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Uber and Airbnb make the rules now — but to whose benefit?

Ride-hailing app Uber is close to replacing government-licensed taxis in some cities, while Airbnb’s accommodation rental platform has become a serious competitor to government-regulated hotel markets. Many other apps and platforms are trying to do the same in other sectors of the economy. In my previous post, I argued that platforms can be viewed in […]

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Why are citizens migrating to Uber and Airbnb, and what should governments do about it?

Cars were smashed and tires burned in France last month in protests against the ride hailing app Uber. Less violent protests have also been staged against Airbnb, a platform for renting short-term accommodation. Despite the protests, neither platform shows any signs of faltering. Uber says it has a million users in France, and is available […]

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Will digital innovation disintermediate banking — and can regulatory frameworks keep up?

Many of Europe’s economies are hampered by a waning number of innovations, partially attributable to the European financial system’s aversion to funding innovative enterprises and initiatives. Pēteris Zilgalvis discusses his recent Policy & Internet article The Need for an Innovation Principle in Regulatory Impact Assessment: The Case of Finance and Innovation in Europe (2014 6,4), which argues for the adoption of an “innovation principle” in regulatory impact assessment that prioritizes regulatory approaches that serve to promote innovation.

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Gender gaps in virtual economies: are there virtual ‘pink’ and ‘blue’ collar occupations?

Determinants of economic wellbeing have long been investigated from many angles in the social sciences: a key finding that is consistent across economies and time periods is that women tend to earn less income and hold less wealth than men. But what about in online (virtual) economies? OII Research Fellow Vili Lehdonvirta discusses how by looking at player gender and character gender separately, we can distinguish between “being” female and “appearing to be” female, and see how they are related to economic outcomes. His article (with R.A.Ratan, T.L.Kennedy, and D.Williams) Pink and Blue Pixel$: Gender and Economic Disparity in Two Massive Online Games, is published in The Information Society 30 (4) 243-255.

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Broadband may be East Africa’s 21st century railway to the world

The excitement over the potentially transformative effects of the internet in low-income countries is nowhere more evident than in East Africa. Reposted from The Conversation. The excitement over the potentially transformative effects of the internet in low-income countries is nowhere more evident than in East Africa – the last major populated region of the world […]

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Investigating virtual production networks in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia

What effects will the emergence of new and transformative ‘virtual’ economic activities and work (such as ‘microwork’ and ‘game labour’) have on social and economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia? Mark Graham, PI of a project on Microwork and Virtual Production Networks in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia discusses the question of how to discover who is benefitting, what difference remaining barriers and positionalities in SSA and SEA make, and ultimately what difference changing connectivities make in the world’s economic peripheries. [Read more OII work on virtual labour]

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Economics for Orcs: how can virtual world economies inform national economies and those who design them?

What can ‘real’ economies and the economists who run them learn from these virtual economies? How can a focus on social fabric — rather than just on efficiency and output –usefully inform national economies? OII Research Fellow Vili Lehdonvirta discusses his new book from MIT Press (with E.Castronova): Virtual Economies: Design and Analysis. It aims to bring virtual economies to the attention of social scientists, and secondly to help digital designers use social science and economics scholarship when designing their virtual economies.

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Is China shaping the Internet in Africa?

There are concerns that, just as Western countries have tried to promote their models of news media in Africa, China will try to export its own. However, no studies to date have proved this to be the case. Iginio Gagliardone (University of Oxford) discusses the themes of his paper “Partner, prototype or persuader? China’s renewed media engagement with Ghana”, which proposes a framework to understand Chinese engagement in the African mediasphere in terms of its original contributions, not simply as a negative of the impression left by the West.

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Staying free in a world of persuasive technologies

Technologies are increasingly being designed to change the way we think and behave. While there has been excitement recently about designing information environments to ‘nudge’ us into beneficial behaviours, are we giving enough attention to their implications for individual freedom and autonomy? When does a ‘nudge’ become a ‘push’? OII DPhil student James Williams is developing a set of ethical principles for the design of persuasive technologies.

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Catching a bus, picking up some groceries, calling home to check on the children – all simple, seemingly private activities that characterise many people’s end to the working day. Yet each of these activities leaves a data trail that enables companies, even the state, to track the most mundane aspects of our lives. Add to […]

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