Berkeley Center for the Information Society
(BCIS)


Sep 18, 2003
4.00 PM, 107 South Hall

Finding the Rainbow Connection: Government Regulation and Access to ICTs in South Africa
Jennifer L. Bussell
Doctoral Student, Department of Political Science

A significant disparity continues to exist in countries' and individuals' access to information and communication technologies (ICTs). While there are a number of potential reasons for these gaps, this paper argues that an analysis of the regulatory structure in a given country can provide significant leverage in understanding the logic behind the ways in which people access and use these technologies. Using a political economy framework, I analyze the South African case to show how a regulatory environment dominated by a partially-privatized monopoly telecommunications provider, a disjointed and sometimes conflicting set of regulatory institutions, and an education and training sector that is not yet fully satisfying the learning needs of South African citizens have led to an environment generally characterized by stifled innovation and expensive, poor quality access for both corporations and individuals, in particular African (black) rural communities. This case in turn provides us with an example for better understanding the link between regulatory environments and peoples' access to and use of ICTs.
 
 

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Oct 2, 2003
4.00 PM, 107 South Hall

The Prospects and Pitfalls of Information Technology-Driven Development Strategies and Assistance
Naazneen Barma
Doctoral Student, Department of Political Science

The digital divide between industrialized and developing countries has become one of the central features of the international political economy. While it threatens to exacerbate existing global inequalities, information technology itself presents enormous possibilities for countries to hasten along development paths. In this paper, I explore the ways in which information technologies (ITs) can impact developmental outcomes. I argue that analytic approaches concerning IT-driven development strategies and assistance have often glossed over two central issues: (1) the multiple and sometimes conflicting motivations of developing countries for IT adoption and diffusion; and (2) the political, economic, and social context in which IT operates, and the institutional and human capacity necessary to facilitate its use. I conclude by considering whether particular information technologies, such as open source and free software (OSFS), for example, may have the potential to transform incentives and institutions. If this is indeed the case, development policies – both government- and donor-led – focused on IT use and diffusion may be able to overcome many of the usual pitfalls encountered by more traditional development strategies, as long at they frontally address the broader contextual issues. Such an approach recognizes that information technologies, rather than end products themselves, are a mechanism for development through wider social processes that are anchored in local needs and aimed at achieving diverse objectives.
 
 

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Oct 16, 2003
4.00 PM, 107 South Hall

Ubiquitous Computing and Privacy in the Workplace: A Case study of Nurse Locator Badges at Eden Medical Center
Mahad Ibrahim
Doctoral Student, School of Information Management and Systems

Privacy in the workplace is a growing concern heightened by the development of ubiquitous computing technologies. What is ubiquitous computing? Ubiquitous computing, “It is invisible, everywhere computing that does not live on a personal device of any sort, but is in the woodwork everywhere.” How do we reduce risks to privacy, yet allow the goals of ubicomp systems to be accomplished? In order to solve this problem it is crucial to better understand the dynamics of workplace privacy concerns with respect to ubicomp systems. In order to increase our understanding, we are conducting a study of Eden Medical Center, in particular their experiences related to a recently deployed Nurse Locator badge system. The goal of this study is to understand three areas related to UbiComp and workplace privay 1) Linguistics and conceptions of privacy 2)Users understanding of the technology 3)Cost and Benefits of the technology.
 
 

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October 30, 2003
4.00 PM, 107 South Hall

The Design and Operation of Ubiquitous-Level PublicTransit Services for the San Francisco Bay Area
Alfred Round
Doctoral Student, Department of City and Regional Planning

Our dependence on the automobile has profound negative impacts including traffic congestion, air pollution, contribution to global warming, land scarcity, and over 40,000 annual fatalities in the US. The fundamental advantage of the private car is that it takes you directly from point A to point B at your desired time of travel; that is, it is an inherently demand-responsive mode. By contrast, public transit in all US cities is fixed-route and fixed-schedule. There exist private transportation services, such as airport shuttles, that do have this demand-responsive characteristic of cars. A number of pilot projects for demand-responsive public transit were implemented in the 1970s and 1980s. While popular with passengers, these transit operations proved highly cost-ineffective. However, the advent of computer and communications technologies since the 1990s (including the Internet and cell phone text-messaging) has reduced the technological cost of demand-responsive service by orders of magnitude.

This talk will present a framework for the design, simulation, and evaluation of door-to-door, demand-responsive, general public transit services, using BART and the San Francisco Bay Area freeway system as network backbones. Estimates are calculated for the on-board passenger times and operating costs of these services, and compared to those of the current transportation system. In particular, the relevance of these results to low-income Bay Area residents, whose relative reliance on transit constrains their access to potential job sites, will be discussed.
 
 

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November 6, 2003
4.00 PM, 107 South Hall

Weaving the Authoritarian Web: Liberalization, Bureaucratization, and the Internet in Non-Democratic Regimes
Taylor C. Boas
Doctoral Student, Department of Political Science

In this paper I argue that, contrary to early claims about the Internet in authoritarian regimes, this technology does not represent an inherently liberal sphere of communication. Rather, authoritarian governments can exert quite effective control over use of the Internet by manipulating the architecture of this flexible technology and by leveraging laws, social norms, and market conditions in ways that significantly raise the cost of unfettered Internet access. However, while diffusion of the Internet in authoritarian regimes does not constitute an automatic extension of civil liberties, this technology may well prove to be an important tool for promoting another type of political reform: bureaucratization. In countries where rampant corruption threatens the effectiveness of public administration and the legitimacy of authoritarian rule, leaders who prevent use of the Internet to challenge their monopoly on power may nonetheless use the technology to promote greater accountability in the exercise of power. Throughout the paper I illustrate these conceptual and theoretical arguments with evidence from the cases of China and Saudi Arabia.
 
 

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November 20, 2003
4.00 PM, 107 South Hall

Networking for Social Change in California's Central Valley: Grassroots organizing efforts via information technologies.
Gerardo Sandoval
Doctoral Student, Department of City and Regional Planning

This research project analyzed both the constraints and the opportunities for community organizing in California's Central Valley through information technologies. It explored the community organizing strategies of two networks: the Central Valley Partnership and the Civic Action Network. Specifically, the study sheds light on the use of information technology in grassroots organizing efforts and how information technology contributes to the organizing of these action groups by linking and strengthening the social networks through their political organizing activities.

This seminar is co-sponsored by CITRIS. If you wish to be added to our mailing list, please email us.


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