Archive for the ‘Economics’ tag

Interdisciplinarity   no comments

Posted at 12:40 am in Economics,Sociology

Just reading Repko’s book on Interdisciplinary Research. Very interesting to consider that,’ Interdisciplinary research is a decision-making process that is heuristic, iterative, and reflexive. Each of these terms – decision-making, process, heuristic, iterative, and reflexive-requires explanation.’

I’m finding this very intriguing, especially in relation to one of our courseworks that involves outlining the process involved in searching for and (hopefully) finding material on a randomly selected question that has something to do with the web at its heart. It is interesting that although we think of searching as ‘seeking’ there is sometimes an element of filtering or of looking for material that might reinforce one’s original ideas.

Have also been reading on economics in Afghanistan, Intelligent Agents (not secret ones), hypermedia, (just discovered The Humument – an old favourite of mine is about to be released as an app) bots (including narrative bots and social bots – here’s one I made earlier) and privacy. At present these don’t strictly appear to be to do with my original question, but some of the topics keep re-presenting themselves to me and so I’m keeping an eye on them, to see if they might develop into a personal theme. Have also been reading on spimes, hyperreality and skeuomorphs, and came across this blog from Matt Jones on The Internet of Things.

Have a good introduction to Sociology (Giddens) but need to also check to see what isn’t in it, as it’s quite an old copy.

Introduction to Management 102   no comments

Posted at 5:01 pm in Uncategorized

I pick up from where I left off last week – in particular, consideration of the field of management studies from the perspective of an organization (to be managed) as an ‘open system’. This conceptualization implies that various sub-systems should be considered from a management engagement viewpoint: the internal (towards maintenance of the system) and external (towards the competitive position of the system). One of the challenges under management theory is how to balance these competing values upon management time: in particular, how to trade-off the encouragement of flexibility and change, while still retaining control to ensure employees act appropriately.

In returning to the main research focus – how the Web/Internet is changing the nature of competition between businesses – an open system emphasizes how objectives, plans and solutions must adjust rapidly to changes in the external environment. These changes can come from a variety of sources. Boddy gives examples of the increasingly global nature of the economic system at large, deregulation in certain industries, the closer integration between many different areas of business (such as telecoms and entertainment), increasing consumer expectations and computer-based information systems. Many modern-day organizations operate in non-linear systems in which small changes are amplified through many interactions with other variables so that the eventual effect is unpredictable. In other words, management decisions should be grounded in the external context in which the organization is situated and the long-term consequences of a management decision can be majorly disrupted by circumstances in the outside world in an unforeseen manner.

Boddy goes on to introduce the idea of the competitive environment (defined as “the industry-specific environment comprising the organization’s customers, suppliers and competitors” or “micro-environment”). He distinguishes it from the “general environment (defined as the “political, economical, social, technological, (natural) environment and legal factors that affect all organizations” or “macro-environment”), as illustrated below:

Together, they make up the “external environment” or “external context”. Forces in the external environment become part of an organization’s agenda when internal or external stakeholders pay attention to them and act to place them on the management agenda. In turn, these demand a response (see next week for more on management theory related to the type of response).

In terms of analyzing the competitive environment, Porter put forward a theory of five forces which most directly affect management and the ability to earn an acceptable return. These are also found in economic theory and competition law: the ability of new competitors to enter the industry, the threat of substitutable products, the bargaining power of buyers, the bargaining power of suppliers and the rivalry amongst existing competitors. This analysis can also be applied at an industry level to determine overall profitability, being factors which influence prices, costs and investment requirements, as illustrated below:

To give one example, technological change can affect the proximity of competition between products which in turn can constrain a firm’s ability to raise price (Boddy gives the example of YouTube threatening established media companies and online recruitment threatening the revenues that newspapers receive from job advertisements).

Where management differs from economics is the nature of the response. Through analyzing the forces in the competitive environment, managers aim to seize opportunities, counter threats and generally improve their position relative to their firm’s competitors in the future. Like economics, however, management also looks at trends, such as the state of the economy which is a major influence on consumer spending and capital investment plans. Sociological trends can also be relevant. For example, many consumer businesses are changing direction from a strategy aimed at mass market towards developing much small brands directed at small, distinctive groups of consumers. This reflects the growing diversity of the population, with many personal and individual preferences more apparent (such as through the Web). Again, in turn, this shift has severe implications for media that relied on advertising from mass market advertising. There are also many examples of digital technologies affecting established markets (such as DVDs, MP3s, broadband services offering delivering online content, VoIP and digital photography).

In summary, critical reflection on business environment conditions is essential to the type of management strategy adopted. Next week I turn to theories of generic management activities of planning and decision-making, including strategy and marketing (to lead into discussions of how e-marketing has revolutionized the business world).

Written by amk1g10 on November 2nd, 2011

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Markets not Stakes…   no comments

Posted at 12:00 am in Discipline,Economics

Front cover of the book referred to in this post, called 'Markets not Stakes.' Shows an eagle apparently trying and failing to fly over a map of Europe. It all looks highly symbolic but I'm not sure what of.Am now looking at a book on economics called, ‘Markets not Stakes: The Triumph of Capitalism and the Stakeholder Fallacy.’ This is written by Professor Patrick Minford and was published in 1998. He outlines why he thinks that the stakeholder culture was mistaken and how capitalism was thriving. The stakeholder concept was supposed to find the middle way between ‘failed socialism and free-market capitalism.’ The blurb discusses the way in which regulatory proposals were to create more rights for workers, allow the government to override the pull of market forces on investment in an attempt to curb the 80s short term corporate culture.

I am particularly interested in this because it would seem very easy now to say how obviously mistaken this view was. However, it goes on to say that ‘Stakeholding is no different in essence from interventionist and redistributive taxation, its only difference is its lesser transparency, which therefore deceives people into believing it to be innocuous.’ Although he then apparently goes onto argue that it destroys incentives (the meat and blood of economics, according to ‘The Armchair Economist’ ) I’m initially quite interested in the transparency issue.

When I worked for a FTSE100 company that was quite concerned about corporate governance and hence ‘transparency,’ a word which we hear all too often nowadays, the other word that was always brandished was ‘stakeholders.’ Generally the more your job was to do with explaining figures and processes to people, the more you had to take ‘stakeholders’ into account. This actually meant not just anyone who had a right of some sort (surely just one’s bosses in a monolithically hierarchical company structure?) to poke their nose into what was going on, but those who felt that they ought to have a right. Or those, like me, who were just very, very curious about how it all worked. The more stakeholders there were (in a PLC serving most of the country’s households, that was at least 18 million) actually the less possible it became to be transparent. I’m increasingly convinced that the possibility of transparency decreases exponentially in any very small company (say, 7 or fewer employees) or any company that has over say, 300 employees, just because of organisational factors. I’m also wondering whether this is not accidental, but actually deeply tied into company size (depending on its structure, or how the power gets passed around). So am quite interested to read this book and see what comes out.

Am reading it alongside ‘The Armchair Economist’ which is interesting, but is leaving me feeling vaguely unsatisfied at present.

The Pit and the Pendulum of extended and over-elaborate metaphor   no comments

Posted at 2:03 pm in Economics,Psychology,Sociology

Mors ubi dira fuit vita salusque patent.

So, to expand the first blog post a little: what I think is nagging at me is this sense of a range of ‘objects,’ of pieces of ‘knowledge-meat’, or ‘currency’, that are consumed or traded within their own disciplines. Sometimes these objects of knowledge have the same names in other subjects, but they mean different things. And across disciplines the means of making them edible, civilized, tradable can be hugely different. Traditionally these bits of ontologies, of data (they are sometimes data) are going to somehow be examined, discussed, prodded, perhaps measured: quantified or qualified in some sense. In the past this might have been described on paper. These days, some of us (perhaps not that many, globally) have the web as a means of mediating discovery and knowledge acquisition. There are many things that can be done with knowledge on the web: it can be hidden, it can be spread, it can be created, it can be pushed around. If tiny bits of data somehow fit with the tiny little pieces of the structure of the web, then one might suppose that a sort of true picture emerges. However, again, something that has nagged at me is how so much of our thinking is analogical, or metaphorical. So that true pictures are actually very hard to locate using reductionist mapping – see Wicked Problems, for example.

What I think might be part of one of the questions I want to pursue, is to do with how the web might change the analogies that are implicit or embedded within disciplines. Sometimes the process of collaboration can bring out these assumptions. Sometimes, collaboration is hugely impeded by them.

For example, one of our widely used assumptions or analogies that fascinates me, is that which describes electricity. Electricity has long been portrayed as a commodity. Walter Patterson (a physicist by trade) has written at length on this subject, in a book called, ‘Keeping the Lights On.’ The traditional picture of electricity is of something that ‘flows’ like water, and can be cut off, traded, conserved, or wasted. Entire forests have been destroyed in the pursuit of the subject of electricity and our consumption of it. Generations of schoolchildren have suffered sleepless nights, worrying (somewhat misguidedly) about global warming’s fatal pendulum hanging over the Polar Bear every time they put their heating on (along with the location of the calorie  – another rather elusive and misleading concept.)

Patterson says, “How many times have you heard or read some energy specialist refer to ‘energy production’ or ‘energy consumption’? These people are supposed to be experts. Surely they ought to know one unbreakable law, the First Law of Thermodynamics, the law of conservation of energy. No one produces energy. No one consumes energy. The amount of energy in the whole universe remains the same.”

He then goes on to describes a host of assumptions that arise incorrectly out of our making electricity a commodity to be traded, the most simple being that arising from the regulators who are allegedly looking for the best deal for the household market – a low unit price does not equal a low bill – the holy grail for the ‘consumers.’ To me, having worked with the UK’s largest energy company and, in particular, with their hard and soft data, it’s clear on a fairly elementary level that describing our relationship with electricity like this is going to cause anxiety for the ‘consumer’. It describes a selfish market. It’s all about measuring how much we use, and not the quality of our relationship with it. Too much = red, not very much = green. It’s almost a little bit childish. Imagine designing an app to somehow map our relationship with energy. It would have reds and greens, wouldn’t it?  It would be about ‘a lot’ (scolding) or ‘a little’ (caressing tone of voice- well done.) It would be great to break from this model and look at different ways of being technical about how we are with energy.

Even as I’m doing my preliminary, slightly distracted, coffee-table pre-reading, this strikes a chord with me. A book I picked up a couple  of weeks ago, written by Stephen Landsburg is called, ‘The Armchair Economist.’ (In the manner of many inhabitants of armchairs he keeps disappearing just when I want him. I’m also wondering if The Spy in the Coffee Machine can see him from the kitchen, and if so, whether they should talk. Never mind.)

The first chapter of this book starts boldly with, “Most of economics can be measured in four words: ‘People respond to incentives.’ The rest is commentary.” He then goes on to describe, or perhaps, hypothesise, how making cars more safe kills more people, as people drive more safely in more dangerous cars. Landsburg continues by saying that economics begins with the assumption that all human behaviour is rational. I’m presuming that part of the rest of the book is to decry this notion triumphantly. It is very fashionable nowadays (and seems to cause great joy for the evolutionary psychologists) to show how entirely irrational we are; however I can’t help feeling that there is sometimes a confusion in the literature between say a system of perception, or of governance that overcorrects, and the net result that that has for the movement and/or survival of its owner. (I know, feeling something isn’t really academic: it’s another question to explore.)

So, now I have economics and markets intruding a little into my original speculation about how the concepts or metaphors embedded in disciplines might be creating pictures that aren’t entirely correct. It’s certainly the case that while markets have their own language, they also trade in the languages used by the disciplines that come together to create the products or objects on sale. And now, for some of us, the sorts of things that can be traded, over the net for example, are elusive objects, which it might be worth while trying to pin down a little further. I’m worrying that some of this sounds as though I’m just talking semantics. I do intend to explore this further and show how it’s not just trivial misunderstandings, but deep ones that maybe re-cast our notion of the world to some extent.

As far as a methodology goes, my approach to research is often about contingency. Particularly interdisciplinary research. I don’t believe that using a wholly empirical, top-down filtering method is always going to work, as this assumes that there is an explicit pool of knowledge out there to be refined. My very subject matter says that this might not be the case. So, although I intend to use the traditional method, and my next step is to get my text books on economics and psychology/ sociology, and to read and annotate findings from them, I will  also read a lot of not-quite academic, coffee-table stuff that gives me a feel for whether I would be happy to say, sit and have lunch with the people who are writing. And, more immediately, I’m suffering from a nagging sense of not having figured out what the correct referencing procedure for blogging is. I’m used to using hyperlinks and checking they’re still live every now and then. Suspect I might need proper references.

I also haven’t yet drawn out my reasons for an interest in psychology, but, quickly, this is because I think that in the pursuit of truth (which should arise somewhere when looking at how subjects are affected by the web), it is is probably going to be interesting to look at what drives people to co-operate and trust each other when working together within specific subject areas that use specific ontologies that might or might not be affected by the emergence of the WWW.

I am now releasing these thoughts into the wild, where they can roam about in a  sort of purgatory of waiting for approval.

Written by me1g11 on October 25th, 2011

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Researching Distributed Currencies   no comments

Posted at 2:03 pm in Criminology,Economics

Researching Distributed Currencies.

Over the course of my time here studying Web Science, I would like to do some in depth research into distributed currencies. A distributed currency is a form of money with no centralized processor or controlling authority. At the moment there are only a handful of distributed currencies in existence, and the majority of them stem from Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a “totally” anonymous and distributed online currency. It’s similar to PayPal in that you can use it to buy things online and send/receive currency quickly and conveniently.

PayPal is the opposite of a distributed currency, it’s centralized. PayPal handle all the processing of transactions, and they are also the authority for all transactions and for this service they charge a small fee on each transaction (varying from 2% – 8% of a transaction + a fixed 20p.) If PayPal doesn’t like a transaction, it will slow it, stop it or outright take your money away (googling PayPal took my money returns over 6million results.)

A distributed currency is not centralized. The transaction processing is handled by anybody who chooses to use the currency which normally involves running some client software. Because it’s running on anybodies computer, the currency must be designed in a secure way that doesn’t allow individual clients to tamper with or reverse transactions. The implications of this are a totally unregulated currency where nobody can decide what is right or wrong.

The pro’s of this are that people can make transactions for anything they want, without the worry of their account being frozen or their transaction being blocked or slowed or outright refused by a regulatory authority like PayPal. There is no single point of failure (or corruption.) Also, there is no mandatory fee’s to use these currencies or make transactions. The open distributed nature utilizes the internet in the way it was intended. It could be argued that centralized services governed by one authority undermine the entire point of have the internet (a distributed network) in the first place.

Bitcoin is totally anonymous also. If you want to receive money, you give someone a wallet address. You can have as many wallet addresses as you want which has the end result of it being impossible to link transactions to people. However, combine anonymity, money, and no regulation or authority and sure enough, you get criminals.

Bitcoin received a lot of publicity after the launch of a website called silkroad which was described as “the Amazon marketplace of drugs” which allowed users to by all sorts of illegal items including drugs and weapons – all paid for by the anonymous distributed currency Bitcoin. As well as Silk Road for weapons and drugs, there have also been suggestions that Bitcoin is used to trade in other illicit things such as hiring bot nets, hitmen, slaves, prostitutes and more.

Because there are supposedly a large amount of criminals using Bitcoin, there is a lot of fraud. Browsing Bitcoin forums and it’s not hard to find posts of people frustrated at being scammed out of several hundred Bitcoins (the current conversion is 1btc = $3) because there is no regulatory authority to reverse fraudulent transactions.

However, that’s not to say everyone that uses Bitcoin is a criminal or that every transaction is related to an illegal item. The idea of totally free online transactions should appeal to anybody that sells online, as it could result in lower product prices for the end user.

Over the course of my research, 1 of the many aspects of distributed currencies I would like to look into is ways of making a distributed economy that is less risky to use (e.g. reducing fraud and scams, it maybe that this means reducing anonymity) but maintaining the benefits of free transactions and no single point of failure/corruption.

My 2 subjects of research

My background is in computing science, I think it would be useful for me to also have a better understanding of economics and and criminology for the aspect of research above. Why?:

Economics: wikipedia described economics as “the social science that analyses the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.” I believe a deeper understanding of this and the methods associated with economics would allow me to conduct more informed, appropriate and educated research and to account for and explain the necessity of currency, trade and economies. Specifically I would like to look into online/cyber economics as it’s important to understand the differences (if any) between how people trade online vs. in the real world and how to cater towards these differences and incorporate them into my future research.

Reading Material
I’m not sure yet, I’ve been looking for economics books relating to the web and internet but have been unsuccessful in finding any so far. If anyone has any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to put them forward!

Criminology: wikipedia describes criminology as “the scientific study of the nature extent, causes and control of criminal behaviour in both the individual and in society.” In order to protect something against crime and fraud, I believe it’s important to first understand why people commit crime and fraud in the first place. Specifically I would like to look into cyber criminology to try and get an idea of the research methods used to access and understand such a dark corner of the web. I’d like to learn if and how researchers in this area get full, truthful and honest answers from an area that is inherently full of people willing to mislead.

Reading Material
Not 100% sure on this one yet, but here’s a few ideas:

Cyber Criminology: Exploring Internet Crimes and Criminal Behaviour (2011)

“Approaching the topic from a social science perspective, the book explores methods for determining the causes of computer crime.”

Cyber Forensics and Cyber Crime: An Introduction (2008)

“It includes and exhaustive discussion of legal and social issues, fully defines computer crime…provides a comprehensive analysis of current case law, constitutional challenges and government legislation”

Written by djh2g11 on October 25th, 2011

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Economics 102   no comments

Posted at 7:55 pm in Economics

After spending the last few weeks getting to grips with the very basics of economics i’ve now looked at how the various approaches and mechanisms used by the discipline could more directly be applied to the issue i’m looking at – reputation and its value. I’ve continued to concentrate on undergrad texts, primarily Economics by Parkin, Powell and Matthews, A Course in Microeconomics Theory by Kreps and Economics by Lipsey.

As i mentioned in the last blog economics assumes that individuals act in their self interest; that is, they will do things in a way that will maximise their position according to their values. When you choose to enter into a transaction with person a as opposed to person b, you will do so because you perceive that transacting with person a will leave you in a better position than transacting with person b will. One of the considerations that may lead you to this conclusion will be the degree to which you believe person a will act with integrity, and this integrity will be externally demonstrable by their reputation.  Hence,  reputation can be considered something that affects competition, and the way in which economics deals with competition needs to be considered.

There are four market types in economics:

Perfect competition, where:

  • many parties offer identical goods to many buyers,
  • there are no restrictions on entry into the industry,
  • existing vendors have no advantage over newcomers, and
  • all parties to a transaction are well informed about the prices of products.

Monopolistic competition, where:

  • a large number of parties compete by making similar but slightly different products,
  • production differentiation gives each monopolistically competitive firm an element of monopoly power,
  • barriers to entry are limited.

Oligopoly, where:

  • a small number of firms compete, and
  • natural or legal barriers prevent the entry of new vendors to the marketplace.

Monopoly, where:

  • one firm produces a good or service for which no close substitute exists,
  • natural or legal barriers protect the firm from newcomers to the market.

With these definitions in place it would be possible to draw parallels between the different types of market and instances on the web where reputation comes into play. As a very rough example, an expert forum on Visio could be considered a Oligopoly, as people will only listen to the advice of a small number of recognised experts, and in order to be considered an expert a user must have certain qualities (such as a long and illustrious posting history). Newcomers will struggle to impose themselves.

I next looked at game theory as a way of potentially understanding how people may try and to actively enhance their online reputations. Game theory is something i’d heard about previously, particularly the prisoner’s dilemma, but i’d not really explored it sufficiently to be able to see how it might apply to the issue i’m tackling. Very briefly, it serves as a tool for studying strategic behaviour; that is, behaviour that takes into account the expected behaviour of others and the recognition of mutual interdependence. To take this back to the reputation issue, people building a reputation do not do so in a vacuum; their reputation will only benefit them if it is ‘better’ than somebody else’s. As such, those attempting to enhance their reputation may decide to act in certain ways due in part to their perception of what their competitors may be doing.

. The prisoner’s dilemma is probably the example that most people are familiar with: two criminals have been apprehended on suspicion of committing a robbery and are being held in separate cells. The police know that the two together committed the crime, but lack sufficient evidence to convict. They are each therefore offered a deal – convincingly implicate the partner. If neither implicates the other, each gets no time in jail. If each implicates the other, each receives a short amount of time in jail. If one implicates the other but is not implicated, the implicator gets off (and gets a greater share of the proceeds of the crime) and the implicated goes to jail for a longer period of time. Each ranks the four possible outcomes, with the result that it is best to implicate your partner, next best to not implicate and not be implicated, next best to implicate and be implicated and worst to not implicate but be implicated. Abstracted, this suggests that co-operation is not in one’s best interest if the other party intends to co-operate (in the prisoner example co-operating meaning co-operating with each other by not implicating each other.)

Gaining an understanding of the economic constructs of markets, competition and game theory has certainly been an interesting exercise, and i’m glad i have had the opportunity to look at them in more depth, but i still worry that the link to my issue area is a little tenuous. I believe they could certainly add something to the understanding of one type of strategy actors may pursue when attempting to enhance and capitalise on their online reputation, but just as likely people could choose to completely ignore any notion of competing with others and still gain a positive reputation. I’ve discovered a little bit on social capital, which will hopefully fill in the blanks, and will write about this next week.

Written by jac606 on November 24th, 2010

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Economics 101   no comments

Posted at 8:42 am in Economics

In order to establish whether i can look at economics in sufficient detail to make it a worthwhile exercise (in relation to the question of reputation) i’ve been focusing on that for the last ten days. Things are a bit more promising i think; provided i concentrate on the social capital side of things i’m confident i can tie everything together coherently.

I’ve been making my way through Economics by Parkin, Powell and Matthews, which i’ve found very accessible and easy to read. The authors try to illustrate reasonably complex concepts (for me they are reasonably complex, anyway) with simple analogies, the majority of which for some reason seem to include David Beckham. Below are the key things i’ve got from the first part of the book.

What is Economics? 
It is the social science that studies the choices that individuals, businesses, governments and entire societies make as they cope with scarcity and the incentives that influence and reconcile those choices.

Microeconomics & Macroeconomics
Microeconomics is the study of choices that individuals and businesses make, the way these choices interact in markets and the influence of governments. Macroeconomics studies the performance of the national and global economy.

Two Key Economic Questions
How do choices end up determining what, how and for whom goods and services get produced?
When do choices made in the pursuit of self-interest also promote the social interest?

Trade-Offs and Opportunity Cost
Trade-offs are a way of conceptualising the process of making a choice between alternatives. For example, when you choose to write your IDR blog rather than watchint the One Show you face a trade-off. By writing this blog i am (hopefully) becoming better educated and giving myself a better chance in doing well in this course, which may lead to a better career later down the line. But i am missing the One Show, so i am trading off current entertainment(?!) with my future ‘performance’.  Linked to this is opportunity cost. If i want to go and see ‘Due Date’ this weekend, the cost of the ticket will preclude me from having a pub lunch on Sunday. Therefore, the opportunity cost of seeing Due Date is the pub lunch i won’t have; that is, the pub lunch is the highest valued alternative that i would have done if i did not go to the cinema.

If i study five nights a week instead of four, and my marks go from an average of 50 to 60, the marginal benefit of that extra night’s study is the difference between my old and new average – 10%. The marginal cost of getting that extra ten percent is the night i lose socialising. In order to evaluate the benefits, i would have to establish whether the extra marks outweigh the cost of socialising less.

Human Nature and Social Interest
There is an economic assumption that humans act in their self interest; that is, they make the choices that get hte most value for them based on their values. A question the book seems very keen on addressing is when self-interested acts are alos in the social interest.

How Economics is Studied
Economics is not an experimental science, ands as such has to be studied through other means. Given that you cannot really conduct bound economic experiments in the laboratory, the book details and describes methods used to study economics. These include Observation and Measurement, Model Building and Testing Models.

I’ve been necessarily brief; there really is a lot of material that i’ve tried to distill down to the core components. Thus far it’s a rewarding task, and i feel quite comfortable with all of the concepts above although i’m fairly sure i had at least an elementary understanding of most of them. I’m going to press on with this book for the next week or so, as it has only touched on social capital and i think this will be the area that i can most strongly link back to my topic area.

Written by jac606 on November 10th, 2010

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Reputation   no comments

Posted at 4:07 pm in Economics,Psychology

I knew I wanted to look at Economics and Psychology (as I’ve always been interested in them but never really had to opportunity to ‘formally’ study them’) and have decided that I’m going to pin my research on the issue of online reputation. Although my thoughts are still rather immature at this stage, I’m really interested in how individuals in web communities can actively develop and project their reputations in order to  influence others, be in a position to set agendas or simply ‘stand out’ from the crowd. An example would be the underground extremist forum. In the absence of  a formal ‘feedback mechanism’, such as that employed by eBay, how do users become ‘leaders’? Is it simply the amount of time they spend in the forum (and their related post count), or are other, more subtle factors at play? And, if there is, is there any kind of ‘blueprint for success’ that can be developed? Alongside this i’d also like to explore how companies, who are operating in an altogether more ‘legitimate’ environment, tackle the same issue. What are their strategies for establishing online reputation with consumers, and positioning themselves as pre-eminent in their field? Are there any parallels between the forum user and the fortune 500?

While i think the  tie in with psychology is reasonably clear, the economics link is possibly somewhat more tenuous. I think exploring  the concept of social capital and its relative worth could prove fruitful in the company example, but whether or not it will have any relevance to the forum user I’m not at this stage clear. It could be the case that i have to abandon economics in favour of sociology once i get a bit further in with my reading, but for now I’m going to keep my fingers crossed i can find enough linkages to make the exploration worthwhile.

My current reading list is as such focused on economics:

Economics, Parkin, Powell & Matthews (Seventh Edition, 2008)

The Winner’s Curse: Paradoxes and Anomalies of Economic Life, Thaler, 1994

Liquid Love, Bauman, 2003

Written by jac606 on October 28th, 2010

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The Impact of the Web in Globalization and the Business Models   no comments

Posted at 10:19 pm in Economics,Sociology

Recent study is mainly focusing on the 4th version of Sociology by Giddens and also linking the economic aspect to think about the impacts of the Web in globalization; and then moving on to the part of business models which is influenced by the Web.

To understand the society, firstly we should put the eyes on the broader range of areas. Throughout the world, the multinational company became a phenomenon after World War II, and strongly promoted the process of economic globalization. Nowadays, multinational companies are considered as the core of economic globalization. Through the bridge multinational companies offered, markets and trades are linked closely between different countries. Trading information are transferring frequently from one country to another breaking the barriers of time and spaces.

However, in this globalization trend, the participants are just involving the companies or a small part of people who are conducting this business. For most people, maybe they can use the cup made in thousands miles away from their hometown, however, they have not opportunities to participate this amazing project until the Web came out. Because the main members of the society have engaged in the information global sharing activity, the globalization has been infiltrated into people’s daily lives. The Web is the main force to push and accelerate the process of globalization. The information explosion covers every detail of the lives across the world. People have the channels to obtain and publish information about what they like, what they want, what they are doing and so on. The information is mass but has intangible value inside. At that movement, BBS became a huge container to gather people of like interests. Usually, one BBS is organized by subjects, such as music, food, feeling, education and so on. Members of this BBS will around those subjects to leave their comments and reviews. For wisdom marketers, they know that better understanding of their customers is one of the best ways to gain competitive advantages. Therefore, through those BBSs, they can refine the contents and pick up the useful part for their business. (Of course, there are some issues about online fake information or advertisements, but at this stage we just assumed the number of them is quite few which can be ignored.) Unfortunately, at most situations this kind of job is heave, especially when operated manually. But the platform that presents the people’s interests throughout the world and the way to find out valuable ideas about the business and market is worth firmly.  The Web provides a creative platform to gather information generated all over the world, which is valuable for the economic globally. Google’s success can be explained by this information aggregated. They provide the accurate search results for people based on the search key words, while putting the related advertisements on the same web page. This business model helps Google gain high profit. However, this kind way of putting advertisements based on the search engines is relatively passive for the potential customers, as it needs people to search firstly and then see the related information. Therefore, the issue put in front of us is that which way will be better to get information accurately and directly and how to build a positive business model.

To be continued…

Written by ch9e09 on May 5th, 2010

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Brief for Independent Disciplinary Review   1 comment

Posted at 10:46 pm in Economics,Sociology


The Web has been always studied as a technology. The features of it usually are associated with technology invention rather than evaluating its value in the market. For example, people want to press their blogs and contribute to the Wikipedia without any money returns, which are considered as a social activity. That is true. However, how to transfer this activity into real market to make profit should be considered as well.

The issue I want to address in this module is to find out how to measure the value of user-generated content and also the valuable assets in the Semantic Web, which is one of the open questions in the economist’s view of Web Science. The Web has been changing without a break since it was released in the world. It changes from a system to publish information into a platform in which people can edit and publish their contents freely and easily. One of the reasons that bring this change within the Web is coming from Web 2.0, especially the user-generated feature of Web 2.0. Although it is the freeness and openness that promotes people to participate in the content construction with a great enthusiasm, it does not mean that the nature is to generate contents only. However, there should be a market to make these activities valuable. Consequently, how to dig out the element of economic stimulus and at the same time without losing the passion of people to build those contents is becoming a question to be studied in further researches. Moreover, the next generation Web visibly tends to be the Semantic Web which will integrate information and supply intelligent services through intelligent agents rather than artificially. The value therefore will not only come from the services, but also stay in the mechanism and the intelligences on the Web. So it is worth digging out the value of the Semantic Web and transferring it into the society and the market as well.


There are two disciplines in this research which are economics and sociology. The main focus of this research is standing in the economic point of view to measure the economic value of the Web. Therefore, it is very necessary to do research in economic aspect. Meanwhile, as economics cannot be applied without the society, it is helpful to combine the sociology with economics to get deep understanding about it. The sociology is based on the whole society to understand the structure, function and the law of development of our society through studying the social relations and social behaviors. Due to the enlarging influence of the Web, the social relations and social behaviors have been changed correspondingly. Consequently, by studying the nature of society and the changes caused by the Web, we can sufficiently to understand the society in nowadays and the development tendency, catching the insight to apply on the economic analysis.

    Current Reading List

Economics by N. Gregory Mankiw , Mark P. Taylor

This book is about the basic concept of economics. It will help to understand how the economy works in the society.

Innovation Management and New Product Development by Dr Paul Trott

It is a useful book for transferring the technology into the real market. It is also used in the innovation module to help find a suitable way to connect different disciplines from technology aspect to the management aspect. The most important part is to tell us how to apply the new technology within the real market to improve the society.

Sociology Work and Industry by Tony J. Watson

This book describes how the discipline of sociology are understood and used in industry aspect. In the book, what is sociology is explained first and then connected with the industry to give wider understanding.

Understanding Classical Sociology by John A. Hughes, Wes W.Sharrock, Peter J. Martin

Written by ch9e09 on February 19th, 2010

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