We are currently conducting investigations in a variety of domains.
Digital Politics –
Political deliberation across social media: Participation in political debate and deliberation is critical to democracy. Browsing political material is a direct way of acquiring knowledge about civic activities, the operations of government, and the issues of the day. In collaboration with the Hawaii Computer Human Interaction (HICHI) lab at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, we are conducting research examining a fast growing, but little understood new type of political participation: online information seeking, deliberation and decision making in the context of Web 2.0 technologies. The research includes four intertwined threads of study: (a) user-centered design of enhancements to a search/browse tool and a cross-application, user-generated interlinkage browser; (b) laboratory studies of how potential voters browse and make decisions in social computing environments; (c) longitudinal observation of users of novel, socially-enabled political search/browse tools through at least three U.S. election cycles; and (d) big data collection and analysis.
Crisis informatics: For several years, Disaster Social Scientists have examined how people cope with environmental disruptions as caused by natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes. More recently, the role ICTs play in enabling people to coordinate efforts in providing aid and assistance during disaster has emerged as an active research topic. The majority of these studies, however, have focused on the acute emergency phase during and shortly after a disaster strikes. It is still unclear what role ICTs like Facebook and Twitter can serve outside of the emergency phase. We are conducting longitudinal studies of how people and organizations use technology for resilience, and aim to identify successes and failures. To date, we have studied the use of ICTs by Israeli and Iraqi citizens who experienced long-term disruption as caused by war. Through future work, not only do we wish to continue studying populations and organizations experiencing ongoing duress, but we will apply a design science approach to develop new technologies that can help people in similar situations ameliorate the environmental stress they encounter on a daily basis.
We apply our research findings to develop real-world tools.
Poli – A new social media environment for political deliberation designed in collaboration between Syracuse University and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Poli is a prototype social media environment that was designed in response to user needs in the domain of political information browsing and deliberation. Through our empirical work, we identified several challenges users face when browsing political information, disseminating political information, and engaging in political discourse, and designed Poli accordingly. The features of the environment include aggregating information across social media technologies, exposing users to diverse political information and alternative viewpoints, filtering content by topic, sentiment, geographic location and political orientation, providing feedback on the impact of posts, understanding context, and managing identity.
Software developed to support our research.