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Will China’s new national search engine, ChinaSo, fare better than  “The Little Search Engine that Couldn’t”?

Users and critics remain skeptical of state-run search engines. The 2011 launch of Jike, the Chinese state-run search engine, received a mixed response; and the jury is still out for its 2014 successor ‘SoChina’. Min Jiang and Kristen Okamoto discuss the politics and symbolism of national search engines in their article National identity, ideological apparatus, or panopticon? A case study of the Chinese national search engine Jike, published in Policy and Internet 6 (1) 89-107.

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Why does the Open Government Data agenda face such barriers?

The transformative social and economic impacts claimed by advocates of open government data still seem a rather distant possibility; and even the more modest goal of integrating the creation and use of OGD into the mainstream practices of government, businesses and citizens remains to be achieved. The Open University’s Chris Martin discusses why this might be, discussing the main findings of his article Barriers to the Open Government Data Agenda: Taking a Multi-Level Perspective, published in Policy & Internet (2014: 6,3).

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Past and Emerging Themes in Policy and Internet Studies

What kind of research does the journal Policy & Internet publish? Editor Vili Lehdonvirta approaches the question from two angles; first, by examining the question empirically, through a brief thematic analysis of the articles published since its launch in 2009; second, by considering what kind of research the journal is likely to publish in the future, both in terms of what kind of trends can be seen emerging in policy and Internet research, as well as in terms of what challenges outlined in the journal’s original vision that continue to be pertinent today. Read the full editorial.

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Unpacking patient trust in the “who” and the “how” of Internet-based health records

Digital health records create new opportunities for access and sharing, and carry the promise of reducing costs and improving quality of care across health systems worldwide. At the same time, they also cause nightmares to patients concerned about their privacy – while patient trust is key to successful adoption and use. Ulrike Rauer, author of the Policy & Internet article Patient Trust in Internet-based Health Records: An Analysis across Operator Types and Levels of Patient Involvement in Germany, takes a closer look at the structural and institutional factors influencing patient trust in Internet-based health records.

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The challenges of government use of cloud services for public service delivery

Cloud services hold the promise of rendering public service delivery and back-office operations more effective and efficient, by providing ubiquitous, on-demand access to computing resources. Beyond the compelling cost economies, cloud technology is also a promising platform for open government, interagency cooperation, and government innovation. However, Kristina Irion (Central European University and University of Amsterdam) says that what looks like an ideal match actually raises a range of unresolved issues, and national governments are faced with legal risks that would contest national data sovereignty.

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Mapping collective public opinion in the Russian blogosphere

Blogs are becoming increasingly important for agenda setting and formation of collective public opinion on a wide range of issues — particularly in countries like Russia where the Internet is not technically filtered, but where the traditional media is tightly controlled by the state. Olessia Koltsova, author (with Sergei Koltcov) of the Policy and Internet paper Mapping the public agenda with topic modeling: The case of the Russian livejournal discusses how topic modeling and sentiment analysis techniques can be used to monitor self-generated public opinion.

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Exploring variation in parental concerns about online safety issues

Widespread Internet adoption by youth has prompted concerns about the safety issues they face when they go online, such as being hurt by a stranger, being exposed to pornographic or violent content, and bullying or being bullied. danah boyd (Microsoft Research) and Eszter Hargittai (Northwestern) discuss their Policy and Internet paper Connected and concerned: Variation in parents’ online safety concerns, showing how parental concerns about online safety issues vary significantly by background—notably race and ethnicity, income, metropolitan status, and political ideology.

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Predicting elections on Twitter: a different way of thinking about the data

Recently, there has been a lot of interest in the potential of social media as a means to understand public opinion. Social media monitoring, which in theory can extract information from tweets and Facebook posts and quantify positive and negative public reactions to people, policies and events has an obvious utility for politicians seeking office. Nick Anstead (LSE) co-author with Mike Jensen (University of Canberra) of a paper “Psephological investigations: Tweets, votes, and unknown unknowns in the republican nomination process” published in Policy and Internet discusses how useful these techniques are for predicting election results, and how they might be reimagined in the future.

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How effective is online blocking of illegal child sexual content?

Blocking of ‘illegal’ websites and online content keeps raising questions in many countries. Karel Demeyer, Eva Lievens and Jos Dumortier discuss the inefficiencies and legal perils of website blocking in their Policy and Internet paper: Blocking and Removing Illegal Child Sexual Content: Analysis from a Technical and Legal Perspective. They find that blocking is a technically ineffective means of stopping the distribution of child pornography, and that it risks ‘mission creep’ if blocking measures are extended to sites that violate other laws, such as copyright or gambling.

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