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Roger Clarke's ANU EC Seminar Series

A.N.U. Department of Computer Science
ANU DCS Seminars
Electronic Commerce Seminar Series

Roger Clarke **

Version of 27 August 2012

© Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 1996-2012

Available under an AEShareNet Free
for Education licence or a Creative Commons 'Some
Rights Reserved' licence.

This document is at http://www.rogerclarke.com/EC/ANUSems.html


This series of seminars/workshops addresses topics in (mostly) electronic commerce. The early seminars were introductory in nature, with the later seminars addressing specific aspects of current interest. They're held in DCS N101.

The events are (most recent first):


What would an Open Source Library for Social Media Look Like? (24)

The presentation will be based around a working paper presented at Roskilde University in Denmark in June. Here is the slide-set.


Cyborg Rights (23)

The presentation will be based around a paper published in IEEE Technology and Society 30, 3 (Fall 2011) 49-57.

The first generation of cyborgs is alive, well, walking among us, and even running. Pacemakers, renal dialysis machines and clumsy mechanical hands may not match the movie-image of cyborg enhancements, but they have been the leading wave. The legs of sprinter Oscar Pistorius, and implants of both the cochlear and RFID varieties, make more substantial changes to individuals. They also pose a series of challenges to society as a whole.

This presentation considers how cyborgisation will give rise to demands for new rights. People who have lost capabilities but have not yet got the relevant prostheses will seek the right to have them. Some people will demand the right not just to recover what they are missing, but also to enhance themselves. Others will demand the liberty not to have prostheses imposed on them. Enhanced humans will seek additional rights to go with the additional capabilities that they have.

The political processes involved in lobbying for and resisting these desires will take many and varied forms. Professional engineers have an obligation to anticipate these developments, and to brief political, social and economic institutions on their nature, impact and implications. They have to date failed to do so. The rate of change is sufficiently brisk that action is urgent.


The Cloudy Future of Consumer Computing (22)

Consumers used to run software on their own devices and store their data at home. They are now increasingly dependent on service-providers for both functionality and data-storage. Risk assessment techniques need to be applied to consumer contexts. These are diverse, covering many kinds of consumer devices, many different consumer profiles, and various consumer needs.

A preliminary evaluation was undertaken of some key legal aspects of consumer protection. It concluded that consumers who place reliance on outsourced consumer services may be seriously exposed, because the Terms of Service of mainstream service-providers offer very low levels of assurance about features critical to consumers' interests.

Brief comments will also be made on the prospects of general-purpose computing devices ceasing to be available to consumers. The driver for this is the increasing dominance over consumer needs of the business interests of equipment suppliers and copyright-owning organisations, the demands of the moral minority to determine what everyone should be able to and not to access, and the national security extremist agenda, which mutually reinforce one another.

Here's the PrePrint of the conference paper.

Here's the slide-set.


User Requirements for Cloud Computing Architecture (21)

The literature on software architecture for cloud computing is focussed largely on the service-provider. It fails to reflect the fact that cloud computing is a form of client-server relationship. Architectures must also encompass both the software and devices that users utilise in order to invoke functions in the cloud, and intermediary functions. A further problem with analyses to date is inadequate reflection of the risks that users are subject to when they use cloud services. This paper proposes a comprehensive model that reflects user needs, and identifies implications of the model for computer scientists working in the area.

Here's a PrePrint of a conference paper.

Here's the slide-set.


An eCommerce Perspective on Carbon Trading (20)

Carbon trading has been touted as the market-based answer to global warming. The argument used to justify that position are outlined. Armed with that understanding, the nature of the tradable item is examined. Even though commodities markets are inevitably electronically supported, carbon trading appears to have attracted far more attention among investors and in the trade press than in the eCommerce literature. This presentation brings the perspective of electronic commerce theory and practice to bear on how 'carbon' is being, and might be, traded.

The slide-set is available, together with an annotations.


Big Brother Google (19)

Google is increasingly being perceived as the company that will follow IBM (1965-85) and Microsoft (1985-2005) in dominating the IT industry. This presentation will outline the many business lines that Google is endeavouring to build, and then focus on what has become the major part of its business - knowing a lot about people.

The abstract and supporting references are available. The supporting slide-set is available (5MB).


Web 2.0 - Tsunami or Mirage? (18)

There's considerable excitement about the notion of 'Web 2.0', particularly among Internet businesspeople. In contrast, there's an almost complete lack of formal literature on the topic. Movements with such energy and potential need to be subjected to critical attention. Industry and social commentators should have the opportunity to draw on the information systems literature in formulating their views. This paper performs a tentative assessment of Web 2.0, with a view to stimulating further work that applies existing theories, proposes new ones, observes and measures phenomena, and tests the theories. In order to do so, it examines the origins of Web 2.0 in the marketing arena, followed by its technical under-pinnings, and then considers the alternative, communitarian perspective.

The supporting slide-set is available.

The presentation draws heavily on a working paper of the same name.


Plagiarism by Academics: More Complex Than It Seems (17)

We impose sanctions on our students for doing it; but we seldom reflect on how much we do it ourselves.

Plagiarism is reviewed, as railed against, and as widely practised, in art, commerce and academe. The justifications are presented for perceiving plagiarism to be evil, and so are the counter-arguments. Reference is provided to the formal definition that is applicable to Australian academics. A case study is recounted of an investigation conducted for an Australian university. Finally, a proposal is presented on how to evaluate accusations of plagiarism.

The supporting slide-set is available.

The underlying paper provides guidance on how to avoid plagiarism, and is accordingly suggested as compulsory reading for postgraduate candidates:

Clarke R. 'Plagiarism by Academics: More Complex Than It Seems' J. Assoc. Infor. Syst. 7, 2 (February 2006)

The article is openly accessible in both a preprint version with hotlinks to cited references, and a postprint version.


P2P Technology and Its Implications (16)

Conventional client-server architecture has a number of technical deficiencies. In the new context of vast numbers of widely-dispersed, powerful and well-connected devices, an alternative architecture has emerged, which overcomes many of the weaknesses of client-server.

Although it has many potential applications, peer-to-peer architecture has been much-used as a means of reticulating audio and video files, with much of the copying being in breach of the ever-increasing basket of rights that make up copyright.

This presentation focusses initially on P2P architecture, its features, and its applications. It suggests areas in which research is needed. It also identifies issues arising from its use, particularly those that have enraged large corporations whose revenues and profits are dependent on their control over copyright materials.

The slide-set is available at P2P-Pol-0508.ppt.

The presentation draws on the following:

Clarke R. (2006) 'P2P's Significance for eBusiness: Towards a Research Agenda' Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research 1, 3 (December 2006) 42 - 57


Open Content Licensing (15)

The debate about 'free' and 'open' versus 'proprietary' and 'closed' was first engaged in the context of software. But the digital era has also highlighted the need for an appreciation of competing interests in many other kinds of works.Conventional, proprietary approaches are well-established, and large publishers are intent on defending them against the depradations wrought by the digital era. Despite some early successes, it seems unlikely that the copyright supremacists will hold sway for much longer. On the other hand, it is unlikely (and undesirable) that copyright will simply collapse. Publishers need to adapt their thinking and their business models forward into the twenty-first century.

The open content approach can be easily depicted as a communitarian movement, whose values are antithetical to the closed approach and to for-profit business and even economics. But open models are demonstrably not as naive and anti-business as the proponents of greatly strengthened copyright laws and patent practice would like to believe.

The primary examples of open content copyright licences are in the areas of legislation and court judgements, education and training materials, software documentation, creative and literary works, and research papers. By identifying and examining those licences, it is possible to appreciate the kinds of business models that they can support, and to delineate the decisions that need to be made by the originator of a work when structuring the terms of an open copyright licence.

The final segment of the presentation addresses a quite specific kind of content: preprints of research papers. A set of requirements for a copyright licence for so-called 'eprints' is proposed. This is presented in a separate set of notes.

The slide-set is now available.

The presentation draws on the following:

Declaration: The presenter is Board Chair of AEShareNet Limited, a Ministerial company active in copyright licensing, particularly in the Australian education sector. The company provides a variety of open content licences, and recently launched the Free for Education (FfE) licence.

This has a special mark associated with it: Free
for Education


eBusiness Models: Lessons from Open Source and Its Enemies (14)

The term 'business model' has many interpretations. During the dot.com era, novel business models were postulated. Most of them came down to the proposition that profits would eventually emerge as a result of having dominant market-share in a vaguely described but (trust me) emergent market. In the current, more sceptical times, investors demand an answer to the question 'Who pays what, to whom, and why?'.

There are many possible answers to each of the four sub-questions. This presentation investigates the extent to which the open source movement may have been inventing new answers, or at least evidencing the feasibility of some of the more obscure and often-overlooked answers. Lessons may also be learnt from the counter-attack being undertaken by the intellectual property supremacists. To make sense of these diverse ideas, a detour is needed into a couple of aspects of economics that a lot of economists seem to have difficulty with.

The presentation draws heavily on a paper of a similar name presented at the 17th International Electronic Commerce Conference, in Bled, Slovenia, in June 2004.

The slide-set is now available.

Right on cue, Cringely has published a brilliantly clear article:

And the SMH's Economics Editor has demonstrated that the submissions made to parliamentary committees about the US-imposed FTA have made sense to him at least:


An Information Systems Perspective on Computer Science Research Methods (13)

The discipline of computer science has well-established research traditions. But a meta-literature that explains and discusses computer science research methods is difficult to find.

The rather younger information systems discipline has worked very hard to build up a literature on research methods, and has drawn heavily on the social sciences in doing so.

This seminar presents a brisk overview of research traditions within the social sciences, and then attempts a taxonomy of research methods in computer science. It is hoped that this might result in discussions within the Department, and the discovery of some literature on the topic.

The PowerPoint slides to support the presentation are at http://www.rogerclarke.com/Res/ResCS030319.ppt.

Two resources underlying the presentation are:


Towards a Public Key Infrastructure That Actually Works (12)

In November 1998, I presented some problems with conventional PKI. In June 2001 I presented a consolidation of ' The Fundamental Inadequacies of Conventional Public Key Infrastructure' at a European Conference.

This presentation commences by summarising those inadequacies. It then leverages off the model of authentication presented in the previous Seminar, in order to define requirements for a PKI that will provide effective support for e-business. It concludes by evaluating a couple of alternatives to X.509v3 schemes, viz. SPKI/SDSI and Brandsian Private Credentials.


A New Model of Authentication to Support e-Business (11)

It has been conventional for some years to presume that e-commerce is dependent upon the parties to transactions being identified, and their identities authenticated. This paper examines the concepts of identification and authentication as they apply to people and organisations. It suggests that many of the conventional presumptions are misguided, and presents a model and definitions that it is argued will lay the appropriate foundation.

This presentation was first given at a U.S. National Academy of Sciences Symposium on 'Authentication Technologies and Their Implications for Privacy', in Washington DC on 3 October. The draft paper is available.


e-Business Technology and Education: Virtual Universities, Virtual Professors (10)

It's clear that the technologies that are changing business can be applied to tertiary teaching as well. But in order to apply the tools effectively, there's a need for wholesale change in the philosophies underlying university education. This presentation examines aspects of the rapidly emerging virtual university. It looks at the techniques of virtual professorship, and suggests elements of a theory of e-Education.

The presentation was first given at the University of Linz in Austria on 30 June. The presentation slides and notes (in Mac PowerPoint 4.0) are available for download.


Research Methods in Electronic Commerce (9)

The research domain of electronic commerce is particularly challenging, because of the lack of established definitions, and the high volatility of the phenomena. The urgent need for quality information presents a classic case of the need for instrumentalist research, which pursues outcomes of relevance to practitioners of the discipline, subject to the constraint of achieving sufficient rigour.

This seminar provides background in multiple research traditions, with particular attention paid to 'conventional scientific approaches'. It outlines particular research techniques, considers factors that determine the quality of research, and culminates in suggestions of appropriate (and inappropriate) techniques for particular kinds of EC research.

This presentation draws on a paper developed cumulatively over the last decade, and intended for submission to the Int'l J. of Electronic Commerce. The presentation slides (in Mac PowerPoint 4.0) can be downloaded.


Electronic Trading in Copyright Objects (8)

Copyright law creates ownership rights in works of various kinds, and confers on the owner exclusive rights such as to reproduce the work, to publish it, to perform it in public, to broadcast it, and to adapt it. This presentation commences with a brief tutorial on copyright, followed by an assessment of how it applies to digital objects (mostly pretty badly ...).

It then considers the elements needed in order to support convenient marketplaces in digital objects, such as documents, images, software, music and video/filums/movies. It's not easy to establish marketplaces if people can readily appropriate the relevant objects without paying for them. So consideration is then given to the kinds of technologies that can prevent, or at least detect or enable investigation of, breaches of copyright.

If that hasn't already exhausted the time available, it would be nice to go into the implications of all of this. On the one hand, the clash between the digital world and copyright-owners' desire for revenue might be resolved by the death of the power of publishers, new business models, and greater public freedom to access information than has ever been enjoyed before. On the other hand, the fightback by publishers to protect their interests could result in current freedoms to access information being severely curtailed.

We might also look into the interests of the university as a whole, and of individual academics in particular. In the new context of virtual universities, net-accessible teaching materials, and e-preprints and e-journals, there's a need to protect one's own work, and to avoid breaching other people's rights (or at least to avoid being sued by them); but there's also a need to continue to have access to the information necessary to underpin teaching and research activities.

The presentation draws on a paper presented at the CAUSE conference in Sydney in June, co-authored with Dr Gillian Dempsey, sometime of the ANU's Department of Commerce, but now in the Faculty of Law at the University of Queensland.


Public Key Infrastructure (7)

Public key cryptography embodies the capacity to 'sign' bit-streams with digital signatures, which can satisfy the requirements of message content security (often misleadingly referred to as 'confidentiality'), message content integrity, authentication and non-repudiation.

Implementing digital signature technology has turned out to require a substantial infrastructure. The process of agreeing on an architecture for that infrastructure has unearthed technical challenges, a fundamental philosophical difficulty (of the form 'is there a god?'), and substantial public policy issues.

This seminar will provide a brief introduction to the area, and surface the key difficulties confronting deployment of digital signature technology. If you're familiar with the area, and want the details, go directly to my PKI Position Statement.

The following are tutorial materials on crypto generally, incl. public key infrastructure matters:

The following provides background to the general crypto debates:

The following documents are directly relevant to the seminar:


Internet Forensics (6)

One of the many factors that determine the level of trust in electronic commerce services is the extent to which prior electronic acts can be investigated, and evidence gathered that is acceptable, and convincing, in a court of law.

During the last few months, I've been invited to present papers investigating the technical feasibility of regulating crime in general, and illegal gambling in particular, in the Internet context. This seminar presents the findings and arguments that arose from that work.

The following documents are relevant:


Privacy and Internet Consumerism (5)

Internet commerce will only attract consumers if public confidence exists. That depends on people being satisfied about the security of funds flows, consumer rights issues (such as the reliability of delivery and the availability of remedies for breaches by suppliers), and the handling of personal data.

This seminar catalogues the privacy issues arising in the context of the Internet, and identifies both specific and generic measures available to protect against undue intrusions. It is argued that organisations and regulatory regimes need to mature quickly if the promise of Internet commerce is to be fulfilled/exploited.

A paper on the topic, supported by several subsidiary documents, was presented at the IBC 1997 Australian Privacy Forum in Sydney, on 21-22 October 1997.


Electronic Publishing (4)

This seminar presents a definition and models of the business process, the business, and the maturation path, of electronic publishing.

It does this not from the perspective of the conventional book-publishing industry, but by drawing on the insights of electronic commerce theory and practice.

A paper on the topic is being presented at the 10th International Electronic Commerce Conference, in Bled, Slovenia, on 11 June 1997.


Net-Based Payment Mechanisms (3)

Direct, (adequately) secure payment over the Internet has been all the rage for some time now. There are many (proto-)products, and many issues arising from their (potential) use, but there's far more hype and confusion than calm analysis.

This seminar/workshop will present and classify the various designs, and identify and outline the key technical, business and other issues.

There will not be a formal paper, but some relevant pre-reading is available, in relation to both the kinds of products that are emerging, and the issues. In addition, a draft classification is available.


Applications of Smart Cards (2)

Smart Cards have been around for a long time, but are only now making real inroads into the marketplace. There are five stored-value card (SVC) pilots currently in operation that are directly relevant to Australia. This presentation will accordingly concentrate on SVCs, but will consider other applications, especially those that can be gainfully linked to SVCs.

The author has recently published a major monograph on applications of chip-cards in financial services, and contributed to another.


Overview of Electronic Commerce (1)

'Electronic Commerce' (EC) is a term that has been used for the last several years to refer to the use of electronic tools, especially over networks, to support the doing of business, and especially the sale and purchase of goods and services.

The first purpose of this seminar/workshop is to provide an overview of EC as it is understood by businesspeople. This will concentrate on applications in purchasing by corporations and by consumers, including directories and catalogues, negotiations, unstructured and structured electronic communications, and electronic funds transfers. Examples will be given both from the pre-Internet world (yes, it still exists!), from the Internet generally, and from current project-work, particularly in the public sector.

The second purpose is to assess what needs can be addressed by existing techniques, what research problems are worth investigating, and what kinds of opportunities exist for collaboration between computer science researchers and business.

Admittedly it comes at a bad time for students, but there may be benefits in making the session available to selected final year undergraduates as well as postgraduate candidates.

There will not be a formal paper, but some relevant pre-reading is available.


Author Affiliations

From 1984-95, Roger Clarke was Reader in Information Systems in ANU's then Department of Commerce. Since then he's been back in full-time consultancy through his company, Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd. He focuses on strategic and policy aspects of eBusiness, information infrastructure and dataveillance and privacy.

He has retained his connections with academe as a Visiting Fellow in the ANU Department of Computer Science (1995-2005) and as an Adjunct Professor (2005-).

He is also a Visiting Professor in Cyberspace Law & Policy at UNSW (2003-). He has also undertaken a Visiting Professorship in eCommerce at the University of Hong Kong (2002-08), and Gastprofessur at the Universities of Bern (Switzerland) and Linz (Austria). He has been a Gastdozent at the European Business School and the University of Koblenz (both in Germany).

Additional details are available, should you really find bios all that interesting ...



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The content and infrastructure for these community service pages are provided by Roger Clarke through his consultancy company, Xamax.

From the site's beginnings in August 1994 until February 2009, the infrastructure was provided by the Australian National University. During that time, the site accumulated close to 30 million hits. It passed 50 million in early 2015.

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Created: 8 October 1996 - Last Amended: 27 August 2012 by Roger Clarke - Site Last Verified: 15 February 2009
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