The Web Economy: Goods, Users, Models and Policies
Michalis N. Vafopoulos
National Technical University of Athens (NTUA)
April 11, 2012
Foundations and Trends® in Web Science, Forthcoming
Web has emerged as a piece of software code that has rapidly been evolved to an interdependent techno-social system of multi-purpose functionalities. From an interlinked bulleting board with low levels of interaction has become a construct of multiple interlocking contexts, incorporating a substantial part of financial transactions. Users not only post and link digital content, but also communicate, work, advertise, exchange information in and through it. The social aspects of the Web are fashioned as the ability to create contexts, and an important part of them, economic contexts. Multi-fold social and economic interactions result into a dynamic magma of moral values and code.
Web science constitutes a systematic effort to investigate the salient features and results of this magma by studying the Web as a self-standing techno-social artifact. The economic aspects of the Web are fundamental but still unexplored in this agenda.
The scope of this monograph is twofold: to analyze how the Web economy differs from traditional settings and what implications have these differences and to formalize a minimal common understanding on the subject of incentives and mechanisms in the Web economy. Accordingly, the concept of Web Goods, a classification of Web Users and the main functions of the Web economy are introduced. This effort is not, by any means, a thorough review of the economic literature related to the Web. The focus is directed on its relevant part that models the Web as a standalone economic artifact with native functionality and processes. Our approach to study goods, Users, models and policies under the Web perspective could contribute to the initiation of 'Web economics' as a field in which investigates the economic motives and implications in the Web. In particular, how we can not only obtain the right balance between open access to on line information, but also providing the proper incentives, produce content and develop network infrastructure. Moreover, how we can accelerate development by facilitating life-critical functions, transparency and participation.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 77
Keywords: web goods, web economics, net neutrality, web-based development, online self-determination
JEL Classification: L86, O39, D85, E26working papers series
Date posted: April 12, 2012
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