Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Blog Posts by Irene Wu

Clearing things up with a Cloud

October 25, 2010 - 11:23 AM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:137:height=99,width=70]]Imagine you were a reporter and wanted to compare budgets for each of the 50 states.  Or, you wanted to compare the official schedules of governors in 20 states?  Dan Oblinger, Program Manager at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration) suggests that if there were a single cloud for state and local governments, possibly supported by the federal government, the release of data to reporters and the rest of the public could be modernized and streamlined. 
Journalists say now that when they ask for government records, often they get print outs of electronic documents with black marker used to redact certain sections.  These releases can be hundreds of pages long, and completely unsearchable electronically. This is taking place in a context where newspapers are closing and reporters are being laid off.  The number of employed investigative reporters is declining and therefore there are fewer people to keep government at all levels - national, state, local - accountable to the public.
For example, suppose all states kept their birth, marriage, and death certificates and their court and police records on this single cloud.  Whatever format any single state used for its data, the cloud could provide the support to convert it into other useful formats (I understand now that this kind of conversion perhaps is often too costly for any single locality or state to support).  For the public who wanted to use these data, they could access it in a format useful to them, not just in the format the state/local government uses.

Read more »

How shopping can eliminate information asymmetries

October 13, 2010 - 03:58 PM

(Part of the ongoing WISENET Series)

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:137:height=99,width=70]]The last time I shopped for a laptop, I conducted an extensive online search.  I read articles from computer shopping magazines.  I looked at user reviews.  Then, I started comparing prices online.  I visited the manufacturer’s website.  With regret, I learned that in Hong Kong they were selling the same laptop with a fancy Vivienne Tam design which was unavailable in the US!  Finally, I found a big chain store with the best price.  I clicked through to order.  Then, a note popped up that the laptop (blue!) was in stock at the bricks and mortar store two blocks from where I live.  I reserved it online and walked down the street to pick it up.  Before online shopping, it was hard to know whether the prices in the neighborhood shops were better or worse than elsewhere.  Finding the answer cost time, energy, and money.  But, now the consumer has better access to information, there is a better balance between what the customer and the salesperson knows – the information asymmetry is mostly eliminated.  How have ICT’s eliminated information asymmetries in your experience? … In the next post of this series, collective action and the impact of ICT on society... .

Read more »

Fish, phones, and the law of one price

October 7, 2010 - 04:37 PM

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:137:height=99,width=70]]When mobile phones were introduced to a fisherfolk in Kerala, India, suddenly the surrounding markets had the same price for fish.  Before mobile phones, fishing boats didn’t know where best to bring their catch.  Maybe one day they would converge on three markets, overloading them with supply and leaving the other markets scarce of fish.  Where there was too much supply, the price of fish was low.  Where fish was scarce, the price was high.  With mobile phones, fisherfolk could call from the boat first and determine which market was best for them.  This demonstrates what economists call the law of one price.  Can you think of examples where ICT reveals the law of one price?  ….  Next time, how shopping online eliminates information asymmetries….

Reference:  “The digital provide” in Quarterly Journal of Economics, August 2007, by Robert Jensen.

Read more »
close
FCC

You are leaving the FCC website

You are about to leave the FCC website and visit a third-party, non-governmental website that the FCC does not maintain or control. The FCC does not endorse any product or service, and is not responsible for, nor can it guarantee the validity or timeliness of the content on the page you are about to visit. Additionally, the privacy policies of this third-party page may differ from those of the FCC.