrastructure.

One added value: peeping through the keyhole. Knowing what’s been told about you / your enterprise.

Access to information and the economy of attention

The amount of information is so huge that it is very difficult to catch anyone’s (e.g. the custormer’s) attention. People shift between media with most ease and at no cost. And not only between media, but between platforms, e.g. from the TV to the Internet.

Some new strategies to catch the audiences’ attention necessarily have to be created: the presentation of the iPhone, the release of Google’s Chrome…

Using social networking software (SNS) might not be a goal in itself where there’s not a natural social network. But using SNS’s capabilities to improve other environments can add value to old or traditional processes.

On the other hand, it well might be a goal in itself, as digital natives will sooner or later enter the organizations and bring with them all the technologies and ways of working of the Generation Y. And, as a matter of fact, this is something that will surely happen.

More info

Benkler, Y. (2002). “Coase’s Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm”. In The Yale Law Journal, 112(3), 369–446. New Haven: The Yale Law Journal Company.

Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens (2008)

Network Society course (II). Irene Mia: State of development of the Networked Society

Notes from the course Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens, Barcelona, 15-17 October, 2008.

State of development of the Networked Society
Irene Mia, World Economic Forum

The Global Competitiveness Report and The Global Information Technology Report

The Global Competitiveness Report

A network of experts that reports the state of the economy in most countries of the World (covering circa 98% of the World’s GDP). The network works also on tourism, technology, private investment, etc.

The main goal is seeing why, given different countries with very different frameworks and socioeconomic backgrounds, why some of them behave similarly. It seems that there is a high correlation between competitiveness and e-readiness: ICTs are a general purpose technology that impacts all levels, thus why its relationship with competitiveness.

The Global Information Technology Report and the Networked Readiness Index

To see how countries can benefit from ICTs, how ready are they to enter the Information Society. To do so:

  • A proper environment: business environment, government environment, individual environment
  • A joint action between all the social actors to work together and share a common vision towards the Information Society
  • Readiness, to make usage possible.

A composed index of three subindices:

  • Environment: Market, Political/Regulatory, Infrastructure
  • Readiness: Individual, Business, Government
  • Usage: Individual, Business, Government

Data come from two different kind of sources: hard data, coming from national statistics; soft data, coming from experts that note down their perceptions. There is criticism on this last kind of data, dubbed as subjective; but perceptions, in the Economy, do play an important role, so despite the bias that might arise, it is also a way to gather all subjectiveness from a country’s reality.

Denmark — and other Scandinavian countries — are normally on top of the rankings. They are countries that are very innovative, competitive and wide open to international trade and a way of understanding the World as a global arena. On the other hand, some small Asia-Pacific countries have transformed their economies from having poor natural resources to be able to export hi-tech products and services. Last, some Arabic countries are also quickly scaling up the rankings, the reason being the diversification of their economies beyond oil.

Evidence shows that when there is an acknowledged strategy and philosophy to foster the Information Society (especially between businesses and governments), results are much better at achieving higher e-development goals.

The role of Governments in e-Readiness

The level of government readiness and usage is crucial, as it is a vector that dynamizes the introduction of new technology, the supply of services, the activation of the demand for those digital services, etc.

The case of Estonia

The shift from a planned (soviet) economy towards an open market one.

A huge effort was made to make government more efficient and to provide an appropriate environment so that the digital economy could develop: high usage, computers and Internet at home and at school, high level of e-government, etc.

  • Leadership from the top
  • Holistic national ICT Policy
  • An inclusive information society
  • Public-private partnerships
The case of Israel

Strong bet on software and exporting software — coming from a traditional economy based on exports of citrus.

How to create the appropriate environment? The government acted as an “ICT powerhouse”: investment in infrastructures, in R&D, in capacity and skills, in enterprise-university partnerships, firm incubators and venture capital, etc. Even this government “intervention”, it was always seen as “market friendly” and contributing to its dynamization without crowding it out.

The case of Taiwan

Incredible economic development based on hi-tech exports, with a highest share of ICT products worldwide.

Again, the strong role of the government and its vision and leadership. An emphasis on education, high quality training; innovation and investment, fostered through incubation programmes and parks.

Other countries that had high positive changes in their Networked Readiness Raking were China, Guatemala, India, Jamaica, Lithuania, Romania, the Russian Federation, Ukraine or Vietnam. Reasons for success being similar to the ones afore mentioned, including many important changes in education too. On the other hand, Africa or the Western Hemisphere showed poor change, normally due not (only) to lack of infrastructures, but to more fundamental reasons like being able to make change happen, the educational and socioeconomic framework, etc.

Q&A

Q: What does it take to shift one point upwards in the index/rankings? A: We don’t know, because the problem is that each country’s reality is too complex to draw a single model.

Q: In the case of Spain, how will it impact the law of access to the e-Administration or the electronic ID? How ambitious is the year 2010 deadline? A: It surely would, but it will not be in the short run. On the other hand, rankings are comparative, so it not only depends on your own performance but on your neighbours’. Of course, accomplishing deadlines also depend on the complexity of specific countries, so it is difficult to tell.

Q: Why e-readiness and usage measured apart? How it is that usage can be higher than readiness? A: Usage is more about e-government (public services, content, etc.), e-readiness more about strategy and policies.

Q: Are there rankings amongst countries with similar populations? Where’s France? Are there any countries going backwards? A: There are no rankings amongst similar populations, but it does make sense as implementation quite often depends on the total population (both positively and negatively).

Q: Is there any repository of best practices? A: The World Economic Forum publishes their case studies — based on successful practices —, as do some other organizations, but normally not as repositories but within reports, etc.

Q: Andalousia (southern Spain) has implemented telecenters and put computers+Internet in the classroom… but it looks like teachers are not ready to (efficiently) use them in teaching. Have other countries (e.g. Denmark) found the way to (efficiently) promote the use of ICTs in education? A: More than ICT policies, it is about education policies. Finland, for instance, invested highly in teachers and their skills (but also in wages). [see also “more info” below]

Q: Why is the civil society scared of the government having an important intervention? A: Public intervention is a need, and it should be better explained why, but there also is a need to protect the individuals in front of some violations of rights like privacy, security, freedom of expression, etc.

Q: What’s the role of web 2.0 apps in e-Readiness? A: It is especially about the role of the citizenry, the relationship of individuals with organizations, etc. And it will have a positive impact on usage, availability of information, etc.

Q: Intellectual property rights… are a barrier or a protection? A: It surely is a double-edged instrument, and there are reasons to and against having IP rights, and there is no clear positioning about them. What it is clear, is that governments should have a criterion about it and act according to it, coherently and consistently.

Demand or supply policies, push or pull strategies? A: In the case of developed countries (e.g. Spain) that already have some amount of infrastructures and skills, most probably the bet should be on demand-based policies and pull strategies to put the user actively in the equation.

More info

Dutta, S., López-Claros, A. & Mia, I. (Eds.) (2008). Global Information Technology Report 2007-2008: Fostering Innovation through Networked Readiness. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Dutta, S. & Mia, I. (Eds.) (2007). Global Information Technology Report 2006-2007: Connecting to the Networked Economy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Dutta, S., López-Claros, A. & Mia, I. (Eds.) (2006). Global Information Technology Report 2005-2006: Leveraging ICT for Development. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Dutta, S. & López-Claros, A. (Eds.) (2005). Global Information Technology Report 2004-2005: Efficiency in an Increasing Connected World. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
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Network Society: Social Changes, Organizations and Citizens (2008)