[Air-L] Beyond Misinformation: Towards a Research Agenda for Information Ecosystems, Network Dynamics, and Emergent Epistemologies

Jeff Hemsley jjhemsle at syr.edu
Fri May 14 09:56:54 PDT 2021

Where: Virtual (Zoom)
When: August 5-6, 2021

This workshop starts from the premise that the problem of online misinformation is a symptom, not a cause. While undeniably problematic, misinformation is the current cause célèbre of a larger class of pathological dynamics that have emerged in our evolving digital media ecosystems and cause harm at different systemic levels. These dynamics are exacerbated by many aspects of our evolving digital infrastructure, including the affordances of different media platforms, algorithmic filters, the loss of trusted gatekeepers, the attention economy, and ever evolving modes of journalism. Additionally, cognitive factors as well as offline social structures, including systems of oppression, play an enormous role in shaping the consensual realities that emerge in digital spaces.

This is a wicked problem, and while many dimensions of the problem have been examined, a more complete articulation requires the synthesis of insights from scholars across many disciplines. Our hope is that this workshop will provide a vehicle for this process and pave the way to a research agenda that leads to solutions.

To participate, please submit an abstract to the conference website (https://easychair.org/cfp/INDE-2021) by June 15, 2021 that addresses at least one of the following questions:

1.    How do current information ecosystems exacerbate pathological psychosocial dynamics in human societies, and what might be done to fix them?
2.    What new theoretical and/or methodological approaches are necessary to strengthen our understanding of the pathological dynamics of information ecosystems?
3.    What pattern of pathological dynamics created or exacerbated by our information ecosystems is the most pressing to address?

Abstracts should be 500 to 1000 words in length and should articulate connections between pathological dynamics, information ecosystems, psychosocial factors, and / or design. Pathological dynamics might include but are not limited to the spread of misinformation, ideological polarization, partisanship as a social identity, tribalism, online toxicity, clicktivism, conspiracism, and extremism. Priority will be given to statements that report on work that has moved beyond a conceptual stage. We are eager to receive contributions from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives, including biology and evolutionary science, physics and network science, critical race and cultural studies, complexity theory, computational sciences, philosophy, and the social sciences.

Notifications will be sent by July 15. Nine to twelve participants will be invited to present their work and others will be invited to participate in a collaborative sense-making effort that spans two days. The organizers will synthesize the effort into a white paper that will be made available on the workshop website.

Organizing Committee
* Joshua Introne; The iSchool at Syracuse University
* Brian McKernan; The iSchool at Syracuse University
* Whitney Phillips; The College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University
* Emily Thorson; The Maxwell School at Syracuse University

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