Faculty and students participate in 2013 iConference in Texas!


The School of Information Sciences is well-represented at the iConference, February 12-15, in Fort Worth, Texas. This annual conference, hosted this year by the College of Information at the University of North Texas, brings together researchers and administrators from the international consortium of higher education institutions that address information. This year’s theme is “Scholarship in Action: Data, Innovation, and Wisdom.”

Our school has numerous faculty and students participating in the conference by presenting papers or posters, hosting alternate events and workshops, and other iConference sessions. The School of Information Sciences is one of the founding members of the iSchools consortium and continues to play a role in this vibrant association of schools which offer research and educational programs addressing information and the tools to manage it.

Leanne Bowler, Session Chair

“Whither the Child? The iSchool Approach to Research Relating to Children and Adolescents”

This alternative event will investigate how iSchools are approaching research in the area of children and adolescents. Participants will work together to tackle this overarching question: Where does youth research fit in to the iSchool movement? Participants will be asked to contribute to the development of a collaborative agenda for youth-related research in the iSchools by identifying related challenges and opportunities within the iSchool community.

Daqing He, Paper Author

“A Study on Q & A Services Between Community-based Question Answering and Collaborative Digital Reference in Two Languages”

To explore further improvement of libraries’ reference services in the Web 2.0 environment, we systematically compared community-based question answering (cQA) sites with collaborative digital reference (cDR) services in English and Chinese languages. We employed a sampling method where we asked a set of questions of four different types and in three domains at selected cQA and cDR sites. The focus of the study includes evaluation of the answer quality and the responsiveness of the sites to the questions. Our results show that cQA sites provide more answers within shorter response times, and they are probably better suited to answer questions about everyday life or questions with easy answers. In contrast cDR services are augmented by better trained librarians, well organized working procedure, and more extensive information sources, so they produce more effective services. We finally hypothesize ideas of combining cQA and cDR under the goal of further improving cDR services.

Shuaguang Han, Zhen Yue, Daqing He, Poster Authors

“Automatic Identifying Search Tactic in Individual Information Seeking: A Hidden Markov Model Approach”

Leanne Bowler and Eleanor Mattern, Poster Authors

“Exploring Cyberbullying Through Visual Narratives”

This study examined the use of visual narratives as a method to explore young people’s views about cyberbullying. Two focus groups – a group of five teens in high school and a group of undergraduates– used storytelling and sketching to frame their perceptions of cyberbullying around a narrative and to propose design features that might afford young people the time to pause and reflect on their actions in social media before they participate in cyberbullying.

Amirreza Masoumzadeh, Lei Jin, James Joshi, Rose Constantino, Poster Authors

“HELPP Zone: Towards Protecting College Students from Dating Violence”

Dating violence is a type of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) which is a serious, preventable public health and social justice issue. If dating violence is left unchecked, it can bring short term and long term negative effects to survivors, especially college students who are developing emotionally. We built a mobile application called HELPP Zone (Health, Education on safety, and Legal Participant Preferred) for college students to protect them against potential dating violence. In the HELPP Zone, a user can set a list of trusted contacts and her schedule, and reach them for help based on the context (user’s location, schedule and status) when potential violence occurs. The HELLP Zone is our first step towards creating a platform to end dating violence.

Patrick M. Dudas, Martijn de Jongh, Peter Brusilovsky, Paper Authors

“Visualizing Overlapping Latent Communities Using POI-Based Visualizations”

Social network analysis and social network visualizations can provide a meaningful statistical and topological understanding of latent communities. However, the majority of current visualization approaches just represent sub-communities as clusters of closely related nodes in a node-link diagram and embed limitations to represent overlapping communities and multi-layer community structure frequently found from modern complex networks. We argue that visualizations based on points of interest can provide a better solution to represent overlapping latent sub-communities. We present two visualization systems, SuperVIBE and ContextForces, which implement this approach. These systems operate by creating two-dimensional latent spaces by means of grouping nodes using external variables not presented in the graph and by offering an interactive visualization to filter and map in these latent spaces. Understanding which latent groups are most central to a variety of topics and providing visual clues to the individuals critical to those groups provides a mechanism to explore and discover overlapping latent communities.

Claudia López, Rosta Farzan, Shaghayegh Sahebi, Peter Brusilovsky, Paper Authors

“What Influences the Decision to Participate in Audience-bounded Online Communities?”

Building online communities to support small, audience-bounded offline social structures such as neighborhoods or organizations can be challenging. Due to the small size of their potential audience, the contribution volume is likely to be insufficient to maintain a sustainable community-driven system. In our research, we are interested in studying how different characteristics of the offline structure of these communities can influence their online behavior. Particularly, we analyzed participation of researchers in a social system for conferences. Our analysis shows that centrality in the academic social structure is a significant predictor of the likelihood to accept an invitation to participate in the system. These results suggest that an understanding of the users’ offline context can increase the effectiveness of user engagement strategies in an online context.

Brian Beaton, Paper Author

“Citizen Science Online Gaming: Work or Play?” or “Some of the Values in the Design of Web-based Citizen Science Games: The Case of Phylo”

This paper concerns citizen science. It investigates some of the values built into the design of web-based citizen science games, with a focus on a game called Phylo. Using methods from science communication studies and the interdisciplinary field of science and technology studies (STS), the paper offers a close reading and content analysis of a peer-reviewed scientific article written by Phylo’s creators. The article is entitled “Phylo: A Citizen Science Approach for Improving Multiple Sequence Alignment” (2012). In the article, the creators of Phylo explain how the game allows citizen scientists to assist with research in evolutionary biology under the guise of solving puzzles. Results of the content analysis suggest that Phylo’s creators have a negative view of wider gaming culture. The results also suggest that Phylo players are conceptualized as human resources. These findings will contribute to knowledge about citizen science game development. Understanding how the creators of citizen science games view gaming and gamers can help us understand the conceptual limits that exist for improving upon such games. This paper shows that some citizen science game developers view citizen science as a work formation.

Patrick M. Dudas, Paper Author

“Cooperative, Dynamic Twitter Parsing and Visualization for Dark Network Analysis”

Developing a network based on Twitter data for social network analysis (SNA) is a common task in most academic domains. The need for real-time analysis is not as prevalent due to the fact that researchers are interested in the analysis of Twitter information after a major event or for an overall statistical or sociological study of general Twitter users. Dark network analysis is a specific field that focuses on criminal, terroristic, or people of interest networks in which evaluating information quickly and making decisions from this information is crucial. We propose a platform and visualization called Dynamic Twitter Network Analysis (DTNA) that incorporates real-time information from Twitter, its subsequent network topology, geographical placement of geotagged tweets on a Google Map, and storage for long-term analysis. The platform provides a SNA visualization that allows the user to interpret and change the search criteria quickly based on visual aesthetic properties built from key dark network utilities.

Jiepu Jiang, Daqing He, Shuguang Han, Wei Jeng, Paper Authors

“Is the Article Crucial to My Research? Evaluating Task-Oriented Impacts of Scientific Articles in Information Seeking”

We propose a new aspect of evaluating scientific articles: crucialness, which refers to the state of articles being not only useful, but also scarce (difficult to be found or identified by scientists). Compared with the popularity-based metrics, crucialness may be a better metric in helping scientists’ information seeking and use because it identifies scientists’ difficulties in information seeking and reveals the crucial articles that may help scientists succeed in research. Some preliminary results are presented and discussed.
Information seeking process is an important topic in information seeking behavior research. Both qualitative and empirical methods have been adopted in analyzing information seeking processes, with major focus on uncovering the latent search tactics behind user behaviors. Most of the existing works require defining search tactics in advance and coding data manually. Among the few works that can recognize search tactics automatically, they missed making sense of those tactics. In this paper, we proposed using an automatic technique, i.e. the Hidden Markov Model (HMM), to explicitly model the search tactics. HMM results show that the identified search tactics of individual information seeking behaviors are consistent with Marchionini’s Information seeking process model. With the advantages of showing the connections between search tactics and search actions and the transitions among search tactics, we argue that HMM is a useful tool to investigate information seeking process, or at least it provides a feasible way to analyze large scale dataset.

Leanne Bowler, Session Chair

“Plan/play/pressure/pause. Engaging creative information practices”

This alternative event is one of a series of successful iConference sessions developing a discourse that recognizes and appreciates what the creative milieu described by Howkins (2009) and Florida (2001) means for our creative information practices. Collectively, these events frame a new research area to engage and envision investigations into those practices. The 2013 event critically engages participants in creative practices by drawing upon Anderson’s 4P heuristic (plan, play, pressure, pause) to scaffold creative engagements. Each of these “Ps” represents a different way of engaging with information. Working on the premise that having a mix of the four is critical in nurturing an innovative culture, participants are invited to become more mindful of the mix that might best suit their own contexts: be it in their personal practice or the practice of the communities they wish to serve. To wrap-up, participants envision next steps in this emerging research area.

Chirag Sha, Daqing He, Jung-Sun Oh, Session Participants

“Collaboration in action: Enabling innovative scholarship with social and crowdsourcing services”

With an exponentially growing set of e-services and social networks that allow people to be not only consumers, but also producers of information, information seeking and sharing behaviors are rapidly changing. Innovations in areas such as information exchange and knowledge management are coming from scholarship in data sciences, and the “wisdom of the crowd” has become more than a passing trend. The focus of this event would be to discuss the latest developments in the field of social media and crowdsourcing specific to information seeking, knowledge management, and innovative methods for collaborative question-answering. Specifically, the event will facilitate discussions about and engage the audience in topics such as social search, community-based question-answering, and hybrid models for information seeking. These discussions will be guided by the organizers who come from a variety of backgrounds, institutions, and research areas.

Martin Weiss, Chair

Research Paper Development Roundtable

Zhen Yue, Wei Jeng, Jiepu Jiang, Shuguang Han, Daqing He, Presenters

“UPitt iRiS Lab at iConference Social Media Expo: Search, Share, and Learn the Way You Want”