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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:22 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #42:February 7, 2002

Information, Communication & Society

Journal Name: Information, Communication & Society,
Volume 2, Number 3, 1999


Hiding Crimes in Cyberspace
By Dorothy E. Denning (Georgetown University, USA) and William E. Baugh, Jr. (Science Applications International Corporation, USA)
Criminals have at their disposal a variety of technologies for hiding communications and evidence stored on computers from law enforcement. These include encryption, passwords, digital compression, steganography, remote storage, and audit disabling. They can also hide crimes through anonymity tools and techniques such as anonymous remailers, anonymous digital cash, looping, cloned cellular phones, and cellular phone cards. This paper discusses use of these technologies by criminals and terrorists, and how that use has affected investigations and prosecutions. Options available to law enforcement for dealing with the technologies, especially encryption, are also discussed. Numerous case studies are presented for illustration.

The Hyperbolic Age of Information: An Empirical Study of Internet Usage
By Debra Howcroft (Salford University, UK)
The simplistic assumption that technological advancement will result in social change is prevalent amongst the mass media, academic communities and government bodies alike. Whether fuelled by a utopian or dystopian vision, predictions of immense social change brought about by technological developments surround us. Central to these visions is information, which many perceive as being imbued with revolutionary potential. However, the author argues that much of the rhetoric and hyperbole surrounding these deterministic predictions bears little relationship to the technology as used, and there is a pressing need for descriptive and empirical work. This paper provides an empirical study of the nature and usage of the Internet in a variety of organizational settings. The findings show that the technology, as a popular example of technological advancement resulting in social change, has the propensity to confirm both utopian and dystopian outcomes, albeit in relation to a variety of social factors. Whilst these visions are often presented as a mutually exclusive paring, the study shows that they both express a partial truth. More often than not, the consequences of Internet usage are situated at some point along a continuum from utopia to dystopia; it is useful for some people for some of the time, for some particular purpose.

Globalization: Information Technology and Culture within the Space Economy of Late Capitalism
By Robert Hassan (Swinburne University, Australia)
This article analyses the process of globalization from the perspective of a political economy of space where the interactions of the processes of capitalist accumulation within contexts of geographic and social space has profound shaping effects upon the nature of politics, economics and society more generally. The argument will show that contemporary globalization has two dimensions: outward into geographic space, and inward into culture and society. The focus then moves to culture and information technology within the space economy of late capitalism and argues that a crisis of finite geographic space has led to the deepening of the commodificationary processes of capitalist accumulation into the identity-spaces of culture and society. For hugely popular cyber-gurus such as Howard Rheingold and Myron W. Krueger, the development of information technologies such as the Internet-derived virtual communities are spaces where new forms of democracy and being can emerge. This article argues that cyberspace and virtual communities are deeply dystopic and alienated spaces, and cyber-Utopian dreams of other, possible worlds made virtual through information technology are at best naive, when it is realised that the information revolution that evolved from the processes of a particular type of globalization, has conceived and developed technologies with primarily profit, productivity, surveillance labour-saving and escapism in mind.

Informatization and Public Administration: A Political Science Perspective
By John Hudson (University of York, UK)
In recent years, both academic and policy making circles in the UK have shown a growing interest in the potential uses of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the delivery of government services. Much of the academic literature has been centred around the concept of informatization, and it has been suggested that the new technologies are transforming public services. Key theorists in the field of Public Administration have argued that informatization is one of a number of major trends likely to shape public services in the twenty-first century. However, the dominant theoretical approaches within public administration those rooted in political science suggest that inertia and stability are the norm in the public sector; clearly there is something of a contradiction between these two broad approaches. This paper outlines three political science perspectives that might be used in analysing informatization: the policy networks approach, rational choice and the new institutionalism. Evidence is then drawn from the social security, health care and social care sectors of the British public sector and related to the political science frameworks in order to examine their utility. Not only do these frameworks rightly highlight the incremental nature of change, but they also help to explain important variations in ICT use across the three policy sectors. It is concluded that combining the study of informatization and political science offers a fruitful avenue for future research.

Party Democracy Online: UK Parties and New ICTs
By Rachel Gibson and Steven Ward (University of Salford, UK)
This paper examines the impact of new information and communications technologies (ICTs) on levels of intra-party democracy in the UK in light of recent claims of increasing centralization of power and marginalization of members within West European political parties. Specifically, it examines whether parties adoption of the internet, in the shape of an internal computer communication system (ICCS) and internal party groups use of the World Wide Web (WWW), is promoting intra-party democracy in two areas: (1) the vertical distribution of power between members and elites; (2) the spatial concentration of power between intra-party groupings and central party elites. The findings show that while many parties have made use of the internet for internal communication there is no concerted effort being made by parties to harness its potential to promote members input into decision-making and elite accountability.

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