22 May 2019

Mowing the astroturfers

A grassroots movement is one that emerges and evolves naturally, growing new support as it does so. “Astroturfing” is the opposite of that. It is a movement support for which is bought and paid for. It has the look of a grassroots movement, but a closer inspection reveals it to be fake. Now, writing in the International Journal of Web and Grid Services, Australian computer scientists have surveyed the techniques available to detect astroturfing on the internet. The term derives from the synthetic green grass – AstroTurf – often used in sports arenas and public areas as an alternative to living turf.

Syed Mahbub and colleagues at La Trobe University, in Melbourne, explain that astroturfing represents a significant threat in the business world, in politics, public health, and many other realms. Fake support for a controversial system, product, or service can persuade unwitting observers and stakeholders of merit, where no merit is due. This can have dire consequences for genuine political candidates in an election, for instance, or for sales of better rival products, and adoption of systems and services that are in reality better than the astroturfed ones. Political blogs, news portals, and review websites are carpeted with Astroturf to the detriment of everyone but the astroturfers and their associates.

At its most mundane, astroturfing might lead to someone buying a, perhaps inferior, green widget from company A in preference to the better blue widget from Company B. At the other extreme, one might see a politician achieve election success where support has been entirely faked and the electorate duped into disregarding the genuine candidate.

Researchers in social media, e-commerce, and politics, are looking to find detection methods for spotting astroturfing. Mahbub and colleagues point out that there are content analysis techniques, individual and group identification techniques, linguistic feature analysis, authorship attribution techniques, and machine learning all being used with varying degrees of success to detect astroturfing.

“Astroturfing, in the present world, is a global phenomenon,” the team writes. “The magnitude of its effect is significantly threatening the integrity and consistency of information we receive from the internet. Thus, the prevention and detection of astroturfing demand more attention from the research community.” Their research paper offers researchers a taxonomy of those detection techniques that might help in the development of better approaches to the detection of this insidious problem.

Mahbub, S., Pardede, E., Kayes, A.S.M. and Rahayu, W. (2019) ‘Controlling astroturfing on the internet: a survey on detection techniques and research challenges’, Int. J. Web and Grid Services, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp.139–158.

21 May 2019

Special issue published: "Advancements in High-Level Parallel Programming Models for Edge/Fog/in-Situ Computing"

International Journal of Grid and Utility Computing 10(3) 2019

  • HPSM: a programming framework to exploit multi-CPU and multi-GPU systems simultaneously
  • An efficient pathfinding system in FPGA for edge/fog computing
  • A network coding protocol for wireless sensor fog computing
  • A dataflow runtime environment and static scheduler for edge, fog and in-situ computing
  • An optimised dataflow engine for GPGPU stream processing
Additional papers
  • Enriching folksonomy for online videos
  • A web platform for oral exam of programming class
  • Involving users in energy conservation: a case study in scientific clouds
  • Distributed and multi-core version of k-means algorithm

Free sample articles newly available from International Journal of Migration and Border Studies

The following sample articles from the International Journal of Migration and Border Studies are now available here for free:
  • Borderzones and the politics of irregularisation: the Interim Federal Health Program and Toronto's everyday places of healthcare
  • Capital is key: a case for migrants' cultural capital
  • Proliferating borders and precarious queers: migrant justice organising beyond LGBT inclusion
  • Immigrants or children? The expulsion of unaccompanied minors from two California towns
  • A visible geography of invisible journeys: Central American migration and the politics of survival
  • The ambiguous architecture of precarity: temporary protection, everyday living and migrant journeys of Syrian refugees
  • The Mexico-Canada border: extraterritorial border control and the production of 'economic refugees'
  • Luxury limbo: temporal techniques of border control and the humanitarianisation of waiting

New Editor for International Journal of Microstructure and Materials Properties

Prof. ZhengMing Sun from Southeast University in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Microstructure and Materials Properties.

Press release: "Switching on electric vehicles has health benefits"

Could the health benefits and reduced costs to healthcare systems be enough to justify subsidizing charging infrastructure to allow society to switch from the internal combustion engine to electric vehicles faster than current trends predict?

Writing in the International Journal of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles, Mitchell House and David Wright of the University of Ottawa, Canada, suggest that the migration from polluting vehicles that burn fossil fuels to electric vehicles, ideally using electricity generated sustainably could significantly reduce the incidence of cardiopulmonary illness due to air pollution. This would lead not only to less employee absence from work through illness but also lead to broad improvements in quality and length of life.

The team’s paper compares the financial costs of building electric vehicle charging infrastructure using empirical data with health costs to see if there is a net benefit. They have found that in the majority of plausible scenarios of balanced growth, when the number of vehicles rises and so does the number of charging stations, there is a positive net benefit to society.

“Since health benefits accrue to governments, businesses, and individuals, these results justify the use of government incentives for charging station deployment and this paper quantifies the impact of different levels of incentive,” the team concludes.

The team explains that the Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI) (an organization supported by 16 governments) has a target of 20 million electric vehicles by the year 2020. This was based on a notional growth rate of 75% per year defined in 2016. At that time, EV sales amounted to more than half a million (550000) worldwide in 2015, which represented growth of 70% on 2014. Electric vehicle sales have continued to grow, with 2017 and 2018 experiencing 61% and 64% year-over-year growth respectively.

Their results suggest that a 75% growth rate for electric vehicle uptake is not unrealistic. Moreover, in the face of anthropogenic climate change and the detrimental effects of health on pollution, some observers see the transition to electric vehicles as being a matter of serious urgency. This has to take into consideration the electricity generating mix from which the vehicles derive their power. If electricity is mostly supplied from power stations generating electricity by burning fossil fuels, including coal, gas, and oil, then many of the benefits are lost. This is particularly true in terms of climate impact at the global level but also in terms of sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate pollution. This has been witnessed in China, India, and Russia, as electricity demand has risen rapidly.

This latest study points out that governments have not been keen to support charging infrastructure due to a variety of industry players being involved and their responsibility to carry some of the cost. This would include electric utility companies who would profit directly from charging vehicles, out-of-town shopping centers that could attract more customers with charging points in their car parks, the manufacturers of vehicles and a new generation of “gas station” operators.

“The savings that can be achieved by 2021 are higher than the cost of installing charging station infrastructure over a wide range of scenarios,” the team writes. “These net benefits apply both to balanced growth in charging stations (in which the number of charging stations is proportional to the number of EVs) and also to rapid build out (in which charging stations are built over 2-4 years in order to achieve government EV targets for 2020 and 2025).” Ultimately, it is the reduced financial burden of a healthier populace that offsets the costs.

House, M.L. and Wright, D.J. (2019) ‘Using the health benefits of electric vehicles to justify charging infrastructure incentives’, Int. J. Electric and Hybrid Vehicles, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp.85-105.

17 May 2019

Research pick: Counting the crowd - "Crowd detection and counting using a static and dynamic platform: state of the art"

Visual surveillance of crowds is an important part of event management as well as policing. Now, a team from Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have looked at the various tools that have become available in recent years for automatically assessing the number of people in a crowd and determining the dynamics and movement of that crowd. Writing in the International Journal of Computational Vision and Robotics, the team finds several gaps in the current state-of-the-art technology and points developers to how those gaps might be filled.

Huma Chaudhry and Mohd Shafry Mohd Rahim of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Tanzila Saba of Prince Sultan University, Riyadh, and Amjad Rehman of Al Yamamah University, also in Riyadh, point out that computer vision research has moved towards crowd control and management in recent years with a view to addressing issues of security and safety when large numbers of people are gathered in one place. The fundamental problem that has to be addressed is how to manage multiple data streams from closed-circuit television (CCTV) and other sources that monitor crowd dynamics at events, in busy towns and cities and elsewhere. There a limit to how visual assessment of CCTV and so automated, computerised solutions are needed.

The team highlights some major events where there have been numerous casualties. Sometimes casualties at some events might be fewer than 100 people, but larger events might see thousands of casualties over a prolonged period. Automated crowd assessment could open up new ways t understand crowd dynamics and reduce those numbers. Some of the same insights from aerial crowd surveillance and other methods might also help in disaster relief activities where large numbers of people might be present in a given location.

Chaudhry, H., Rahim, M.S.M., Saba, T. and Rehman, A. (2019) ‘Crowd detection and counting using a static and dynamic platform: state of the art’, Int. J. Computational Vision and Robotics, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp.228–259.

16 May 2019

Research pick: "Have you got the right personality for Facebook?"

How do personality traits affect one’s use of the online social networking site, Facebook? That is the question researchers from Greece hope to answer in a paper in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising. The team surveyed 367 university students and analysed their answers concerning Facebook with the backdrop of different personality traits: extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness.

The team report that “agreeable individuals use Facebook to express their orientation to other people rather than to themselves,” whereas “extroverts use Facebook as a relationship building mechanism”. They add that neurotic people strive to bring out the best of themselves. Oddly, the personality traits of openness and conscientiousness do not seem to affect significantly Facebook use.

The bottom line is that extraversion is the main driver for Facebook use. Extroverts are heavy users and have more friends and interact with them and others at a higher rate. But, neurotic people also use it heavily to create a comprehensive and detailed profile of themselves to present to the public. There are limitations to the research in that those surveyed were students and some of them may well be aware of research into personality types and their use of social media, whereas the lay public would perhaps be less aware of such research. The obvious next step is to survey a wider group of people to reduce any inherent bias in the results.

Hatzithomas, L., Misirlis, N., Boutsouki, C. and Vlachopoulou, M. (2019) ‘Understanding the role of personality traits on Facebook intensity’, Int. J. Internet Marketing and Advertising, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp.99–119.

15 May 2019

Special issue published: "People Create Your Innovative Technology – How Do You Manage Them"

International Journal of Technology Management 79(3/4) 2019

  • Walking the innovation tightrope: maintaining balance with an ambidextrous organisation
  • Integrative leadership for technology innovation
  • How individuals perform customer knowledge absorption practices - a contextual approach to open innovation
  • Crafting better team climate: the benefits of using creative methods during team initiation
  • Organisational justice, emotional exhaustion, and turnover intention among Korean IT professionals: moderating roles of job characteristics and social support
  • Freedom-form organisations, innovation and quality of work life: towards a new model of interaction

First issue: International Journal of Agriculture Innovation, Technology and Globalisation (free sample issue available)

The International Journal of Agriculture Innovation, Technology and Globalisation provides a dynamic forum through which researchers can share agricultural research and thus aid innovation in education, business, community, environment and government. IJAITG proactively promotes the utilisation of technology in combination with business models to facilitate agriculture innovation in line with community entrepreneurship, which further helps accelerate agricultural development alongside industrial upgrading.

There is a free download of the papers from this first issue.

Newly announced journal: International Journal of Knowledge Science and Engineering

Knowledge has become an increasingly crucial resource that needs to be effectively managed and applied. Knowledge science and engineering is a rapidly growing multi- and interdisciplinary field that uses advanced computing to intelligently understand and solve complex problems in various emerging applications. The International Journal of Knowledge Science and Engineering promotes and stimulates research in this field, and explores the state of the art in all aspects of knowledge science and engineering, highlighting theories, techniques and methods of knowledge computing for various intelligent systems.

Research pick: Mortality and climate - "Exploring the link between climate variability and mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa"

Climate variability, which might arise through global warming or other factors has been shown to have an impact on mortality rates in sub-Saharan Africa, according to research published in the International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development.

Baishali Bakshi of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, in St Paul, Minnesota, USA, Raphael Nawrotzki of Deutsche Evaluierungsinstitut der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit (DEval) in Bonn, Germany, Joshua Donato of Houston Engineering, Inc. In Maple Grove, Minnesota, and Luisa Silva Lelis of Universidade de Sao Paulo, Piracicaba, Brazil, explain how the persistence of high mortality rates in this region are stifling development and sustainable development in particular.

They have look at climate variables over the last half a century and more to see if climate patterns correlated with mortality rates. Any insights in this regard might then be returned to policymakers, healthcare, and education to find ways to ameliorate the effects and perhaps lower mortality rates and thence allow sustainable development to proceed without this intrinsic hindrance.

The team looked at elevated mortality in rural Kenya, Mali, and Malawi during the period 2008 to 2009 and then analysed this against climate variability at this time against a long-term climate normal period, 1961-1990. The results were quite enlightening: Cold snaps led to increased mortality in Kenya but reduced mortality in Mali and Malawi, the team reports. Too much rain, as well as droughts, was also associated with increased mortality in Kenya and Malawi. Moreover, adverse climatic conditions increased mortality where HIV/AIDS was prevalence but led to lower mortality in malaria-stricken areas.

“Programs for reducing climate-related mortality through early warning systems, agricultural extension services, and improved access to health infrastructure will help more fully realise sustainable development goals of mortality reduction for sub-Saharan Africa,” the team concludes.

Bakshi, B., Nawrotzki, R.J., Donato, J.R. and Lelis, L.S. (2019) ‘Exploring the link between climate variability and mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa‘, Int. J. Environment and Sustainable Development, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp.206-237.

14 May 2019

Inderscience journals to invite expanded papers from International Conference On Enhancement and Innovations in Exploring Engineering 2019 for potential publication

Extended versions of papers presented at the International Conference On Enhancement and Innovations in Exploring Engineering (ICEIEE-2019) (12 July 2019, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) will be invited for review and potential publication by the following journals:

Free sample articles newly available from International Journal of Sustainable Manufacturing

The following sample articles from the International Journal of Sustainable Manufacturing are now available here for free:
  • Role of the behavioural analysis in the product repair and replacement process: the preliminaries
  • CDMF-RELSUS concept: reliable products are sustainable products - influences on product design, manufacturing and use phase
  • A disassembly process model for end-of-life activities of manufactured products
  • Sustainability analysis of rapid prototyping: material/resource and process perspectives
  • A case study on a sustainable alternative to the landfill disposal of spent foundry sand

Research pick: Pay-what-you-want restaurants - "A pay-what-you-want pricing model for restaurants"

Haggling will be familiar to anyone who has visited a market during the last few thousand years! If a deal is to be done between hawker and customer, then the price has to be right. A modern twist on this is that the seller has no input and the customer simply pays what they want for the goods; although there has always been free access to some things where a donation is welcomed. It is rare that this approach becomes the predominant pricing model although there have been numerous experiments, such as pay-what-you-want for digital goods online, including music from famous artists.

Now, Vinaysingh Chawan of the Indian Institute of Management Indore, writing in the International Journal of Services and Operations Management explains that the pay-what-you-want pricing model whether for digital goods, services, or entrance to a museum or exhibition is perhaps counterintuitive. This is especially so given that the buyer may opt to pay nothing and so the seller makes no financial gain from the transaction. However, as counterintuitive as it may seem, the PWYW model does have its supporters and many companies give their customers the option.

It turns out that the vast majority of people will take the view that this “honesty box” type approach deserves to be rewarded and will pay what they perceive as a fair price. Few pay nothing at all. Some people might even pay more than the price the seller hoped for and this can offset the loss due to those who pay nothing. The seller has to assume a majority of fair-minded customers and few freeloaders.

Chawan has investigated with PWYW works for the restaurant industry. If the menu gives a fair suggested price rather than an obligatory price, then it seems customers will pay a fair price. There is always the option of setting an absolute minimum which precludes freeloading and allows the restaurateur to at least cover costs, perhaps with a small profit margin. Indeed, when a minimum is set and a guide price is given, profits commonly end up being higher than when the restaurateur sets absolute pricing. There is much research to be done before this paradigm becomes widespread if not universal.

Chawan, V. (2019) ‘A pay-what-you-want pricing model for restaurants‘, Int. J. Services and Operations Management, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp.431-449.

10 May 2019

Free open access article available: "Metaphors and analogies through smart materials to mitigate age-related differences in the understanding of technology"

The following paper, "Metaphors and analogies through smart materials to mitigate age-related differences in the understanding of technology" (International Journal of Journal of Design Research 16(3/4) 2018) is freely available for download as an open access article.

It can be downloaded via the full-text link available here.

Research pick: Finding fake reviews - "Detecting fake reviews via dynamic multimode network"

Many online shoppers will take a look at the reviews for the product or service they’re about to purchase. The majority will presumably trust that the e-commerce site will only be posting genuine reviews of any given product, posted by other customers. However, as several recent high-profile cases have shown this is not always the case. Unfortunately, e-commerce sites are littered with fake reviews. These can persuade innocent shoppers to make a purchase and anticipate a certain level of quality to which the product or service they receive ultimately does not reach.

Even the most respected of sites can succumb to fake reviews because it is very difficult to automate detection despite the many protections that some operators of such sites have implemented to do so. Now, writing in the International Journal of High Performance Computing and Networking, a team from China has demonstrated how a dynamic multimode network might be employed to efficiently detect fake reviews.

There are four fundamental concepts that might be examined to detect fake reviews, explain Jun Zhao and Hong Wang of the School of Information Science and Engineering, at Shandong Normal University, China. These are the quality of the merchandise, the honesty of the review, the trustworthiness of the reviewer, and the reliability of the e-commerce site. However, even taken together these cannot discern whether an unscrupulous merchant has employed third parties to post favourable but fake reviews of their products and services. In order to more subtly detect fake reviews, the team’s dynamic approach utilizes three algorithms to uncover the nuances common to fake reviews.

Zhao, J. and Wang, H. (2019) ‘Detecting fake reviews via dynamic multimode network‘, Int. J. High Performance Computing and Networking, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp.408-416.