Research

Technology use by populations experiencing disruption

resilience

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 can serve outside of the emergency phase. 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. At the moment, I am currently exploring how ICTs support : (1) refugees in their migration and resettlement; (2) veterans and their caregivers as vets re-integrate into civil society; (3) crisis response and recovery; and (4) social movements.

Digital Government: Understanding Multiple Overlapping Public Spheres

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 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.