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Uninformed - Hardcover - Arthur Lupia - Oxford University Press
Research polls, media interviews, and everyday conversations reveal an unsettling truth: citizens, while well-meaning and even passionate about current affairs, appear to know very little about politics. Hundreds of surveys document vast numbers of citizens answering even basic questions about government incorrectly. Given this unfortunate state of affairs, it is not surprising that more knowledgeable people often deride the public for its ignorance. Some experts even think that less informed citizens should stay out of politics altogether.

As Arthur Lupia shows in Uninformed, this is not constructive. At root, critics of public ignorance fundamentally misunderstand the problem. Many experts believe that simply providing people with more facts will make them more competent voters. However, these experts fail to understand how most people learn, and hence don't really know what types of information are even relevant to voters. Feeding them information they don't find relevant does not address the problem. In other words, before educating the public, we need to educate the educators.

Lupia offers not just a critique, though; he also has solutions. Drawing from a variety of areas of research on topics like attention span and political psychology, he shows how we can actually increase issue competence among voters in areas ranging from gun regulation to climate change. To attack the problem, he develops an arsenal of techniques to effectively convey to people information they actually care about.

Citizens sometimes lack the knowledge that they need to make competent political choices, and it is undeniable that greater knowledge can improve decision making. But we need to understand that voters either don't care about or pay attention to much of the information that experts think is important. Uninformed provides the keys to improving political knowledge and civic competence: understanding what information is important to and knowing how to best convey it to them.

-- based on the description, the overly optimistic conclusion that one could engineer interventions to improve *decision making* is a bit too much for me. *Some* political scientists seem to consider the author's work important. Also, his enthusiasm for open science based research is much appreciated. But I am literally judging his book by the cover!
book  political_science  political_psychology  collective_action  intervention  public_sphere  democracy 
february 2019 by rvenkat
Misinformation and Mass Audiences Edited by Brian G. Southwell, Emily A. Thorson, and Laura Sheble
Lies and inaccurate information are as old as humanity, but never before have they been so easy to spread. Each moment of every day, the Internet and broadcast media purvey misinformation, either deliberately or accidentally, to a mass audience on subjects ranging from politics to consumer goods to science and medicine, among many others. Because misinformation now has the potential to affect behavior on a massive scale, it is urgently important to understand how it works and what can be done to mitigate its harmful effects.

Misinformation and Mass Audiences brings together evidence and ideas from communication research, public health, psychology, political science, environmental studies, and information science to investigate what constitutes misinformation, how it spreads, and how best to counter it. The expert contributors cover such topics as whether and to what extent audiences consciously notice misinformation, the possibilities for audience deception, the ethics of satire in journalism and public affairs programming, the diffusion of rumors, the role of Internet search behavior, and the evolving efforts to counteract misinformation, such as fact-checking programs. The first comprehensive social science volume exploring the prevalence and consequences of, and remedies for, misinformation as a mass communication phenomenon, Misinformation and Mass Audiences will be a crucial resource for students and faculty researching misinformation, policymakers grappling with questions of regulation and prevention, and anyone concerned about this troubling, yet perhaps unavoidable, dimension of current media systems.
book  misinformation  disinformation  media_studies  public_sphere  contagion  social_psychology  journalism  dmce  networks  teaching 
november 2017 by rvenkat
The Brexit Botnet and User-Generated Hyperpartisan NewsSocial Science Computer Review - Marco T. Bastos, Dan Mercea, 2017
In this article, we uncover a network of Twitterbots comprising 13,493 accounts that tweeted the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, only to disappear from Twitter shortly after the ballot. We compare active users to this set of political bots with respect to temporal tweeting behavior, the size and speed of retweet cascades, and the composition of their retweet cascades (user-to-bot vs. bot-to-bot) to evidence strategies for bot deployment. Our results move forward the analysis of political bots by showing that Twitterbots can be effective at rapidly generating small- to medium-sized cascades; that the retweeted content comprises user-generated hyperpartisan news, which is not strictly fake news, but whose shelf life is remarkably short; and, finally, that a botnet may be organized in specialized tiers or clusters dedicated to replicating either active users or content generated by other bots.

a dilute version here,500-strong-twitterbot-army-disappeared-shortly-after-eu-referendum,-research-reveals

and here
bots  european_politics  artificial_intelligence  social_media  social_networks  twitter  public_opinion  public_sphere  cybersecurity  international_affairs  via:henryfarrell  networks  teaching 
october 2017 by rvenkat
Public Knowledge |
Public Knowledge is an expansive, multi-faceted project that aims to promote public dialogue about the cultural impact of urban and technological change and the role of public institutions in these turbulent times in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Bringing together artists, librarians, scholars, and community collaborators and partners from many backgrounds, it is spearheaded by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library.

The Public Knowledge initiative explores the tectonic economic, social, and cultural shifts transforming San Francisco, the factors involved in the changes taking place, and the stakes involved in surviving, resisting, adapting, and trying to shape these changes. Valuing the unique contribution that artistic thinking and practice can make to public conversations, the project will unfold over two years of artists in residence, free talks, discussions, workshops, performances, and other events in neighborhoods and libraries throughout the city. Together we will explore how contemporary art can illuminate issues of concern to our community, and create spaces for new conversations, both locally and farther afield.

In a time when providing access to public information and social engagement, once a key role of public institutions, is now being taken over by technology, the Public Knowledge project recognizes that people seem to be abandoning public institutions, and ambitiously seeks to examine the historic role of public institutions and reinvigorate their relevance today. By experimenting with new ways of forging relationships and nurturing connections, we look to act as a catalyst for participants to exchange ideas and learn from one another, and together to develop new approaches to strengthening the fabric of civic life.

The project will have a physical location at a new pop-up Public Knowledge Library, a temporary branch of the public library at SFMOMA where visitors can engage with all kinds of related materials, and an online location where anyone interested can learn more and participate.
libraries  museums  epistemology  public_sphere  discourse 
september 2017 by shannon_mattern
Free Speech in the Algorithmic Society: Big Data, Private Governance, and New School Speech Regulation by Jack M. Balkin :: SSRN
We have now moved from the early days of the Internet to the Algorithmic Society. The Algorithmic Society features the use of algorithms, artificial intelligence agents, and Big Data to govern populations. It also features digital infrastructure companies, large multi-national social media platforms, and search engines that sit between traditional nation states and ordinary individuals, and serve as special-purpose governors of speech.

The Algorithmic Society presents two central problems for freedom of expression. First, Big Data allows new forms of manipulation and control, which private companies will attempt to legitimate and insulate from regulation by invoking free speech principles. Here First Amendment arguments will likely be employed to forestall digital privacy guarantees and prevent consumer protection regulation. Second, privately owned digital infrastructure companies and online platforms govern speech much as nation states once did. Here the First Amendment, as normally construed, is simply inadequate to protect the practical ability to speak.

The first part of the essay describes how to regulate online businesses that employ Big Data and algorithmic decision making consistent with free speech principles. Some of these businesses are "information fiduciaries" toward their end-users; they must exercise duties of good faith and non-manipulation. Other businesses who are not information fiduciaries have a duty not to engage in "algorithmic nuisance": they may not externalize the costs of their analysis and use of Big Data onto innocent third parties.

The second part of the essay turns to the emerging pluralist model of online speech regulation. This pluralist model contrasts with the traditional dyadic model in which nation states regulated the speech of their citizens.

In the pluralist model, territorial governments continue to regulate the speech directly. But they also attempt to coerce or co-opt owners of digital infrastructure to regulate the speech of others. This is "new school" speech regulation. Digital infrastructure owners, and especially social media companies, now act as private governors of speech communities, creating and enforcing various rules and norms of the communities they govern. Finally, end users, civil society organizations, hackers, and other private actors repeatedly put pressure on digital infrastructure companies to regulate speech in certain ways and not to regulate it in others. This triangular tug of war -- rather than the traditional dyadic model of states regulating the speech of private parties -- characterizes the practical ability to speak in the algorithmic society.

The essay uses the examples of the right to be forgotten and the problem of fake news to illustrate the emerging pluralist model -- and new school speech regulation -- in action.

As private governance becomes central to freedom of speech, both end-users and nation states put pressure on private governance. Nation states attempt to co-opt private companies into becoming bureaucracies for the enforcement of hate speech regulation and new doctrines like the right to be forgotten. Conversely, end users increasingly demand procedural guarantees, due process, transparency, and equal protection from private online companies.

The more that end-users view businesses as governors, or as special-purpose sovereigns, the more end-users will expect -- and demand -- that these companies should conform to the basic obligations of governors towards those they govern. These obligations include procedural fairness in handling complaints and applying sanctions, notice, transparency, reasoned explanations, consistency, and conformity to rule of law values -- the “law” in this case being the publicly stated norms and policies of the company. Digital infrastructure companies, in turn, will find that they must take on new social obligations to meet these growing threats and expectations from nation states and end-users alike.
freedom_of_speech  internet  regulation  governance  administrative_state  big_data  algorithms  privacy  data  artificial_intelligence  machine_learning  ethics  philosophy_of_technology  new_media  social_media  networked_public_sphere  public_sphere  GAFA 
september 2017 by rvenkat

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