Technology-enabled Resilienceresilience

I am conducting longitudinal studies of how people use technology to to repair their lives when experiencing life disruptions. To date, I have studied the use of ICTs by Israeli and Iraqi citizens who experienced long-term disruption as caused by war. I am now examining disruption that extends beyond crises–not only do I wish to continue studying populations experiencing ongoing environmental duress, but will extend this notion of resilience to populations experiencing disruption in less extreme environments. In other words, there are many ways to think of disruption and how individuals, groups, communities and organizations are resilient or resistant to chronic disruption.

My current research explores resilience as related to the experiences of marginalized populations in how they use technology, broadly defined, as generative tools for re-crafting their sense of self. Moreover, I also focus on how the design of existing socio-technical systems may further marginalize people’s identities, and how people are designing and maintaining their own socio-technical systems (i.e. support structures) that promote resiliency.

Below, I describe three ongoing and intertwined research projects:

(1) Identity Work and Transition Resilience

In this larger project focused on transition, I am exploring how people with marginalized identities use ICTs to develop new pathways forward in their lives whereas they might be experiencing intolerance, hostility, or other issues, in their physical world environments. To that end, I am currently exploring ICT use and design opportunities amongst the following populations:

– LGBTQ populations

– veterans and and veteran families

– refugee migration and resettlement

– disadvantaged college students

– new mothers

– invisible illness such as chronic health conditions and mental health

– other transitioning populations

(2) Designing Resilient Online Communities

In this series of studies, I am exploring how to design resilient online communities–that is, online spaces that are safe, and absent ridicule and harassment. To that end, I am exploring the following problem spaces, as well as spaces being used by marginalize populations (as described above):

– toxic masculinity online (How do we reduce toxicity online, such as in video game communities, veteran communities, etc…?)

– political interactions (How do we reduce toxicity in political interactions?)

– moderation (How do moderators in online communities, such as Reddit, play a role in limiting toxicity?)

(3) Resilience Making: Exploring Bottom-Up Design Amongst Marginalized Populations

In this series of studies, I am interested in exploring how people with marginalized identities design new technologies, or re-appropriate existing technologies like Facebook groups and fanfiction communities, as a means of creating resilience for themselves or their greater communities. To that end, I am exploring these practices as a type of critical design and making:

-exploring how marginalized populations design online communities or other technologies to serve their own needs, bottom-up, and inverse to formal services and societal arrangements\

Online Political Interaction

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 Dr. Scott Robertson, Dr. Jenny Stromer-Galley, Dr. Jeff Hemsley, and other members of the Behavior-Information-Technology-Society (BITS) and Hawaii Computer Human Interaction (HICHI) labs, 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. Here, we are interested in understanding the political activities engaged in by both citizens and politicians, across the assemblage of social media technologies that are currently at people’s disposal, such as Facebook and Twitter. We are utilizing several methods to understand online political interactions, including digital ethnography (observations and interviews), lab experiments, and “big data” collection and analysis. Moreover, we are employing a design science approach to build tools that are more conducive to political interactions, and have recently designed and implemented a prototype political deliberation environment, dubbed  Poli, which is based on requirements generated through our fieldwork. We are now exploring digital journalism, where we are thinking about how we can best support journalists in aggregating and synthesizing social media data.