How information travels in a digital environment? Highlights from ICA, 2015

Even though my current research does not deal with big data, I decided to participate in a preconference titled, “Computational Approaches to Advance Communication Research’

One of the papers that caught my attention was Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch’s, “Computational Approaches for Understanding Content Sharing on Social Networking Sites.’ Oeldorf-Hirsch’s, who is an Assistant Professor at University of Connecticut, is interested in studying the distribution of news in social networking sites (SNS). Her current research is driven by an interest in studying effect of increasing reliance on SNS as news source on citizen engagement.

Since SNSs have become a common way of both reading and sharing news, it is a natural trend that many young, who have never really been in the habit of reading a ‘print newspaper’, restrict their news reading to the ones that their connections have posted online, rather than seeking news on their favorite websites. This trend can have implications for political, social and cultural understanding and conduct in the long run.

This paper was particularly interesting because my research is based in the argument that in reading the news, citizens are driven by their own level of knowledge and interest. To mobilize citizens, news organizations must consider providing information at varying levels to engage citizens with different levels of political orientation (politically passive, informed and highly engaged).

If SNS as a variable affects the way people consume news (passively consuming vs. actively seeking), will there be a difference in the understanding of news events or political engagement, between those who read consume news passively and those who actively seek news?

Oeldorf-Hirsch’s research is currently under progress and I will be following her work.

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