Hughes, Amanda L. and Leysia Palen (in press). The Evolving Role of the Public Information Officer: An Examination of Social Media in Emergency Management. Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. (2012)
Ban Al-Ani, Gloria Mark, Justin Chung, and Jennifer Jones. 2012. The Egyptian blogosphere: a counter-narrative of the revolution. In Proceedings of the ACM 2012 conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW ’12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 17-26.
Mark, Gloria, Mossaab Bagdouri, Leysia Palen, James H. Martin, Ban Al-Ani, Ken Anderson (2012). Blogs as a Collective War Diary. 2012 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Bellevue, WA.
Sarcevic, Aleskandra, Leysia Palen, Joanne White, Mossaab Bagdouri, Kate Starbird, Kenneth M. Anderson, (2012). “Beacons of Hope” in Decentralized Coordination: Learning from On-the-Ground Medical Twitterers During the 2010 Haiti Earthquake 2012 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Bellevue, WA.
Starbird, Kate and Leysia Palen (2012). (How) Will the Revolution be Retweeted?: Information Propagation in the 2011 Egyptian Uprising. 2012 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Bellevue, WA.
Starbird, Kate, Grace Muzny and Leysia Palen (2012). Learning from the Crowd: Collaborative Filtering Techniques for Identifying On-the-Ground Twitters during Mass Disruptions.In the Proceedings of the Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM 2012), Vancouver, BC.
St. Denis, Amanda Hughes and Leysia Palen (2012). Trial By Fire: The Deployment of Trusted Digital Volunteers in the 2011 Shadow Lake Fire In the Proceedings of the Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM 2012), Vancouver, BC.
Semaan, B., Mark, G. Repairing Infrastructure During Ongoing Crisis: Technology-Mediated Social Arrangements to Support Recovery. In Proceedings of ACM Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction (TOCHI).
Liu, Sophia B., Leysia Palen, and Elisa Giaccardi. Heritage Matters in Crisis Informatics: How Information and Communication Technology Can Support Legacies of Crisis Events. In Christine Hagar (Ed.), Crisis Information Management: Communication and Technologies, pp 65 – 86, Cambridge, UK: Woodhead Publishing Limited.
Vieweg, Sarah. Situational Awareness in Mass Emergency: A Behavioral and Linguistic Analysis of Microblogged Communications. University of Colorado at Boulder PhD Dissertation.
Palen, L., Vieweg, S., and Anderson, K. (2011). Supporting “Everyday Analysts” in Time- and Safety- Critical Situations. The Information Society Journal, 27(1), pp. 52-62.
The need for quick, timely and accurate information is critical in emergency events. People assemble information from both official and unofficial sources. As digital access expands, people will increasingly incorporate digital sources into decision-making and assess it against the local circumstances they experience. If we extrapolate to what such behavior means for the future, we argue that information management under emergency conditions will need to become increasingly socially distributed. A natural point of contention in such a view is the matter of how to assess the quality of information: how “good” or “bad” it is; whether it is “misinformation” or “disinformation.” Borrowing from Simon’s satisficing, we consider the matter of the assessment of information helpfulness and credibility as a function of the “everyday analytic” skills that people use to take action during mass emergencies. We discuss steps in a research agenda for the development of analytical support tools.
Starbird, Kate and Leysia Palen. “Voluntweeters:” Self-Organizing by Digital Volunteers in Times of Crisis. In the ACM 2011 Conference on Computer Human Interaction (CHI 2011), Vancouver, BC, Canada, long paper, pp. TBA.
This empirical study of “digital volunteers” in the aftermath of the January 12, 2010 Haiti earthquake describes their behaviors and mechanisms of self-organizing in the information space of a microblogging environment, where collaborators were newly found and distributed across continents. The paper explores the motivations, resources, activities and products of digital volunteers. It describes how seemingly small features of the technical environment offered structure for self-organizing, while considering how the social-technical milieu enabled individual capacities and collective action. Using social theory about selforganizing, the research offers insight about features of coordination within a setting of massive interaction.
Semaan, Bryan and Gloria Mark. Creating a Context of Trust with ICTs: Restoring a Sense of Normalcy in the Environment. In the ACM 2011 Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2011), Hangzhou, China, long paper, pp. TBA.
This paper reports on an ethnographic study of the technology-enabled behavior that took place amongst a citizen population living in a conflict zone. We interviewed 65 Iraqi citizens who experienced the current Gulf War beginning in March 2003. In the context of a disrupted environment, trust in people and institutions can erode. We find that trust is contextual–-as aspects of the physical world change, conceptions of trust can also change. We show how people were able to create a context of trust in the environment by using ICTs to manage their public identity, to conduct background checks, and to develop collaborative practices that relied on those with whom interpersonal trust previously existed. These new practices, in turn, enabled people to maintain work collaborations, to determine whether or not to continue interacting with others in public, to be able to travel safely, and to find trustworthy jobs. In developing these new practices we argue that technology enabled people to restore a sense of normalcy in an environment that had radically changed.
Semaan, Bryan. (2011). Recovery, Resilience and Beyond: ICT Use During Ongoing Disruption. University of California, Irvine PhD Dissertation.
Al-Ani, B., Gloria Mark, and Bryan Semaan. (2010). Blogging in a region of conflict: Supporting transition to recovery. In Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Atlanta, Georgia, USA, April 10 – 15, 2010). CHI 2010. ACM, New York, NY, 1069-1078. Honorable Mention for Best Paper.
The blogosphere is changing how people experience war and conflict. We conducted an analysis of 125 blogs written by Iraqi citizens experiencing extreme disruption in their country. We used Hoffman’s  stages of recovery model to understand how blogs support people in a region where conflict is occurring. We found that blogs create a safe virtual environment where people could interact, free of the violence in the physical environment and of the strict social norms of their changing society in wartime. Second, blogs enable a large network of global support through their interactive and personal nature. Third, blogs enable people experiencing a conflict to engage in dialogue with people outside their borders to discuss their situation. We discuss how blogs enable people to collaboratively interpret conflict through communities of interest and discussion with those who comment. We discuss how technology can better support blog use in a global environment.
Al-Ani, B., Gloria Mark, and Bryan Semaan. (2010). Blogging through Conflict: Sojourners in the Age of Social Media. InProceedings of the 3rd international Conference on intercultural Collaboration (Copenhagen, Denmark, August 19 – 20, 2010). ICIC ’10. ACM, New York, NY, 29-38
Social media enables the creation of online communities across physical boundaries. Blogs, or weblogs, enable bloggers to interact with a range of followers. We sought to conduct a qualitative study of the nature of the interactions that emerge in a blog community whose members are experiencing the impacts of ongoing conflict. We chose the Iraqi blogging community as a case study and focused on investigating the role of intercultural interactions in shaping people’s experiences during conflict. We found that intercultural interactions aided people by providing support, finding commonality, building a knowledge base, and in giving advice on restoring infrastructure. The intercultural interactions provided alternative views of an event constructed from diverse cultural perspectives. We found that the intercultural interactions we observed suggest a degree of intercultural competency within the blogosphere.
Corvey, W. J., Vieweg, S., Rood, T. and Palmer, M. (2010). Twitter in Mass Emergency: What NLP Techniques can Contribute. In Proceedings of the NAACL HLT 2010 Workshop on Computational Linguistics in a World of Social Media (Los Angeles, California, June 2010), 23–24.
We detail methods for entity span identification and entity class annotation of Twitter communications that take place during times of mass emergency. We present our motivation, method and preliminary results.
Liu, S. B. and Ayala Iacucci, A. (2010). Crisis Map Mashups in a Participatory Age. American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) Bulletin, June 2010, pp. 10-14.
Liu, S. B., Anahi Ayala Iacucci and Patrick Meier. (2010). Ushahidi Haiti and Chile: Next Generation Crisis Mapping. American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) Bulletin, August Issue, pp. 10-13.
Liu, S. B. and Palen, L. (2010). The New Cartographers: Crisis Map Mashups and the Emergence of Neogeographic Practice. Cartography and Geographic Information Science (CaGIS) Journal Special Issue on Mapping Hazards and Disasters, Volume 37, Number 1, pp. 69-90.
Crisis situations are ripe for expansion of the neogeographer population and skill set. We qualitatively examine the design and creation of crisis map mashups to describe emergent neogeographic practices in this particular domain. We analyze the circumstances that led to their creation, data selection, and design choices vis-à-vis spatial and temporal information representation. We then discuss the implications of emergent neogeographic practice based on two case examples, which illustrate the merging of professional and participatory geotechnologies, and the opportunity a blending of the two provides for widespread cartographic literacy.
Liu, Sophia B. (2010). Trends in Distributed Curatorial Technology to Manage Data in a Networked World. UPGRADE Journal: 2010 – Emerging Information Technologies (II), Volume XI, Number 3, August 2010 Issue, 18-24. Download
Since 2008, the word “curation” has become a buzzword among many social technology bloggers as one of the next big technology trends for 2010 and beyond. This is in part because we are no longer able to consume the plethora of information we are now generating leading to curatorial overload. To further understand why the concept of curation has gained traction, I collected and analyzed over 100 web artifacts pertaining to curation in the Information Age. In this article, I provide excerpts from these web artifacts to explain the value of curation in a networked world. I also present a working model of current curatorial activities, and then describe the rise of “socially-distributed curation” to emphasize the growing tendency to value social curation and facilitate curation in distributed ways.
Palen, L., Anderson, K. M., Mark, G., Martin, J., Sicker, D., Palmer, M., and Grunwald, D. (2010). A vision for technology-mediated support for public participation and assistance in mass emergencies and disasters. In Proceedings of the 2010 ACM-BCS Visions of Computer Science Conference (Edinburgh, United Kingdom, April 14 – 16, 2010). ACM-BCS Visions of Computer Science. British Computer Society, Swinton, UK, 1-12.
We present a vision of the future of emergency management that better supports inclusion of activities and information from members of the public during disasters and mass emergency events. Such a vision relies on integration of multiple subfields of computer science, and a commitment to an understanding of the domain of application. It supports the hopes of a grid/cyberinfrastructure-enabled future that makes use of social software. However, in contrast to how emergency management is often understood, it aims to push beyond the idea of monitoring on-line activity, and instead focuses on an understudied but critical aspect of mass emergency response—the needs and roles of members of the public. By viewing the citizenry as a powerful, self-organizing, and collectively intelligent force, information and communication technology can play a transformational role in crisis. Critical topics for research and development include an understanding of the quantity and quality of information (and its continuous change) produced through computer-mediated communication during emergencies; mechanisms for ensuring trustworthiness and security of information; mechanisms for aligning informal and formal sources of information; and new applications of information extraction techniques.
Palen, L., Starbird, K., Vieweg, S. and Hughes, A. (2010). Twitter-based information distribution during the 2009 Red River Valley flood threat. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, American Society for Information Science and Technology, Volume 36, Issue 5, (June/July 2010), pp. 13-17
Semaan, B., Mark, G., Al-Ani, B. (2010). Developing Information Technologies and Government Policies for Citizens Experiencing Disruption: The Role of Trust and Context. Presented at the 7th International Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management Conference (Seattle, WA, USA, May 2-5, 2010). ISCRAM 2010
This paper considers a subset of the technology-enabled communication that took place among citizen populations experiencing various disruptions, e.g. disaster and war. In the context of a disrupted environment, trust can erode where people no longer rely on institutions for support (i.e. the government), or where citizens do not trust other people. We argue that depending on what is taking place in the physical world, trust in people, information, and institutions can change – in this sense, trust is contextual. We then offer recommendations for designing new technologies for people who experience disruption, taking into account trust and context.
Starbird, K. and Palen, L. (2010). Pass It On?: Retweeting in Mass Emergencies. Presented at the 7th International Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management Conference (Seattle, WA, USA, May 2010). ISCRAM 2010.
Starbird, K., Palen, L., Hughes, A. L., and Vieweg, S. (2010). Chatter on the Red: What hazards threat reveals about the social life of microblogged information. In Proceedings of the 2010 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (Savannah, Georgia, USA, February 06 – 10, 2010). CSCW 2010. ACM, New York, NY, 241-250. Nominated for “Best of CSCW.”
This paper considers a subset of the computer-mediated communication (CMC) that took place during the flooding of the Red River Valley in the US and Canada in March and April 2009. Focusing on the use of Twitter, a microblogging service, we identified mechanisms of information production, distribution, and organization. The Red River event resulted in a rapid generation of Twitter communications by numerous sources using a variety of communications forms, including autobiographical and mainstream media reporting, among other types. We examine the social life of microblogged information, identifying generative, synthetic, derivative and innovative properties that sustain the broader system of interaction. The landscape of Twitter is such that the production of new information is supported through derivative activities of directing, relaying, synthesizing, and redistributing, and is additionally complemented by socio-technical innovation. These activities comprise self-organization of information.
Vieweg, Sarah, Amanda Hughes, Kate Starbird, Leysia Palen (2010). Microblogging During Two Natural Hazards Events: What Twitter May Contribute to Situational Awareness. In Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Atlanta, Georgia, USA, April 10 – 15, 2010). CHI 2010. ACM, New York, NY, 1079-1088
We analyze microblog posts generated during two recent, concurrent emergency events in North America via Twitter, a popular microblogging service. We focus on communications broadcast by people who were “on the ground” during the Oklahoma Grassfires of April 2009 and the Red River Floods that occurred in March and April 2009, and identify information that may contribute to enhancing situational awareness (SA). This work aims to inform next steps for extracting useful, relevant information during emergencies using information extraction (IE) technique.
Palen, L., Vieweg, S., Liu, S., Hughes, A. (2009). Crisis in a Networked World: Features of Computer-Mediated Communication in the April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech Event. Social Science Computing Review, Sage, (pp 467-480). Download
Crises and disasters have micro and macro social arrangements that differ from routine situations, as the field of disaster studies has described over its 100-year history. With increasingly pervasive information and communications technology and a changing political arena where terrorism is perceived as a major threat, the attention to crisis is high. Some of these new features of social life have created changes in disaster response that we are only beginning to understand. The University of Colorado is establishing an area of sociologically informed research and information and communications technology development in crisis informatics. This article reports on research that examines features of computer-mediated communication and information sharing activity during and after the April 16, 2007, crisis at Virginia Tech by members of the public. The authors consider consequences that these technology-supported social interactions have on emergency response and implications for methods in e-Social Science.
Mark, G., Semaan, B. (2009). Expanding a Country’s Borders During War: The Internet War Diary. In Proceedings of the ACM International Workshop on Intercultural Collaboration IWIC 2009 (Palo Alto, February 20-21, 2009).
Citizen journalism has changed the nature of how news is disseminated about local and global events. We conducted an ethnographic study of a particular kind of citizen journalism: the use of war diaries on the Internet. These diaries were targeted to an audience outside of the informants’ countries and cultures. We found that people wrote war diaries to reach out to people who were in environments not in a war as a way of sensemaking, for impression management, and to be participants in the social production of news and opinions about the war. We discuss how the use of a “war diary” as a public narrative empowered our informants and how they contributed to the social interpretation of their culture during war. Through the Internet war diary, people can communicate news beyond the physical boundaries of their country providing benefits to producers of the information as well as the consumers.
Mark, G., Al-Ani, B., Semaan, B. (2009) Resilience Through Technology Adoption: Merging the Old and the New in Iraq. In the Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems CHI 2009 (Boston, Apri 4-9, 2009).
Little attention has been given to how citizens use technology to be resilient when their country is at war. We report on an ethnographic interview study of how technology was adopted and used by citizens to be resilient during wartime. We interviewed 45 Iraqi citizens experiencing the current Iraq war. Based on our data we identified properties of resilience: reconfiguring social networks, self-organization, redundancy, proactive practices, and repairing trust in information. Technology supported people in being resilient by enabling them to control identity, to collaborate across religious sects, to create an organizational memory, and to provide alternative sources of news and information. As people adopted and used technology to be resilient we found a merging of old and new cultural practices. We discuss these systemic changes and describe implications for how technology can support people in being resilient when their environment is disrupted.
Mark, G., Al-Ani, B., Semaan, B. (2009). Repairing Human Infrastructure in War Zones. In the Proceedings of the Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management ISCRAM 2009 (Gothenburg, May 10-13, 2009).
People depend on human infrastructure for a range of activities in their daily lives, such as work and socializing. In this paper we consider three different intertwined types of infrastructures of a society that may be affected in crisis situations: the physical, technological, and human infrastructures. We argue that when the human infrastructure is damaged, e.g. in a natural catastrophe or war, then people can switch reliance to the technological infrastructure to be resilient. We conducted an empirical study of 85 people who lived in war zones during the 2006 Israeli-Lebanon war and the ongoing Gulf war in Iraq. In this paper, we report how information technology is used by our informants in new ways in their attempt to maintain social relationships and continue working. Our informants also used technology to help navigate safe routes for travel and for psychological support. We discuss implications of our results for disaster research.
Liu, S. and Palen, L. (2009). Spatiotemporal Mashups: A Survey of Current Tools to Inform Next Generation Crisis Support. Proceedings of the 2009 Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management Conference (ISCRAM 2009), Gothenberg, Sweden (~5000 words).
Developments in information and communication technology (ICT) have adjusted the opportunities for spatial and temporal representations of data, possibly permitting the simultaneous visualization of how different regions and populations are affected during large-scale emergencies and crises. We surveyed 13 crisis-related mashups to derive some high-level design directions to guide the design and testing of next generation crisis support tools. The current web mashups offer a new way of looking at how crises are spatiotemporally ordered. However, since all technology is constrained by limitations of design choice, examining the limits and possibilities of what current design choices afford can inform attributes of what next generation crisis support tools would require.
Hughes, A. and Palen, L. (2009). Twitter Adoption and Use in Mass Convergence and Emergency Events. Proceedings of the 2009 Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management Conference (ISCRAM 2009), Gothenberg, Sweden, (~5000 words)
This paper offers a descriptive account of Twitter (a micro-blogging service) across four high profile, mass convergence events—two emergency and two national security. We statistically examine how Twitter is being used surrounding these events, and compare and contrast how that behavior is different from more general Twitter use. Our findings suggest that Twitter messages sent during these types of events contain more displays of information broadcasting and brokerage, and we observe that general Twitter use seems to have evolved over time to offer more of an information-sharing purpose. We also provide preliminary evidence that Twitter users who join during and in apparent relation to a mass convergence or emergency event are more likely to become long-term adopters of the technology.
Liu, S., Palen, L., Sutton, J., Hughes, A., and Vieweg, S. (2009). Citizen Photojournalism During Crisis Events. In Allan, S. and Thorsen, E. (Eds.), Citizen Journalism: Global Perspectives. New York: Peter Lang.
Palen, L., and Vieweg, S. (2008). The Emergence of Online Widescale Interaction in Unexpected Events: Assistance, Alliance and Retreat (long paper). In the 2008 ACM Proceedings of Computer Supported Cooperative Work Conference.
This paper examines online, widescale interaction during an emergency event of national interest. Widescale interaction describes the potential for broad, immediate, and varied participation that the conditions of online forums, and social networking sites in particular, increasingly allow. Here, we examine a group on a popular social networking site as a virtual destination in the aftermath of the Northern Illinois University (NIU) shootings of February 14, 2008 in relation to related activity that happened in response to the Virginia Tech (VT) tragedy 10 months earlier. We consider features of interactions that are enabled when a vast audience converges under such conditions. We discuss how commiseration and information seeking are interrelated, and how geographical communities that share a common experience ally in such a public, online setting.
Hughes, A., L. Palen, J. Sutton, S. Liu, & S. Vieweg. “Site-Seeing” in Disaster: An Examination of On-Line Social Convergence. Proc. of Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management Conference (ISCRAM) 2008.
Mark, G., Semaan, B. (2008). Resilience in Collaboration: Technology as a Resource for New Patterns of Action. In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work CSCW 2008 (San Diego, November 8-12, 2008).
In CSCW, there has been little or no attention given to how people use technology to restore collaborations when there is a major environmental disruption. We are especially interested in studying resilience in collaboration–the extent to which people continue to collaborate with work groups or to socialize despite prolonged disruption. We conducted an empirical study of people living in two countries that experienced prolonged disruption through war in their work and personal lives. We describe how technology played a major role in providing people with alternative resources to reconstruct, modify, and develop new routines, or patterns of action, for work and socializing. People created new assemblages of technological and physical resources. We discuss how the use of new resources in creating new routines led to more of a reliance on virtual work and in some cases to deeper structural changes.
Shklovski, I., Palen, L., and Sutton, J. (2008). Finding Community Through Information and Communication Technology in Disaster Events (long paper). In the 2008 ACM Proceedings of Computer Supported Cooperative Work Conference.
Disasters affect not only the welfare of individuals and family groups, but also the well-being of communities, and can serve as a catalyst for innovative uses of information and communication technology (ICT). In this paper, we present evidence of ICT use for re-orientation toward the community and for the production of public goods in the form of information dissemination during disasters. Results from this study of information seeking practices by members of the public during the October 2007 Southern California wildfires suggest that ICT use provides a means for communicating community-relevant information especially when members become geographically dispersed, leveraging and even building community resources in the process. In the presence of pervasive ICT, people are developing new practices for emergency response by using ICT to address problems that arise from information dearth and geographical dispersion. In doing so, they find community by reconnecting with others who share their concern for the locale threatened by the hazard.
Liu, S., Palen, L., Sutton, J., Hughes, A, and Vieweg, S. (2008). In Search of the Bigger Picture: The Emergent Role of On-Line Photo-Sharing in Times of Disaster. Proceedings of the Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management Conference (ISCRAM 2008).* (**Tied for best student paper award**)
Eyewitness photography is increasingly playing a more significant role in disaster response and recovery efforts. This research elaborates on the ways in which members of the public participate during times of disaster by closely examining the evolving role of a prominent photo-sharing website, Flickr, in events that have occurred since its launch in February 2004. We discuss features of Flickr’s emerging evolutionary growth as a community forum for disaster-related grassroots activity based on the findings from our qualitative study of 29 groups across six disasters over Flickr’s nearly three-year lifespan. Our findings discuss efforts toward the development of norms that attempt to guide the nature of social practice around photographic content during disaster response and recovery effort.
Vieweg, S., Palen, L., Liu, S., Hughes, A., and Sutton, J. (2008). Collective Intelligence in Disaster: An Examination of the Phenomenon in the Aftermath of the 2007 Virginia Tech Shootings. Proceedings of the Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management Conference (ISCRAM 2008). * (**Tied for best student paper award**)
We report on the results of an investigation about the “informal,” public-side communications that occurred in the aftermath of the April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech (VT) Shooting. Our on-going research reveals several examples of on-line social interaction organized around the goal of collective problem-solving. In this paper, we focus on specific instances of this distributed problem-solving activity, and explain, using an ethnomethodological lens, how a loosely connected group of people can work together on a grave topic to provide accurate results.
Palen, L., and Liu, S. (2007). Citizen Communications in Crisis: Anticipating a Future of ICT-Supported Participation. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems CHI 2007, 727-736. Download
Recent world-wide crisis events have drawn new attention to the role information communication technology (ICT) can play in warning and response activities. Drawing on disaster social science, we consider a critical aspect of post-impact disaster response that does not yet receive much information science research attention. Public participation is an emerging, large-scale arena for computer-mediated interaction that has implications for both informal and formal response. With a focus on persistent citizen communications as one form of interaction in this arena, we describe their spatial and temporal arrangements, and how the emerging information pathways that result serve different post-impact functions. However, command-and-control models do not easily adapt to the expanding data-generating and -seeking activities by the public. ICT in disaster contexts will give further rise to improvised activities and temporary organizations with which formal response organizations need to align.