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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 23:42 05/08/2009
Journal Abstracts #324: May 8, 2009

Information, Communication & Society

Journal Name: Information, Communication & Society:
Volume 12, Issue 1, February 2009

Online ISSN: 1468-4462, Print ISSN: 1369-118X



Conceptual, technical, and legal issues
Bert-Jaap Koops; Ronald Leenes; Martin Meints (Independent Centre for Privacy Protection Schleswig-Holstein (ICPP) Holstenstr, Kiel, Germany); Nicole van der Meulen; David-Olivier Jaquet-Chiffelle (Hochschule fur Technik und Informatik (HTI), Postfach, Biel, CH)
Identification is ever more important in the online world, and identity-related crime is a growing problem related to this. This new category of crime is not restricted to high-profile instances of identity 'theft' or identity fraud; it is wide-ranging and complex, ranging from identity deletion to unlawful identity creation and identity 'theft'. Commonly accepted definitions are lacking, thus blurring available statistics, and policies to combat this new crime are piecemeal at best. To assess the real nature and magnitude of identity-related crime, and to be able to discuss how it can be combated, identity-related crime should be understood in all its aspects. As a first key step, this article introduces a typology of identity-related crime, consisting of conceptual, technical and legal categories, that can be used as a comprehensive framework for future research, countermeasures and policies related to identity-related crime.

Keywords: identity theft; identity fraud; Internet; policy

Uses and limitations of Internet technologies for contemporary activism
Kevin Gillan (University of Manchester School of Social Sciences, Manchester, UK)
This article uses interviews with committed anti-war and peace activists to offer an overview of both the benefits and challenges that social movements derive from new communication technologies. It shows contemporary political activism to be intensely informational; dependent on the sensitive adoption of a wide range of communication technologies. A hyperlink analysis is then employed to map the UK anti-war movement as it appears online. Through comparing these two sets of data it becomes possible to contrast the online practices of the UK anti-war movement with its offline 'reality'. When encountered away from the web, recent anti-war contention is grounded in national-level political realities and internally divided by its political diversity; but to the extent that experience of the movement is mediated online, it routinely transcends national and political boundaries.

Keywords: anti-war movement; Internet; email; hyperlink analysis

The role of the Internet in D/deaf people's information and communication practices
Gill Valentine; Tracey Skelton (School of Geography, University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, UK)
Communication technologies have historically isolated D/deaf and hard of hearing people from information in mainstream society, for example, the telephone, radio, and television are all inaccessible to D/deaf without relay services or subtitles. This paper therefore begins by examining the consequences for D/deaf people's personal information landscapes of their exclusion from traditional off-line Information sources. It then goes onto examine how D/deaf people are using the Internet to access general and Deaf information sources, and how these practices are affecting their information capacities, and social relations. The paper concludes by reflecting on some of the constraints on Deaf people's abilities to make full and effective use of this information and communication resource and the complex, and sometimes paradoxical roles, the Internet plays in relation to D/deaf people's integration in hearing society. It important to know more about how the Internet is currently benefiting/failing to meet the needs of this group in order to further develop appropriate information resources and services for D/deaf people.

Keywords: Deaf people; disability; Internet; integration; exclusion

An explorative study with social network analysis
Manuela Caiani; Claudius Wagemann (European University Institute, Italy)
This article applies instruments of social network analysis to a study of communication networks within the Italian and German extremist right. Web links between organizational websites are used as a proxy. Indeed, extremist groups increasingly use and abuse the Internet for their propaganda and their recruitment, and also for their internal communication. The analysis includes both political parties and non-party organizations, even violent groups. In a macro-, micro-, and meso-analysis, the various specificities of the two national political sectors are demonstrated and linked to the offline reality. The Italian network appears to be very fragmented, highly diversified, and difficult to be coordinated ('policephalous network'), whereas the German network is denser and much more concentrated on a few central actors ('star structure'). These differences are mainly due to political opportunity structures in the two countries. Additionally, whereas the Italian network structure allows for the construction of a typology of sub-groups of organizations, the German communicative structure seems to be more erratic and less coordinated. The article also highlights the function of websites which are not related to any specific group. Indeed, these are of special importance for the far right as a political arena which is usually banned from the dominant societal discourses (if not even legally forbidden). Considering this, new modes of communication can be of greater use for extremist groups than for more traditional political actors.

Keywords: network analysis; right-wing extremism; communication networks; political violence; radicalization

Power, influence and the capture of a policy domain in the UK
Ivan Horrocks (Department of Communication and Systems, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, UK)
This paper argues that as e-government has increasingly come to dominate the policy agenda for the delivery of public services it has simultaneously acted as a fundamental mechanism for increasing the power and influence of 'experts': i.e. the IT consultancy industry and its supporters within government and public services. The result is the emergence of a power loop in which consultants occupy influential positions in government and public policy circles and then act as powerful agents in promoting the development of both e-government 'solutions' and the technology and expertise these require to 'deliver' the promised outcomes. This creates further opportunities for shaping and controlling e-government policy and for more 'experts' to enter the e-government environment, thus increasing the power and influence of the 'consultocracy'. The loop is thus self-perpetuating and, more importantly, enduring, due to the ideological and cultural environment that surrounds and underpins it. The paper concludes by arguing that while it was, and remains, the case that there are legitimate reasons why the consultancy industry has a role in government and public services, the extent of the power and influence of the industry and its supporters in the e-government policy domain, and over the technological capability on which e-government depends, poses significant questions as to whose interests the industry best serves. Furthermore, whether this is detrimental to the development of best value/cost effective systems to deliver public services, and whether the basis and extent of these relations undermines the credibility and legitimacy of the policy process, and thus of democratic governance generally, remains an open question.

Keywords: e-government; power; policy-making; IT and management consultants; the politics of technology


Umberto Eco and a semiotic approach to digital communication
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Carlos Scolari (Universitat de Vic, Grup de Recerca d'Interaccions Digitals (GRID), Vic, Spain)
The objective of this article is to review a series of semiotic contributions to the new media, computer-mediated communication and human-computer interaction research, centring on the works of Umberto Eco. This well-known Italian professor and fiction writer is one of the pioneers of the debate on hypertext and an active interlocutor in discussions on the future of the book. Researchers interested in digital textualities, computer-mediated communication and human-computer interaction have also applied Eco's theories. This article maps the connections between Eco's semiotic and digital field discussions.

Keywords: Umberto Eco; semiotics; hypertext; interface; interaction

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