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Technology Assessment - Theory and Practice, Vol. 11, No. 3/4, November 2002, online available [05.12.2002]


The main topic of the journal, "E-Government - between Vision and Reality" - is illustrated by eight articles and an introduction. In their introduction G. Bechmann and S. Beck (ITAS) give an overview of this research area and ask to which extent E-Government may serve as "Leitbild" (model) merging societal processes of rationalization and democratization. Starting from a change in perspective within public administration from an internal to an external orientation as a "public service" to the citizen who is now "customer", the use of electronic technologies serves as a means to increase efficiency. The question is raised whether broader targets, such as democratisation and extended possibilities of participation could also be realized by E-Government. The following three articles analyse socio-theoretical implications: B. Priddat (University of Witten/Herdecke) deals with the connection between E-Government and the knowledge-driven society; J. Tauss (Member of the German Bundestag/Socialist Party), J. Kollbeck and N. Fazlic (referees of the Socialist Parliamentary Fraction) illustrate the role of E-Government within the political process; the article by S. Giesecke and D. Linse (VDI/VDE-Technology Centre for Information Technology) demonstrates the critical effects of the implementation of E-Government upon the social-structural chances of access to the Internet which may cause a further cementation of the "digital divide". The articles by T. Schuppan and C. Reichard (University of Potsdam), L. Holtkamp (University of Hagen) and P. Behringer (City of Karlsruhe) deal with problems of implementation on different levels of administration (Länder, local authorities). Finally, two case studies are presented: M. Bechmann and M. Werner (ITAS) analyse the discrepancy between supply and present use of Internet Portals of selected cities ("digital town hall"); G. Fuchs and H. Kastenholz (Academy for Technology Assessment Stuttgart) give a kind of "workshop"-account of conventional and net-based forms of citizens' participation ("Citizens' Forum", "Virtual Party Congress", "Electronic Voting"). Major emphasis is laid on the question of how the citizens themselves judge the democratic potential of the Internet and which are the characteristic features of participation in the first E-Democracy experiments .

The section TA-Institutions includes an article that outlines the working context of the German Bundestag's Enquete-Commission and its final memorandum "Sustainable energy supply under conditions of Globalization and Liberalization", written by one of the participants. The history of TA SWISS from the test-phase ten years ago to successful institutionalization is reconstructed in another article. The Academy of Technology Assessment Stuttgart which -after ten years of successful work - is now threatened by closure presents its updated documentation of Technology Assessment/TA in Baden-Württemberg as well as the Internet portal "TA-Net-BW", a facility which was created as transfer and service point for TA-relevant competencies and activities in the field of TA in Baden-Württemberg. At the beginning of the year, the section "Innovation and Sustainability" was founded at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Lyngby. Hereby long time efforts at integrating TA and technology and environment studies into the Department of Manufacturing Engineering and Management at DTU were finally successful.

The section TA-Concepts and Methods features an article dealing with methodological challenges of technology assessment studies of Nanotechnology - a cross-disciplinary technology with various implications for other technologies and a great potential for innovation. Concluded as well as on-going TA-studies of Nanotechnology in Germany are presented and the main tasks for future research activities are outlined.

In the TA-Projects section three concluded studies and two on-going studies are presented. Among the projects in progress is a study on "Sustainable Information and Communication Technology"(NIK) which aims at demonstrating the possibilities of combining the challenges of a sustainable economy with the development towards the 'Information Society' by means of the method of "Roadmapping". The second article focuses on the evaluation of a representative public-opinion poll about the relationship between interest in technology and attitudes towards the disposal of radioactive waste in Germany. This survey was carried out by ITAS in the context of the "Committee of experts to develop criteria for the selection of repository sites for radioactive waste" (AkEnd) constituted by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). Already finished is a monitoring study on the subject of nuclear fusion (state of development, potentials and risks) by the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Parliament (TAB) as well as the study 'Identifying and assessing national research activities on Sustainable Development' which aimed at identifying the research activities on sustainable development of all member states of the European Union and to assess them with regard to future joint activities within the EU.

The Book Reviews deal with two publications on "interdisciplinary technology research". Furthermore the report of the European Academy Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler on "Climate forecast and climate precaution" is presented and critically discussed.

The Conference Reports section includes an article on the congress "One Earth for All. Geoscience and Philosophy in dialogue", organised jointly by the Research Institute for Philosophy, Hannover, and the Association for Environmental Geoscience, Celle; a short report on the Second Austrian Conference on Technology Assessment in Vienna on the topic "Technology Assessment between Market, Regulation and Participation"; a report on the Annual Meeting of the International Society of Technology Assessment in Health Care ('ISTHAC') in Berlin as well as a report on the Scientific Symposium on "Logistics" in Magdeburg.

In the Discussion Forum Armin Grunwald deals (once again) with the relationship between TA and the economy against the background of a new international study on this topic by the Association of German Engineers (VDI).

In the ITAS-News one will find brief accounts of the EU-projects "Foresight on Information Society Technologies in the European Research Area" (FISTERA) and "Technology Assessment in Europe: between Method and Impact" (TAMI), both launched with the participation of ITAS as a core member. In addition, the new ITAS-project on 'Innovation strategies for new technologies and services for the achievement of Sustainable Development in transport", funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is described in brief.

In the TAB-News three new research topics: Biometrical Identification Systems, Pre-Implantation Diagnostics and New Forms of Dialogue between Science, Politics and the Public, as well as new publications of the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Parliament (TAB), are presented.


  • To contents of issue 3/4 /2002 of "Technikfolgenabschätzung - Theorie und Praxis" here