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  • Social networks provide a platform for political, social, business, and leisure activities and an opportunity for those with expertise in computer science to create novel businesses. New work published in the International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning, looks at how a course might be developed for computer engineering students that will equip them with the skills to handle and manipulate the various platforms. Such a capstone course* might also be designed to empower them to generate new business opportunities, develop useful applications, or simply prepare for the job market in this arena.

    Social networks have come to dominate the wide digital world that is often whimsically referred to as "cyberspace". Billions of people use at least one social network in their day-to-day lives. Indeed, the author of the current paper, Mohammad Fraiwan of the Department of Computer Engineering, Jordan University of Science and Technology, writes that there are well over three billion uses of social networks. That figure is growing all the time it seems and given that the world population is fast approaching 8 billion that represents a substantial proportion. With traditional and online media already utilizing social networks as a source of "news" and "comment", there are many ways in which a knowledgeable expert in this realm might create and exploit business opportunities.

    Fraiwan describes and demonstrates the successes of a capstone course for undergraduate students that not only exposes these students to the plethora of social networks, but also makes it possible for them to collect and analyse data from these networks and propose useful applications. He points out that while computer engineering is intrinsically tied to studying and solving real-life problems, many courses are embedded in a staid and out-moded didactic tradition.

    There is, therefore, a growing and pressing need for the student of today to be tutored and guided in practical emerging fields to ready them for the job market they will face when they graduate. Fundamentally, a new style of course that brings real-life problems into the classroom and guides the students in how to solve those problems will prepare them to be problem solvers in the outside world in a way that more conventional courses cannot.

    * A capstone course is usually defined as a period of study and a project undertaken towards the end of a larger period of education to "cap" off the work that has been built up to that point, analogous to the final stones or brocks laid atop a wall, the capstones.

    Fraiwan, M. (2021) 'Introducing a capstone course on social networks', Int. J. Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning, Vol. 31, No. 4, pp.485–500.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJCEELL.2021.118315

  • Can we build smart cities that utilise a network of Internet of Things (IoT) devices that are interconnected and protected in such a way that they can resist malicious attacks from third parties? Writing in the International Journal of Web and Grid Services, an international team looks at how topology can be used to make a robust scale-free system with attack resistance.

    The researchers suggest that the emergence of the IoT has led to an exponential increase in devices and applications running on them that leaves many systems vulnerable to attack where unwitting users and even those running such systems are unaware of the exploits and loopholes at a single point that might be used to gain access or disrupt whole networks and systems. The team has looked at how Enhanced Angle Sum Operation ROSE (EASO-ROSE), Enhanced ROSE, Adaptive Genetic Algorithm (AGA), and Cluster Adaptive Genetic Algorithm (CAGA) might be used as protection at the scale-free smart city level of the IoT.

    Given that many aspects of the IoT are critical components in healthcare, industry, transport, and defence, there is an ongoing and pressing need to ensure they are protected in a robust way against attack. Indeed, failure at a power station or hospital could be life threatening, for instance. The problem is that IoT networks have myriad components and absorb, generate, and process vast amounts of data. Coupled with multiple input and output points there are many ways in which they might be attacked. In addition, the reduction in complexity of utilizing a scale-free system in preference to a small-world model for networking at once adds to the security concerns as well as making them more resilient in some ways.

    The team has simulated a smart city and assessed two models of protection. Each has its pros and cons, as one would expect. The team shows that their proposed Enhanced ROSE and EASO-ROSE outperform conventional ROSE and simulating annealing. The CAGA and AGA approaches in turn perform better than conventional simulating annealing and hill-climbing approaches in terms of results. They work by guiding the system topology towards a global optimal solution.

    Qureshi, T.N., Javaid, N., Almogren, A., Abubaker, Z., Almajed, H. and Mohiuddin, I. (2021) 'Attack resistance-based topology robustness of scale-free internet of things for smart cities', Int. J. Web and Grid Services, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp.343–370.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJWGS.2021.118400

  • A powerful discourse is breaking on the shores of the islands of the Pacific as the nations within this vast region use the language of the Blue Pacific to express their solidarity with each other as well as their sovereignty, especially in the face of climate change.

    Margaret Jolly of the School of Culture, History and Language in the College of Asia and the Pacific at The Australian National University in Canberra, suggests that in this discourse there exists a toxic legacy, that of colonialism and capitalism. Moreover, to this day, the people of the region must grapple with the problems those two oppressors have wrought – a massively polluted ocean with a huge burden of plastic waste, nuclear contamination, and the warming and acidification of the ocean associated with climate change.

    Writing in the International Journal of Society Systems Science, Jolly explores this cruel ongoing paradox with which the people of the Pacific region must continue to live. She points out that "the global inequalities and divisions created by a colonising capitalism and the burgeoning power and hubris of fossil-fuelled political economies are both cause and consequence of all [the problems the people face]." In the face of these ongoing crises, the people of the Pacific are seeking to redress the balance, reduce inequalities with the regions that once colonised, and resist the onslaught of continued pollution.

    Anthropogenic climate change means so-called "natural" driven by human activity and pollution are becoming more commonplace and all the people of the Pacific are likely to be affected detrimentally regardless of whether the ocean laps at their doors or the live inland and at higher altitude. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch also, is perhaps the all too visible evidence of plastic pollution representing a shifting region the size of the Australian territory of Queensland.

    The idyllic imaginings of the backpacker seeking oceanic utopia may never have represented reality at any point in history, but the modern waste streams that are the rivers that empty into the Pacific Ocean are the more obvious sign that all is not well.

    Efforts are being made, thankfully, to address the problems of the Blue Pacific. But, adds Jolly, the people of this enormous and diverse region must forge "forceful and creative coalitions across divisions and inequalities" in their struggle to create a shared future that frees itself from the colonial capitalist legacy that anchors it unwittingly close to a figurative rocky shore rather than allowing it to sail free as it should.

    Jolly, M. (2021) 'Blue Pacific, polluted ocean', Int. J. Society Systems Science, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp.241–257.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJSSS.2021.118142

  • Social media influencers can wield considerable power when it comes to advocating for brands and even causes specifically with the niche that is their following on a given platform. Among the various platforms, Instagram, is one of the most influential with many of its most popular users driving sociopolitical opinion and nudging consumers towards particular products and services.

    Helen Inseng Duh and Thabile Thabethe of the Marketing Department at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, have investigated the attributes that seem to endow the most influential users of the Instagram platform with their particular power to drive opinion. They have gathered data on 330 "millennials" from diverse backgrounds studying at the university to see whether there are any correlations with social and cultural background or whether it is the characteristics of the influencers themselves that push their popularity and persuasiveness.

    Writing in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, the team has found that trustworthiness, familiarity, similarity, and likeability were significant drivers of brand engagement. However, the likeability of an influencer perhaps paradoxically was a negative driver of brand engagement. Moreover, it seems that expertise and the attractiveness of the influencer had little effect on brand engagement.

    The attention of consumers is constantly pulled in different directions by all kinds of marketing distractions on a wide range of devices in the wider world through advertising hoardings and traditional media and sales approaches in shopping centres and beyond. Given this scenario, it is intriguing that a personality on social media, whether an established celebrity, such as an actor, musician, sporting hero, or a new kind of celebrity, made famous by a given platform, can have any direct influence at all, but this is very much the case. Marketers are exploiting this influence widely just as they have done other media over the years. It is critical to their success in achieving their sales goals that they understand what it is about the so-called influencers that drive engagement with the products and services being marketed and how this affects brand recognition and ultimately purchasing decisions.

    The bottom line in the study is that the biggest factor regarding the impact a given influencer has on brand engagement is whether or not they are familiar not whether they are attractive, likeable or an expert in a given niche. Ultimately, to achieve the greatest success when targeting millennials with influencer marketing, marketers need to simply choose familiar and moderately likable social influencers to communicate and endorse their brands, the team suggests.

    Duh, H.I. and Thabethe, T. (2021) 'Attributes of Instagram influencers impacting consumer brand engagement', Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 15, Nos. 5/6, pp.477–497.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2021.118261

  • How do we keep older cyclists safe on our roads? That's the question researchers in The Netherlands hope to answer in a paper published in the International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics. In it, the team has carried out an evaluation study of a light communication system for bicycles that could improve visibility to other road users.

    Frank Westerhuis and Dick de Waard of the University of Groningen, and Carola Engbers, Rosemary Dubbeldam, and Hans Rietman of Roessingh Research and Development in Enschede, and also at the neighbouring University of Twente, suggest that older cyclists are at risk because of low-speed interactions, stopping, (dis)mounting, and potentially misjudging riding speeds. A lighting system that alerted other road users to a cyclist's riding speed, braking, and turning intentions, has now been developed to improve safety for older cyclists. Tests on the system were perceived positively by volunteers using and observing the system, the team reports.

    Cycling is a rather common mode of transport across The Netherlands and in many other parts of the world. Researchers have previously suggested that it not only improves personal health but also has environmental benefits, not least because of an obvious reduction in pollution. With an aging population in many regions and continued good health for many, the number of older cyclists on the roads continues to rise. Of course, older people are often susceptible to physical and cognitive problems that might increase their accident risk while cycling. As such, there is a pressing need to improve safety for this cohort of cyclists.

    Dedicated light signals, as are already obligatory on motorbikes, that show rider's turning and braking behaviour would be useful to all other road users including fellow cyclists. Indicator controls on the bicycle's handlebars would also reduce the need or the older cyclists to take their hands from said handlebars to indication their turning intention as is the norm and so reduce the risk of the cyclist losing their balance ahead and during a turn.

    The team points out that in many jurisdictions, such light indicators would have to be accommodated by the limitations of current law regarding blinking lights on bicycles, which are often illegal. Such a progression could be readily made to improve safety and reduce accidents for a growing number of cyclists.

    Westerhuis, F., Engbers, C., Dubbeldam, R., Rietman, H. and de Waard, D. (2021) 'Enlightening cyclists: an evaluation study of a bicycle light communication system aimed to support older cyclists in traffic interactions', Int. J. Human Factors and Ergonomics, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp.294–317
    DOI: 10.1504/IJHFE.2021.118225

  • Research published in the International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education takes a US perspective on the COVID-19 crisis and the inequalities that disadvantaged and marginalized populations have experienced during the pandemic. Tonia Warnecke of Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, considers healthcare access and provision, the digital divide, remote work, national crisis management, the paycheck protection program, worker safety, the gig economy, and unemployment in this context.

    Every crisis is different and affects people in very different ways at the local, national, and international levels. However, a major pandemic caused by a potentially lethal pathogen, as is the COVID-19 pandemic, affects disadvantaged and marginalized populations much more than those in a privileged position around the globe. Warnecke suggests that the disparities in the USA are caused by many people not having access to remote working arrangements, the technological divide, a lack of access to good quality health and education, and longstanding racial and gender inequities.

    "Crisis management and response can either reduce or exacerbate impacts on different groups," Warnecke suggests. She adds that her study highlights lessons that society must learn from the experience of the current pandemic to allow us to reframe decision-making processes for greater inclusivity. This would hopefully stand us in good stead to face a future pandemic. Unfortunately, history shows us that many of the public health lessons that might have been learned during other crises, such as the 1918 flu pandemic, the Great Recession, and the 1997 Asian crisis, were cast aside once the crisis was over. This had a detrimental and lasting effect on millions of people.

    To avoid new inequities emerging once we have moved through the current pandemic crisis, lessons surrounding non-pharmaceutical interventions, consumer protection, and supply chain resilience must be understood and acted on urgently at the earliest stage of the next major crisis.

    "The equity gaps are large and diverse in the USA, with only some highlighted here, but many opportunities remain to reframe economic decision-making and risk management processes to be more inclusive of marginalized and less advantaged groups," writes Warnecke.

    Warnecke, T. (2021) 'The COVID-19 crisis and (in)equity: what lessons can we learn?', Int. J. Pluralism and Economics Education, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp.8-13.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJPEE.2021.118148

  • For many years advocates of e-learning and online approaches to education touted the many benefits. Ultimately, however, it was the emergence of a novel coronavirus that gave us the COVID-19 pandemic that made e-learning an essential rather than a luxury for many students the world over. Research published in the International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, looks at how school and university closures, lockdowns, quarantines, and the urgent need to quash the virus, have pushed us into a world of online and e-learning as never before.

    Mohammed Akour, Hiba Al Sghaier, and Yazan Al Shboul of Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan and Mamdouh Alenezi of the Prince Sultan University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, make the obvious point that students are the focus of education but this is often overlooked in the rush to recruit students, fulfill curriculum obligations, and achieve targets. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to major changes in our outlook and approach, however, and students are now more properly the focus once again. As such, educators need to consider the way in which remote learning has affected their students over the months since the pandemic arose and to see how e-learning might be implemented for the benefit of future students after the pandemic and ahead of the almost inevitable next emergent pathogen.

    The team writes that while the pandemic has pushed us into an unprecedented educational position, "E-learning can be an opportunity for teachers, students, and university administrators to stay connected; a tool to guarantee continuous learning; and a means to provide psychosocial support until students can go back to university." They point out that the success of e-learning approaches to education are obviously highly dependent on access to appropriate technology – a computer, tablet, and, of course, the internet, the role it plays is only as effective as the educators make it and the response of students. "Transitioning to e-learning requires time and preparation for both students and teachers," the team adds, "as well as from a technological standpoint."

    In the current study, a survey of students revealed a somewhat negative attitude towards e-learning at this point in education history. The main cause, the team suggests, lies in the urgency with which the pandemic forced us to adopt e-learning and the lack of preparation, despite many years of development of the tools and technologies on which educators and students have now relied for almost two years. There are, as it were lessons to be learned, regarding the implementation of e-learning that will hopefully allow educators to help their students in the future should we once again come to a time of lockdowns, school closures, and self-isolation.

    Akour, M., Alenezi, M., Al Sghaier, H. and Al Shboul, Y. (2021) 'The COVID-19 pandemic: when e-learning becomes mandatory not complementary', Int. J. Technology Enhanced Learning, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp.429–439.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJTEL.2021.118003

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives the world over in unimaginable ways. Society has been disrupted massively as have the economies of nations as travel and commerce were restricted by various measures to try and control the spread of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that causes the disease. The tourism industry and all its dependents has suffered immeasurably. Now, writing in the International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, cultural theorist Maximiliano Korstanje of the Department of Economics at the University of Palermo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, discusses the figure of the "undesired guest" and our right to travel. Tourism is not a modern phenomenon and underpins culture in many parts of the world. However, tourism cannot exist without tourists, and specifically the "tourist gaze", a term coined by British sociologist John Urry.

    In the new normal, how do we reconcile the need for tourism and tourists, who were previously seen as agents of economic prosperity and wealth but are now perceived as putative carriers of a lethal virus. We might talk of controlling borders, COVID-19 testing, and vaccine passports, but we are in a world of high-risk decision making. The pandemic is pushing us towards a new paradigm in recreational travel, which may well never revert to the old, familiar opportunities that many people enjoyed in the boom years after World War II and well into the 21st Century.

    At a fundamental philosophical level, are we to perceive the opportunity to travel as a human right, is the hospitality that might be offered a right too? Has the emergence of a novel and lethal coronavirus not changed all of this? It could be that our "right" to travel is largely an invention of the late 20th Century. Moreover, for many millions of people whether they have a right to travel or not is irrelevant because they live in a state of extreme poverty or under highly restrictive totalitarian regimes, or where resources and opportunity limit every aspect of their lives, tourism does not feature on their life agenda in any way. That said, education and opportunity in the developing world might allow them to dream of such a lifestyle.

    It is a moot point. "Tourists who were historically marked as ambassadors of civilisation are now labelled as carriers of a lethal virus," writes Korstanje. They are now undesired guests, their tourist gaze is now a "wicked gaze".

    Korstanje, M.E. (2021) 'The COVID-19 and the figure of the undesired guest: the right to travel in scrutiny', Int. J. Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp.336–349.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJHRCS.2021.117970

  • Music is an incredibly powerful part of what it means to be human, but should it be a human right? Should the human right to music be bundled with the right to freedom of expression, the right to culture, the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion and alongside the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples and the right to self-determination? New work published in the International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies seeks to answer these questions.

    Peter Kirchschlaeger of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Lucerne in Switzerland suggests that there is a strong ethical justification for making music a human right. Once an ethical grounding is in place, a legal right might eventually flow from this.

    Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 states that "Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits." There has recently been a call for a formal acknowledgement of the 'composite' right to music at least through jurisprudence and in practice.

    "For a right to be transformed into positive law, a political opinion-forming and decision-making process is necessary leading to the political conclusion of the need for the human right to music," writes Kirchschlaeger.

    Ultimately, a human right to music might embody the following ethos: "The human right to music protects the freedom of expression in the form of music; the freedom to participate in music and to enjoy music; the freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to play, perform or listen to music as form to manifest his or her religion or belief in teaching, practice, and worship; music as a dimension of the Rights of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples; and music as a dimension of the Right to Self-Determination."

    Kirchschlaeger, P.G. (2021) 'A human right to music – an ethical justification', Int. J. Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp.284–297.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJHRCS.2021.117957

  • Wars and geological disasters aside, two major crises have affected world economies acutely so far this century – the international financial crisis that peaked around 2010 and the COVID-19 pandemic which emerged a decade later. Research in the International Journal of Teaching and Case Studies, has looked at how governance and gross domestic product (GDP) during the period 2010 to 2019 affected the level of venture capital investment after the financial crises and before the pandemic.

    Sebastian Schaefer, Felix Ashu, and Michael Neubert of the ISM International School of Management in Paris, France, suggest in their paper that politicians, investors, and entrepreneurs need to have a clearer understanding of the factors that affect total venture capital investments, without it they cannot facilitate economic growth. The received wisdom is that developed and well-governed countries attract greater investment, but there is a dearth of research evidence to support this assumption quantitatively.

    As such, the team has looked at the period 2010 to 2019 and looked at how governance indicators are correlated with GDP across 25 developed European nations. By choosing this period the findings might be to some degree independent of the two major factors that affected global economics before and after the period in question and so could offer a general finding. A multiple regression analysis allowed them to extract new insights but also revealed a mix of effects between countries and so generalisations are difficult to make. Moreover, the team could explain the mixed findings of earlier work better through their own analysis. However, they do offer that overall "a certain minimal level of political governance has an impact on venture capital investments."

    The team proposes that future work will need to increase the sample size and cluster countries into groups. This, they suggest, might allow them to come to more general conclusions regarding each variable considered and the effect it has on venture capital investments.

    Schaefer, S., Ashu, F. and Neubert, M. (2021) 'The impact of GDP and governance on venture capital investments for the period 2010–2019 (after the financial crisis and before the Covid-19 pandemic)', Int. J. Teaching and Case Studies, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.219–232.
    DOI: 10.1504/IJTCS.2021.117967

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New Editor for International Journal of International Journal of Big Data Intelligence

Prof. Lin Liu from Tsinghua University in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Big Data Intelligence.

New Editor for International Journal of Lean Enterprise Research

Prof. Dag Bergsjƶ from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Lean Enterprise Research.

New Editor for International Journal of Revenue Management

Prof. Wen-Chyuan Chiang from the University of Tulsa in the United States has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Revenue Management. The previous Editor in Chief, Prof. Jason C.H. Chen, will remain with the journal as Honorary Editor in Chief.

New Editor for International Journal of Sustainable Agricultural Management and Informatics

Associate Prof. Jason Papathanasiou from the University of Macedonia in Greece has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Sustainable Agricultural Management and Informatics.

New Editor for International Journal of Product Sound Quality

Associate Prof. Jinyang Xu from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Product Sound Quality.