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CSIS Seminar

Opportunities and Barriers to Facilitating Evidence-Based Discussion about Civic Issues

Speaker:   Brian McInnis, UC San Diego
When:   February 11, 2021, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Where:   Zoom


News websites have the potential to facilitate large scale evidence-based discussion about civic issues, like climate change, but the online discussions are often overrun by toxicity and misinformation. Even when people are not shouting at each other, online discussions about civic issues rarely focus on evidence, such as data and visualizations. In this talk, I will share our analysis of how people comment about climate change data in the discussion threads at three news websites (i.e., Breitbart news, the Guardian, the New York Times). The findings illustrate that data-centered talk, while rare, can provide valuable insights that could help center an online discussion around evidence—collection, analysis, and visual representation—to engage with an article’s narrative. My research explores how techniques from crowdsourcing offer a potential way to promote and encourage evidence-based discussion. I will draw examples from my own work studying news websites, collaboration platforms, and in-the-wild civic initiatives to review critical system design opportunities and barriers. Join Zoom Meeting https://gmu.zoom.us/j/92762161280?pwd=dlZOc1JQdzdLWXBpU2tZVUpSTmdwZz09 Meeting ID: 927 6216 1280 Passcode: 742156

Speaker Bio

Dr. Brian McInnis is a postdoctoral scholar at UC San Diego and a member of the Design Lab. Brian explores how to help people collaboratively build insights around policy concerns. Brian earned his PhD in Information Science from Cornell University in 2019 where his thesis investigated how people build insights around policy concern through a series of studies that involved crowd workers in online discussions related to the AMT participation agreement. Prior to joining Cornell, Brian worked at the RAND Corporation, where he studied a range of public policy issues—from the design of youth summer learning programs to predictive policing techniques. Brian earned his Masters of Public Policy from Vanderbilt University's Peabody College of Education as well as a dual Bachelors in Economics and History from the University of California at Davis.