PROFILE OF PAUL FERBER

A member of the department since 1981, Paul Ferber specializes in Political Communication, State & Local Politics, and Environmental Policy. He is a former chair of the department, and previously served as chair of the college's Social Science Division.  He has also been active in campus governance, including two terms as chair of the RIT Academic Senate.

Along with RIT colleagues Franz Foltz (Department of Science, Technology & Society/Public Policy) and Rudy Pugliese (Department of Communication), Ferber has co-authored a number of articles with a focus on the use of email and websites in politics and government, and civic discourse. Examples of this research include:

"Recovery.gov: Small Steps toward Transparency, Interactivity, and Trust," in E-Government Website Development: Future Trends and Strategic Models, E. Downey, C.D. Ekstrom, and M.A. Jones, eds.  IGI Global, Hershey, Pa., 2011.

An examination President Barak Obama’s directive on transparency and open government, and the creation of the Website
Recovery.gov, which reveals it to be not very interactive and less than fully transparent. While it may be praised for providing information, it falls far short of the vision of cyber advocates.

“Demographics and Political Characteristics Affecting State Legislature Websites: The Quality Divide,” 7:1, 2008 Journal of Political Marketing.

A study of the 50 state legislature websites, conducted in 2002, which found their quality to vary considerably.

"Cyberdemocracy and Online Politics: A New Model of Interactivity," October 2007, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society.

This study presented a three-way model of interactive communication, which was used to assess political websites’ progress toward the ideals of cyberdemocracy and the fostering of public deliberation.

"State Legislature Web Sites and Public Participation: Designing a Civic Resource," 2006, Atlantic Journal of Communication.

The chief information technology officers (CTO's) of the 50 state legislatures were surveyed, in 2004, to determine the volume of each of their legislature's website use, and factors related to design criteria, their methods of audience evaluation. Website use was found to be related to site quality.

"Community Networks and Public Participation: A Forum for Civic Engagement or a Platform for Raving Irate Malcontents?" October 2006, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society.

An evaluation of content and volume of political discussion on forums owned by a private New Jersey organization, which sought to understand the types and character of discussion taking place.

"Interactivity Versus Interaction: What Really Matters for State Legislature Web Sites?" October 2005, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society.

While the definition of interactivity is less than precise, this evaluation of state legislature websites found them lacking many features that could be considered interactive.

“Computer-Mediated Communication in the Arizona Legislature: Applying Media Richness Theory to Member and Staff Communication,” 37:2, 2005, State and Local Government Review.

This study applied Media Richness Theory to the selection of communication channels in a state legislature, as determined through a survey of members and staff. Legislators and interest groups tended to favor the traditional means of face-to-face communication, while staff and individual constituents tended to employ more mediated channels, such as email and telephones.

“The Internet and Public Participation: State Legislature Websites and the Many Definitions of Interactivity,” February 2005, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society.

Evaluation of state legislature Websites found them to not be very interactive under most definitions of the term. Chief Technology Officers of the legislatures appeared to differ as to which site features promote interactivity.

“Bridging the Quality Divide in State Legislature Websites: New Jersey Leads by Example,” Fall 2003, The New Jersey Journal of Communication.

An in-depth look at the design of the website rated #1 in the 2002 study of the 50 state legislatures, and reported in the Journal of Political Marketing 2008.

“The Politics of State Legislature Web Sites: Making E-government More Participatory,” June 2003, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society.

Websites of the 50 state legislatures were evaluated on five criteria: Content, usability, interactivity, transparency, and audience. An overall quality score for each site was computed, which showed a wide range in quality.