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)
Liu, Sophia, 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, Chandos Publishing.
St. Denis, Amanda Hughes and Leysia Palen (2012). Trial By Fire: The Deployment of Trusted Digital Volunteers in the 2011 Shadow Lake Fire To appear in the Proceedings of the Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM 2012), Vancouver, BC.
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.
Liu, S. B. (2010). The Rise of Curated Crisis Content. Short paper presented at the 7th Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (ISCRAM) Conference (Seattle, Washington, USA, May 2010). ISCRAM 2010.
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.
Sicker, Douglas C., Blumensaadt, L., Grunwald, D., Palen, L. and Anderson, K. (2010). Policy Issues Facing the Use of Social Network Information During Times of Crisis. The 38th Annual Telecommunications Policy Research Conference (TPRC) for Public Safety and Emergency session (October 1-3, 2010, Arlington, Virginia).
However, if mechanisms are provided to enhance the users’ privacy and even offer the capability for anonymous information contributions, it is possible that malicious entities may exploit this anonymity and inject false and misleading information into information streams. It is worth noting that false information could be introduced into the system without these features; it is just that an anonymizing system removes the consequence of being identified. Fundamentally, establishing identity within a networked environment is a challenging problem. For instance, a classic problem within the field of reputation systems is the Sybil attack, which occurs when a single entity establishes a large number of identities, for instance, by adding a large number of nodes to a peer-to-peer network. This has implications on designing reputation systems to detect the injection of bad information by malicious parties, since it is always possible for them to simply add a new identity to the system to counteract any previous misbehavior. Given this fact, we take an alternate approach to determining reputable users and information during an event. We will look at two possible implicit reputation indicators, one using client location services and another using analysis methods based on network graphs and activity within networks. Using network analysis methods, it may be possible to infer location, influence and other attributes based on communication, context and association with others in the network. Data for these methods is available via public application programming interfaces (APIs) from some online social networks. Monitoring these public APIs during crisis situations, we are able to use these analysis methods to infer information about users as the crisis is evolving.
With the development of these tools, we must consider public policy issues that arise from this research. First, we ask what public policy issues emerge as a result of this vision of empirical research and development activities, and how they can be framed using a crisis informatics lens? Investigations of this kind require consideration about how crisis-related data is collected, analyzed and disseminated within the context of current federal and state laws, policies and regulations. Because information aggregation efforts may cross national borders, we will also take into account similar (and often more stringent) laws and policies in other countries. Important questions in this area center on issues of legal precedent, communications-related laws and policies, regulations and authorities regarding information dissemination during disasters and privacy and security issues. Other questions include how the policy context will affect our own information capture and aggregation methods. As an over-arching concern, we question whether it will be possible to design methods for capturing and processing diverse content ethically and in adherence of law, while also not creating new, insurmountable policy issues around information aggregation. Next, we ask what is the risk of legal liabilities that might arise. Who is responsible if the information is wrong? What if the system suppresses the dissemination of vital information? Does this constitute some type of negligence or a failure to adhere to required duty?
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., 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.
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.
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.
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.
Hughes, Amanda, Leysia Palen, Jeannette Sutton, Sophia Liu, and Sarah Vieweg. (2008). “Site-Seeing” in Disaster: An Examination of On-Line Social Convergence Proceedings of the Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management Conference (ISCRAM 2008).* (**Tied for best student paper award**)
On-line websites and applications are increasingly playing a role in disaster response and recovery. Yet with the wide variety of on-line grassroots activities that occur in such situations, it can be difficult to make sense of them. In this paper, we describe on-line behavior as socially convergent activity, interpreting it within existing sociological understandings of behavior in disaster events. We discuss seven types of convergent behavior and give examples of on-line activities for each type. By seeing these activities as an essential part of the disaster social arena, we can begin to think about how to support socially convergent phenomena in new and creative ways.
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.
Sutton, J., Palen, L., and Shklovski, I. (2008). Backchannels on the Front Lines: Emergent Use of Social Media in the 2007 Southern California Fires. Proceedings of the Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management Conference (ISCRAM 2008). *
Opportunities for participation by members of the public are expanding the information arena of disaster. Social media supports “backchannel” communications, allowing for wide-scale interaction that can be collectively resourceful, self-policing, and generative of information that is otherwise hard to obtain. Results from our study of information practices by members of the public during the October 2007 Southern California Wildfires suggest that community information resources and other backchannel communications activity enabled by social media are gaining prominence in the disaster arena, despite concern by officials about the legitimacy of information shared through such means. We argue that these emergent uses of social media are pre-cursors of broader future changes to the institutional and organizational arrangements of disaster response.
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.
Palen, L. (2008). Online Social Media in Crisis Events (short article). EDUCAUSE Quarterly, vol. 31, no. 3 (July–September 2008).
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.
Palen, L., Hiltz, S. R., and Liu, S. (2007). Online Forums Supporting Grassroots Participation in Emergency Preparedness and Response. Communications of the ACM, 50 (3) (Mar. 2007): 54-58. Download
“When danger arises, the rule in normal situations is for people to help those next to them before they help themselves.”