PhD Proposal by Yixuan (Janice) Zhang

Primary tabs

PhD Thesis Proposal Announcement     Title: The Coevolution of Crisis Information Infrastructures and Online Trust among Marginalized Populations  Date: Friday, January 21, 2022 Time: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM ET Location (remote via Zoom) click here to join      Yixuan (Janice) Zhang  PhD student, Human-Centered Computing  School of Interactive Computing Georgia Institute of Technology     Committee: Dr. Andrea G. Parker (advisor), School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology  Dr. Rebecca E. Grinter, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology  Dr. Neha Kumar, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology  Dr. Leysia Palen, Departments of Information Science and Computer Science, University of Colorado Boulder       Abstract: Mass emergencies and crises increasingly pose significant threats to human life and are diverse in nature---ranging from global public health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic to more localized emergencies such as gas explosions, to infodemics characterized by the rapid and far-reaching false and misleading information during a crisis. While these crises have significant impacts on populations generally, they pose disproportionate threats to the physical, social, and economic wellbeing of traditionally marginalized groups, such as older adults and low-socioeconomic status communities.    Information plays a key role in helping people overcome crises as information shapes people's adaptive capacity, and affects how people understand, perceive, and act on information to mitigate the impacts of the crises. During a crisis, risk and other critical information is communicated, received, interpreted, and shared through multiple channels, supported by existing ICTs and information infrastructures, such as television, radio, the Internet, social media, and emerging crowdsourced platforms created from the ground up in response to crises. These and other platforms constitute the key crisis information infrastructures--networks of sociotechnical systems that facilitate information and communication during crises.      Research in HCI has examined people's behaviors and their perceptions of, attitudes towards, and trust in existing ICTs and information infrastructures during crises. This body of work has typically presumed a static relationship between the presence or absence of trust and people’s behaviors. However, information appraisals are necessarily dynamic, particularly amidst rapidly evolving scenarios like disasters and crises. As such, there is a need to investigate the ways in which people's perceptions of and trust towards crisis information infrastructures evolve and are shaped by their changing information-seeking and assessment practices. Additionally, there has been little work examining how well existing ICTs and information infrastructures are serving traditionally marginalized communities. Therefore, to fill in these research gaps, this dissertation will focus on the evolution of public trust and information infrastructures, by investigating how people's perceptions and trust shape, and are shaped by, the information infrastructures, and how they change over time.   This thesis proposal presents the results of three completed studies and describes two proposed studies, using a variety of empirical methods. Specifically, we first describe findings that characterize how people's interactions with, perceptions of, and trust towards ICTs and crisis information infrastructures evolve over time, alongside the evolving landscape of information infrastructures. Building on this completed work, one proposed study will further investigate the ways in which trust in social media among marginalized communities coevolve with social media platforms' evolutionary trajectories amidst the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to examining the shifts in people's perceptions of and trust towards crisis information infrastructures from information consumers' perspectives, we also examine the evolution of information production and the resulting products from information producers' perspectives. Drawing upon insights generated from the completed work that empirically maps the landscape of COVID-19 crisis visualizations--an emerging, integral, and essential component of crisis information infrastructures, another proposed study seeks to uncover the invisible forces behind COVID-19 data trackers. This study will generate insights into how to create and maintain resilient and sustainable information infrastructures under conditions of significant stress.    Collectively, this dissertation contributes to HCI and crisis informatics research through 1) an in-depth understanding of the ways in which people's perceptions on, trust towards, and interactions with information and communication technologies and crisis information infrastructures shift alongside the evolution of crisis information infrastructures, focused on marginalized populations, and 2) a set of design implications for creating information technologies and building information infrastructures that can foster public trust and help people navigate through crises. 


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Tatianna Richardson
  • Created: 01/10/2022
  • Modified By: Tatianna Richardson
  • Modified: 01/10/2022