Social Science Computer Review

Volume 27, No.1

Spring 2009


Table of Contents



Using e-government to reinforce government–citizen relationships: Comparing government reform in the United States and China / Jeffrey W. Seifert & Jongpil Chung 


            Abstract: A comparison of the United States and China shows that electronic government (e-government) can be used to enhance citizens’ access to government as much as government’s access to citizens. Both countries are using e-government initiatives as vehicles to improve internal efficiencies and provide better services to their citizens. However, in the case of the United States, e-government also represents an opportunity to infuse business principles into the government-citizen relationship (results-oriented government). In the case of China, e-government represents a means to bring sub-national levels of government under greater scrutiny and control of the central government, as it reinforces monopoly control over the government-ciizen relationship (transparency with security. Further comparative analysis along three dimensions suggests that while technology can play an important role in fostering the redistribution of power and encouraging interactions between governments and citizens, the notion of “government reform” carries many different connotations.


            Keywords: electronic government, e-government, government reform, administrative reform, United States, China, strategy, blueprint, citizen.


Digital piracy:  A latent class analysis  / George E. Higgins, Scott E. Wolfe,  & Melissa L. Ricketts


            Abstract:         The rates of digital piracy appear to be increasing, suggesting that additional research that uses new approaches is necessary to evaluate the problem.  Using data from undergraduate students (n=353), the present study explores actual digital piracy and intention to perform piracy using latent class analysis, develops profiles of these individuals, and provides an analysis of the differences between intentions and actual digital piracy for the groups.  The results indicate three separate classes for each form of digital piracy and different profiles for each form of piracy.  Actual piracy shows more demographic and social learning theory differences among individuals, whereas scenario-based digital piracy shows more self-control and social learning theory differences among individuals.  A cross-tab analysis shows that there are differences between the individuals that actually perform digital piracy and intention to pirate.  Research and policy implications are discussed from these findings. 


            Keywords:  Digital Piracy, Latent Class Analysis, Computer Crime


The role of social inequality in a multivariate cross-national analysis of digital divides / Christian Fuchs


            Abstract: This paper is subject to the following  research question:  Is the role of income inequality in comparison to other factors an element that influences  the digital divide? 11 variables providing data on 126 countries were  analysed using multivariate regression in order to identify which of them influence Internet usage to what extent. The used data on 126 countries refers to the year 2005. The results show that income inequality measured by the Gini coefficient is an important influencing factor besides per capita income, the degree of urbanization, and the level of democratization. The results question reductionistic digital divide approaches that analyse information inequality via focusing on a single variable (such as technology or markets). Access to ICTs is shaped by the interaction of socio-economic, political, cultural, social, and technological factors. These results cast doubt on technological determinism, economic reductionism, and linear trend projection in the digital divide debate. The digital divide is neither an economic, nor a technological issue. It is a complex societal issue and its causes are complex.


            Keywords: Digital divide, social inequality, multivariate regression analysis, social theory, international comparative assessment, global data, mathematical modelling, social policy


Evaluating behavioral change in multi-group collaboration for content publishing over the web / Charalampos Z. Patrikakis, Maria Koukouli, George K. Papadopoulos, & Alexander B. Sideridis


            Abstract: In this paper, an evaluation of the behavioral change of groups collaborating towards the production of multilingual digital content is provided, by using the data publication duration times as a proxy. In parallel, the assessment of feedback as a stimulant of social behavior in developing such systems is given. The evaluation is based on a system developed by a consortium of experts in the context of a European project towards the provision of an eServices platform on Organic Agriculture. Group behavior of the partners involved is studied and analysed using regression models for the extraction of trends and patterns, while the results of their collaboration are discussed and valuable conclusions regarding the improvement of collaborative work over the internet are presented.


            Keywords: Collaborative group work, social behavior, digital content, e-services, web services.


A social cognitive perspective on mobile communication technology use and adoption / Oscar Peters


            Abstract : This study examined the triadic relationship between expected outcomes, habit strength, and mobile communication technology use and adoption within the model of media attendance (LaRose & Eastin, 2004). Mobile phone users (N = 644) were divided into two groups using a stratified random sampling method. Respondents from group one (n = 334) were surveyed for mobile phone use, and respondents from group two (n = 310) were surveyed for the intention to adopt mobile video telephony. On the basis of structural equation analysis for the model of media attendance, the results of this study support the assumptions that: 1) mobile phone use is more likely to be explained by habit strength and 2) the intention to adopt mobile video telephony is more likely to be predicted by outcome expectations.


            Keywords: model of media attendance, mobile communication technology, social cognitive theory, media adoption, media use, habit strength, expected outcomes


Marketing segmentation through machine learning models. An approach based on customer relationship management and customer profitability accounting  / Raquel Florez-Lopeza, Juan Manuel Ramon-Jeronimo


            Abstract: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) aims to build relations with the most profitable clients by performing customer segmentation and designing appropriate marketing tools. In addition, Customer Profitability Accounting (CPA) recommends evaluating the CRM program through the combination of partial measures in a global cost benefit function. Several statistical techniques have been applied for market segmentations although the existence of large datasets reduces their effectiveness. As an alternative, decision trees are Machine Learning models which do not consider a priori hypotheses, achieve a high performance and generate logical rules clearly understood by managers. In this paper, a three-stage methodology is proposed which combines marketing feature selection, customer segmentation through univariate and oblique decision trees and a new CPA function based on marketing, data warehousing and opportunity costs linked to the analysis of different scenarios. This proposal is applied to a large insurance marketing dataset for alternative cost and price conditions showing the superiority of univariate decision trees over statistical techniques in terms of benefit, interpretability and opportunity cost; also helping managers to make decisions on CRM.


            Keyword list: Artificial Intelligence; Customer Relationship Management; Customer Profitability Accounting; Cost Benefit Analysis; Marketing.


Reports and Communications


Reflections of an online geographic information systems course based on open source software / Charles M. Schweik, Maria Fernandez, Michael P. Hamel, Prakash Kashwan, Quentin Lewis. & Alexander Stepanov


            Abstract: This report summarizes our experience offering an online introductory course on Geographic Information Systems that utilizes available free/libre and open source software (FOSS). Two primary objectives were to (1) reach students in developing countries, and (2) to help move forward the development of an “open content” GIS curriculum as part of the “Open Source Geospatial Foundation” ( educational effort. Course design, key software (QGIS, GRASS, PostGresql/PostGIS) and online delivery methods are described. Results and factors leading to a low course completion rate are discussed. Contributing factors include: (1) a for-credit versus no-credit decision; and (2) technical issues. Recommendations for others considering online offerings and for the OSGeo educational effort are provided. 


            Keywords: geographic information systems, GIS, online instruction, open source software, QGIS, Open Source Geospatial Foundation


Survey measures of web-oriented digital literacy: An update / Eszter Hargittai 


            This paper presents a test of a recently developed method for studying people’s digital literacy.  Self-reported instruments pose a risk of misreporting by respondents.  Participants in the study were presented items that are used to construct a previously established digital literacy measure interspersed with strategically developed bogus items to test how the latter measure up against the former.  The bogus terms performed the least well in the context of other items suggesting the majority of people do not make up their responses to these questions thus adding support to the utility of the formerly proposed instrument. Results also show considerable discrepency between familiarity of older Internet-related terms and newer Web-based concepts offering a more nuanced instrument for studies of users’ digital literacy.


            Keywords: digital literacy, Internet, method, measurement, self-efficacy, skill, survey, Web


What’s on Wikipedia, and what’s not…?  Assessing completeness of information / Cindy Royal & Deepina Kapila


            Abstract: The World Wide Web continues to grow closer to achieving the vision of becoming the repository of all human knowledge, as features and applications that support user-generated content become more prevalent. While improved search engines such as Google facilitate access of knowledge across the Web, some sites have increased in popularity and have attracted the attention of more Web users than others.  Wikipedia is one such site that is becoming an important resource for news and information.  It is an online information source that is increasingly used as the first, and sometimes only, stop for online encyclopedic information. Much discussion has dealt with the accuracy of information on Wikipedia. While accuracy is important, that is not what this project is measuring. Using a method employed by Tankard and Royal (2005) to judge completeness of Web content, completeness of information on Wikipedia is assessed. Some topics were covered more comprehensively than others and that predictors of these biases included recency, importance, population, and financial wealth.  Wikipedia is more a socially produced document than a value-free information source.   It reflects the viewpoints, interests, and emphases of the people who use it.


            Keywords: Wikipedia, wiki, social network, completeness of information, open source


Book Review


 Change of State: Information, Policy, and Power, by Sandra Braman / Reviewed by William Sims Bainbridge