The editorial series ”e-Citizens: Being Human in the Digital Age” aims to explore the rich set of technologies and applications that characterise the living environment of citizens in the digital age and is intended to call attention to fundamental transformations in social organisation and structure. The main technologies and issues have been carefully described in volume one; applications devoted to e-Democracy are the core of volume two; the present volume is devoted to e-Services, encompassing: Health, Learning, Culture, Media and News. In order to introduce this volume, let us review a little bit of the history of information technology. One of the most significant changes to occur in the field of information technology over the last few decades was the implementation of real-time communication and information exchange between computers; in one word: networking. A computer was originally considered to be like Leibniz’s “monad”, an ultimate atom without windows and doors; a sealed entity. Intercommunication processes enabled external access to these monads, allowing information and data exchange between them and thus multiplying their added value; networks of computers possess expanded functionalities and services. A number of different standalone proprietary networks were gradually merged into the network of networks: The Internet. “The Internet represents one of the most successful examples of the benefits of sustained investment and commitment to research and development of information infrastructure. Beginning with the early research in packet switching, the government, industry and academia have been partners in evolving and deploying this exciting new technology.” (Leiner et al. 2003 ) Of course, one of the main drivers for Internet usage was the introduction of the hypertext transfer protocol (http), which led to birth of the World Wide Web, thanks to the contributions of Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau at CERN in 1990 and the success of Mosaic at NCSA in 1992, the first web browser. Conceived and developed by “end-users”, one of the most important characteristics of the Web community, in the first two or three years of its life, was the bottom-up decision mechanism it employed. Enhancements and extensions were proposed, discussed and implemented mainly by active members of the community of researchers and experts involved in the process. The Web community at that time was a mixture of ICT experts and scientific content managers. The double role of these prosumers was probably one of the key innovative aspects of that community during that period. The subsequent gradual drift from technology developers to general users is a natural process that often occurs with mature technologies. It happened, for instance, in the field of computer graphics, where computer graphics pioneers worked side-by-side with creative people and special effects (fx) designers. The development of Internet technology unleashed creative energies, the first generations of web sites, mainly due to volunteers often not belonging to the IT sector; don’t forget that the cradle of the Web was CERN, the temple of physics and subatomic particles. Web technology was for sure an enabling technology, offering to almost everyone the opportunity to contribute to the creation of the textual and, later on, visual cyberspace. The Internet has incredibly facilitated access to mass communication. This influenced even news and journalism as we will describe later. It combines a worldwide broadcasting capability with a mechanism for information dissemination, which offers us the opportunity to reach a wide audience with minimal effort. Before the Internet, the only way to reach wide audiences was radio and television broadcasting, and before those were invented, mainly printed materials or heralds. In addition, it is a medium that encourages collaborations and interactions between individuals and their computers almost without regard for geographic location. After the “publishing” hangover, it was the time to manage and structure and index this blob of content and upgrade from information provision to service provision. ICT-based innovation “is not only a matter of technology”. The main aim of this work is to bridge the gap between technological solutions and successful implementation and fruitful utilisation of the main set of e-Services. Different parameters are actively influencing e-Services success or failure: cultural aspects, organisational issues, bureaucracy and workflow, infrastructure and technology in general, users’ habits, literacy, capacity or merely interaction design. This requires: having a significant population of citizens willing and able to adopt and use online services; and developing the managerial and technical capability to implement applications to meet the needs of citizens. A selection of success stories and failures, duly commented on, will help the reader in identifying the right approach to innovation in governmental and private e-Services.

e-Services: Toward a New Model of (Inter)active Community

Alfredo Ronchi
2018

Abstract

The editorial series ”e-Citizens: Being Human in the Digital Age” aims to explore the rich set of technologies and applications that characterise the living environment of citizens in the digital age and is intended to call attention to fundamental transformations in social organisation and structure. The main technologies and issues have been carefully described in volume one; applications devoted to e-Democracy are the core of volume two; the present volume is devoted to e-Services, encompassing: Health, Learning, Culture, Media and News. In order to introduce this volume, let us review a little bit of the history of information technology. One of the most significant changes to occur in the field of information technology over the last few decades was the implementation of real-time communication and information exchange between computers; in one word: networking. A computer was originally considered to be like Leibniz’s “monad”, an ultimate atom without windows and doors; a sealed entity. Intercommunication processes enabled external access to these monads, allowing information and data exchange between them and thus multiplying their added value; networks of computers possess expanded functionalities and services. A number of different standalone proprietary networks were gradually merged into the network of networks: The Internet. “The Internet represents one of the most successful examples of the benefits of sustained investment and commitment to research and development of information infrastructure. Beginning with the early research in packet switching, the government, industry and academia have been partners in evolving and deploying this exciting new technology.” (Leiner et al. 2003 ) Of course, one of the main drivers for Internet usage was the introduction of the hypertext transfer protocol (http), which led to birth of the World Wide Web, thanks to the contributions of Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau at CERN in 1990 and the success of Mosaic at NCSA in 1992, the first web browser. Conceived and developed by “end-users”, one of the most important characteristics of the Web community, in the first two or three years of its life, was the bottom-up decision mechanism it employed. Enhancements and extensions were proposed, discussed and implemented mainly by active members of the community of researchers and experts involved in the process. The Web community at that time was a mixture of ICT experts and scientific content managers. The double role of these prosumers was probably one of the key innovative aspects of that community during that period. The subsequent gradual drift from technology developers to general users is a natural process that often occurs with mature technologies. It happened, for instance, in the field of computer graphics, where computer graphics pioneers worked side-by-side with creative people and special effects (fx) designers. The development of Internet technology unleashed creative energies, the first generations of web sites, mainly due to volunteers often not belonging to the IT sector; don’t forget that the cradle of the Web was CERN, the temple of physics and subatomic particles. Web technology was for sure an enabling technology, offering to almost everyone the opportunity to contribute to the creation of the textual and, later on, visual cyberspace. The Internet has incredibly facilitated access to mass communication. This influenced even news and journalism as we will describe later. It combines a worldwide broadcasting capability with a mechanism for information dissemination, which offers us the opportunity to reach a wide audience with minimal effort. Before the Internet, the only way to reach wide audiences was radio and television broadcasting, and before those were invented, mainly printed materials or heralds. In addition, it is a medium that encourages collaborations and interactions between individuals and their computers almost without regard for geographic location. After the “publishing” hangover, it was the time to manage and structure and index this blob of content and upgrade from information provision to service provision. ICT-based innovation “is not only a matter of technology”. The main aim of this work is to bridge the gap between technological solutions and successful implementation and fruitful utilisation of the main set of e-Services. Different parameters are actively influencing e-Services success or failure: cultural aspects, organisational issues, bureaucracy and workflow, infrastructure and technology in general, users’ habits, literacy, capacity or merely interaction design. This requires: having a significant population of citizens willing and able to adopt and use online services; and developing the managerial and technical capability to implement applications to meet the needs of citizens. A selection of success stories and failures, duly commented on, will help the reader in identifying the right approach to innovation in governmental and private e-Services.
Springer Heidelberg
978-3-030-01842-9
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