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Christian Jeschke:

Critical Reflection on Data: Evaluating a Software-based Methodology for Adolescents in Social Media

Requirements

  • Required: Solid experiences in web development (html/css/javascript, python) and proficiency in English
  • Preferred: Completion of the lecture on "User-Centered Design"/"Human-Computer Interaction I" and the lecture on "Wissenschaftliches Arbeiten in der Informatik" sowie "Empirische Bewertung in der Informatik"
Discipline
Information extraction, Empirical computer science, Data visualization
Degree
Master of Science (M.Sc.)

Contents

Context

In recent years, opinion-forming processes and the foundations of democratic decision-making by citizens have increasingly shifted to the Internet. However, especially in social media, opinions can be shaped and manipulated due to various factors (e.g., conspiracy theories, algorithmically-driven filter bubbles) [1, 2]. Various controversial groups use the algorithmically controlled dissemination of their content to spread their opinions in a targeted manner. Furthermore, the boundaries between truth and fiction, facts and lies are blurring: due to technological developments such as natural language processes and image manipulation, and a confusing abundance of information. When populist parties and nationalist ideas are on the rise again in Germany, we must contribute to the future of democracy and our youth. According to statistical data, approximately half of the four million young people in Germany between the ages of 16 - 18 can be reached on Instagram.

In the project Data Mirror, we will focus on developing a software-based method to limit the spread of disinformation by revealing information use and dissemination mechanisms. Through the so-called Data Mirror Experience (as a part of the Data Mirror Portal) adolescents between the ages of 16 and 18 are confronted with the mechanisms of data profiling through a personalized analysis of their Instagram data, embedded in an exciting story of monopolist control and personal rebellion. The goal is to educate them about the risk of data-driven disinformation campaigns and conspiracy narratives and to get them to question and ideally change their Internet behavior critically.

Problem

While many scientific studies are primarily conducted in a theoretical decontextualized laboratory space, we want to use the Data Mirror Experience to reach the target group and transfer the concept of Reflective Technologies (see [3]) practice. Data Mirror decelerates user interaction and encourages critical reflection as users learn how a technology works, why it works, and the consequences of its use. [4].

Objective

In the context of this project, this thesis is divided into three main steps: The first step is to make users aware that decisions are not made rationally, but are often guided by affect and influenced by prejudice. To evaluate this situation systematically, the process of reflection is organized into different levels of reflection [5]. In particular, this involves exploring the conditions for reflection (e.g., time, form, structure, encouragement) in the context of the Data Mirror Experience. In this context, the concept of the Data Mirror Experience and Portal will be technically evaluated. Finally, in an empirical field study (in the form of a media campaign) the concept will be specified, implemented and evaluated for its effectiveness in raising awareness among adolescents. This planned field study will be conducted on Instagram.

Cooperation partner

This work will be carried out alongside the production and in close collaboration with the Berlin-based Interactive Media Foundation and its production partners. As a non-profit organization, the creative studio's core competence is to combine storytelling and digital technologies that reach their target groups and provide their resources in the context of the master thesis.

The Interactive Media Foundation also offers Master students the opportunity to carry out this thesis as part of a working student position (40h/month).

Possible Procedure

  1. Conceptualization of the levels of reflection according to the Data Mirror Experience scenarios (based on the current state of research on reflective technologies)
  2. Technical evaluation of the concept using the Data Mirror Experience and Portal
  3. Specification of the strategy (A/B testing), implementation and evaluation of the empirical field study

References

[1] Sunstein, Cass. Republic.com 2.0. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007.

[2] Pariser, Eli. The Filter Bubble. London: Penguin, 2011.

[3] Baumer, Eric P. S. „Reflective Informatics: Conceptual Dimensions for Designing Technologies of Reflection“. Proc. of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM, 2015: 585–94. doi: 10.1145/2702123.2702234.

[4] Hallnäs, Lars, and Johan Redström. "Slow technology–designing for reflection." Personal and ubiquitous computing 5.3 2001: 201-212, doi: 10.1007/PL00000019

[5] Fleck, Rowanne, and Geraldine Fitzpatrick. „Reflecting on Reflection: Framing a Design Landscape“. Proc. of the 22nd Conference of the Computer-Human Interaction Special Interest Group of Australia on Computer-Human Interaction - OZCHI ’10, ACM Press, 2010: 216, doi: 10.1145/1952222.1952269.