Computing Reviews

Law, technology and policies: a complex negotiation to generate value
Cordella A., Gualdi F.  ICEEG 2019 (Proceedings of the 2019 3rd International Conference on E-commerce, E-Business and E-Government, Lyon, France,  Jun 18-21, 2019) 21-28, 2019. Type: Proceedings
Date Reviewed: 09/01/21

The profoundly worded title refers to issues that are not profoundly analyzed in the paper.

The authors discuss the presumably poor performance of a government-owned electronic market portal (relative to privately owned portals) that is focused on “increas[ing] the openness, liquidity, and efficiency” of foreclosed properties in Italy. They use website traffic data gathered using SimilarWeb (https://www.similarweb.com/).

After an excellent review of the literature on theoretical frameworks related to information and communication technologies (ICT), law (mainly law related to electronic government reforms of the public sector), and electronic market idiosyncrasies, the authors analyze the performance of the aforementioned portal. The authors correctly emphasize findings from the literature: a) “technology is not neutral towards organization and institutional arrangements”; b) “technology is shaped by social actors”; and c) deployed technological artifacts “tend to replicate, reproduce, and reinforce specific standards.”

Unfortunately, the authors neither explain what specific features of the portal express or reflect the above literature findings, nor how these (unexplained) specificities affect the law and policy related to the portal (or vice versa), which ultimately led to the poor performance of the portal and the related law/policy.

The authors correctly explain, phenomenologically speaking, the portal’s main failure: not producing “a positive network effect” for its users to increase, “to reach critical mass,” and then to continue to expand. But why this happened is not linked to possible failures in the lawmaker’s or policymaker’s apprehension of the related technology, and only attributed to poor portal design, that is, functionality, incomplete information, worst quality pictures (relative to the private sector’s portals), and so on. There is no analysis of the deep interaction (or “negotiation,” as the authors say) between law and technology, and while the paper may be of value to readers interested in the traffic behavior of government portals, it is not very helpful for those who want to deepen their understanding of the issues identified in the title.

Reviewer:  Constantin S. Chassapis Review #: CR147345

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