Political Support Systems. Teledemocracy: Using Information. Technology to. Enhance Political. Work. By: P~I Ytterstad. Sigmund Akselsen. Gunnvsld Svendsen.
Teledemocracy: UsingInformation Technologyto Enhance Political Work
Political Support Systems
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By: P~I Ytterstad SigmundAkselsen GunnvsldSvendsen Telenor Researchand Development P.O. Box1156 N-9001 Tromse NORWAY
Richard T. Watson Departmentof Management University of Georgia Athens, GA30602-6256, USA
Abstract Norway’sTelenor Researchand Development developedand implemented~ communication systemto supportlocal politicians. Thesystem’s graphical interface makesit easy for pofiticians to makephonecalls, set up telephoneconferences, and send and receive email and faxes. An integrated documenthandler supports the exchangeof documents betweenpoliticians and local government officers. A two-yearfield trial demonstrated that the systemprovidesuseful andeffective informationtechnology supportfor local politicians. Thefield trial also providesinsights into furthering the development of teledemocracy. Keywords: Teledemocracy, interface design, graphicalinterface,local politics, telecommunications, field trial, participatoryaction research, telephony
WhyPublish in MISQ Discovery? Communication is a central activity of scholarship. It canbe significantly enhanced by using multiple mediato escapethe confines of the pagewhile enhancingscholarly communication in twoways. First, electronic publishing gives us more space, while multimedialets us moreclearly communicate with readers. Thearticle occupies morethan eight Mbytes,whereasa print journal article occupiesaround100 kbytes. A graphicaldirectory is the majorcharacteristic of the systemdiscussed.A context-sensitive maplets us demonstratethe directory’s main attributes. Thosewishing to try it out can downloaddemonstrationsoftware. Second,academicjournals typically have a small circulation, often limited to thosewith readyaccessto a researchlibrary. Usingelectronic publishing, wecan reacha muchlarger audience, manyof whomwill be from outside the domainof MISresearch. Other factors influenced our decision. The researchis a goodfit. Plus, there are many aspectsof the study that lend themselvesto multimediapresentation.For example,readers unfamiliar with Norway canlocate the research site on a map.Generally,this researchlends itself well to show-casingthe advantagesof electronicpublishing. Finally, wesaw"MISQDiscovery" as a challengeto be accepted. MISQuarterly~September 1996347