Hi there, my name is Jennifer Baker and I'm faculty in the Department of Information Science. This week you're going to be hearing from faculty in the College of media communication and information as we explore how media and technology influence how we connect and communicate with each other. In this video, I'm going to talk with you about our relationship with information. That might be a kind of funny thing to think about but the pandemic has fundamentally changed how we are exposed to an experience information in our everyday lives. I'm going to talk with you about some of the principles behind how that information is presented to you and give you some tips for thinking about how you can be a more savvy consumer of that information. Next, you're going to hear from Samir Rajavi from the Department of media studies. Sameera is going to take you through some principles around media literacy. And she's going to offer some creative ways to reframe how you think about your own consumption of media. She's also going to give you some tips and some tricks to triangulate your media resources in order to help you come up with a better and healthier media diet. Finally we're going to wrap up the week hearing from Leah spraying from the Department of communication Lee is going to consider how we engage in Cobb like controversies around covid-19 systemic racism. She's going to look at how those controversies get constructed as politicize topics and then suggest some ways around how we can use our own and listening as a way to respond, the world has changed a lot outside of our doors, but it's also changed a lot online. And through each of these talks, you'll see new ways you can connect and benefit from those spaces so today, I want to talk to you about the human side. COVID-19 data, I want to talk with you about what happens when there's all this information running around online. I want to introduce the concept of knowledge compression and then I want to talk with you about some of the things you can do to manage some of the negative aspects of our current information environment. Now this is all very personal for me as an information scientist, I study our online lives. In fact, informational science as a field focuses on studying how people interact with everything digital, we learn how to collect, and analyze, and interpret, and use the data that shapes the world around us. Information science draws on the social sciences and on the humanities and on computer science and our mission is to imagine what today's technology can make possible and to innovate. That new kinds of technology to address the world's social problems as a researcher, I study our online identities, I study how people connect with each other through technology and how they use technology as they transition throughout their lives important for today, I also studied what happens when those lives come to an end. I study the role of technology at the end of life and how we use online spaces to connect, to mourn and to grieve those we loved. At the end of the day, as an information scientist, I want to use information and technology, To help people. Admirable? I'd like to think so, but actually, this ends up putting me in a bit of a bind. You see, we're not only in the middle of a pandemic, we're also in the middle of an infodemic, and this infodemic, it's moving faster than the virus, and it actually might be more deadly. So, what is an infodemic? Well, an infodemic is an excessive amount of information about a problem, making it difficult to identify an appropriate solution. While COVID spreads through respiratory droplets, information spreads at the speed of light through global networks with borders that are harder to control. During a health emergency, an infodemic can drown out reliable information, and that results in rumours spreading more easily. The result is false information, conspiracy theories, all of which breed uncertainty you've heard that apparently COVID is coming from 5g cell towers not true. COVID apparently was created as a biological weapon, that's also not true, death rates are inflated the hydroxy chloroquine well that's secure and well, maybe even COVID 19 doesn't exist at all. None of these are true yet they run around online and gain in popularity as people spread them it turns out that they aren't just simple harmless rumors. All of these get in the way of a coordinated and effective public health campaign. We are not hearing the information we need to because all of this stuff is drowning it out. But why are we also susceptible to this false information right now? Well, to put it simply, we have questions that need answers and we need information that just doesn't exist right now. See if any of these questions sound familiar where did this virus come from, how much risk am I in, Is it safe to order that takeout, I have a bit of a sniffle, is it allergies, or have I caught the virus? And if I've caught the virus, and then I've gotten better, well, how long will I be immune? And when is that vaccine coming and how long is that going to be good for? The fact is that we want answers and it turns out that we're hardwired to accept pour answers over not having any answers at all. We all want to make sure that we're making wise choices but sometimes it's hard to know what those even are. If you ever had the experience where you feel like there's all this information out there, there's all this data but you don't even know what to do with it. Well, actually, that's because there's a difference between data and information. In Information Science, we talk about the DIKW Pyramid it's a more nuanced way of looking at information. Let's take a look at it, this pyramid the data information, knowledge and wisdom pyramid builds from the bottom up, we start with data. Data are data points, discrete facts, observations for example, we might have a spreadsheet and it may have a list of all the people who have tested positive for COVID 19 and maybe. What county or city they live in but the data is just data. It's just a pile of data It doesn't become useful until we start asking questions of it. Information is what happens when we start asking questions of our data for example, we might ask, how many people in Boulder tested positive over the last week? Much of what you see in charts, or diagrams, or visualizations online around COVID-19, this is all information. Moving up the pyramid, knowledge is what happens when you take that information and you put it into action. For example, if we see that positive rates are rising week over week, well, we might decide to take some more preventative actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 Finally at the top of the pyramid is wisdom. If knowledge is about doing things than wisdom is about doing the right things. When do we shut down again, when is it safe to open up again? Many of the questions that we have the questions I was talking about earlier many of those questions about covid-19 are really about managing our personal risk and about doing what's right. But they don't just need information, they need wisdom and wisdom comes with experience and often a lot of time. But COVID-19 is so new that we're still building our way up from data. If we look at that base of the pyramid We've got to keep working on the data, but it is easier said than done. The data is scarce, we might not know how many people tested positive, but we don't know how many people are positive who've never been tested. Data can be hard to collect, we had some national shortages of tests, you couldn't always get a test if you needed one, so how would we even get a good rate? And, it can take time, you maybe are only getting tested after you have symptoms after 14 days and so on. Well, that data is 14 days late. The take home here is the data is really tricky to collect and can run into some kind of unexpected problems along the way. Let's take a take could peak at one form of data collection that is critical for combating COVID-19, that's contact tracing. Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who have come into contact with. And may have possibly be an infected by someone who has, in this case, COVID-19 contact tracing is important, especially because people who have COVID-19. Well, they might go asymptomatic for quite some time, but they can be transmitting the virus anyway. So by the time you end up having some symptoms 10 ,11 ,12 days later That might have been 10 11 or 12 days that you've been infecting other people. Contact tracing helps identify those people and let them know that they might be at risk. Here's the suggested workflow provided by the CDC for contact tracing around COVID-19. Working across the top row from left to right. After someone tests positive for Cody COVID-19, the CDC recommends that they're interviewed. during that interview, they will identify all the people they possibly could have come into contact with who might be at risk. These are people that they might have spread the virus to. Those contacts of then going to be entered into a database and each contact is then assigned to a contact tracer. These tracers get in touch with every person who has come into contact with this patient. They're told to self quarantine, get a test if they can, and are put in touch with professional resources and services as needed. contacts are asked to stay in quarantine for 14 days from their exposure provided that they don't develop symptoms. This workflow seems pretty straightforward, right? Well, there are some problems. Take another peek. What are the ways in which this might break down? I can think of a few. Maybe you're thinking of them to, you know, people maybe don't know they have the virus because they never develop symptoms so they never get tested. Or, maybe some people don't actually remember everyone they possibly come into contact with. How would you possibly know everyone's name when you were at Trader Joe's the other day. These makes sense, but there are some surprising ones too. How many of you pick up your cell phone, especially when you get a call from an unknown number? I mean, I know I don't. But if you don't pick up that phone, how is the contract tracer going to get a hold of you? These are some of the challenges that happen with this collection of data. In fact, it's a significant enough challenge that when I was talking about this lecture with a colleague of mine at a different university. She mentioned that her University he just sent out this blanket email to everyone telling them to pick up their phone. Even if it's from an unknown number, it might be a contact tracer. Okay, well, so now that we're maybe picking up our phone a little bit more, let's take a step back and think about this data. How is this workflow going to work? How are we going to get all of the data where we need it to be? Well, the answer is that we might not be. But one of the good things about COVID-19 is that we don't have to be 100% perfect when it comes to contact tracing, for that contact tracing does still have a benefit. Whatever we get done, helps reduce the spread of the virus, the more the better. But if we don't hit 100% we don't lose everything. But that does mean that the data we have ends up being a little less reliable. Those bar charts, line graphs, the predictive models, they're all based on the data we have. And it's hard to account for the data we don't have. Now when it comes to working with all this data, I'm an information scientist. I love my data. But when we are trying to make sense of it as people, you know, walking around the street wondering what we're at risk. Well, we have a challenge because we have too much data. No one can handle all the data we're being presented with. It's just too much. And that means actually visualizing the data, representing it graphically becomes really important. We've all become really familiar with these kinds of visualizations, heat maps charts around COVID. You've seen them on Google even when you're just searching for the most recent COVID rates in Colorado. But you've probably also seen it in the Denver Post, or in the New York Times. And here's one that I've been looking at since kind of the beginning of this year. It was produced by the H GIS lab at the University of Washington. And I like it because I can kind of drill into different countries and it lets me plot the data in different ways. So I can Compare countries and see how things are progressing in each one. And of course, I know many of you have actually been looking at, well, this dashboard, at least, I'm recording this in August and if I look on Reddit, it's been front and center in a lot of students minds. data visualizations are a form of what we call. Knowledge compression knowledge compression is when we take concrete information from the real world and compress it into something we can actually read. You can't actually go talk to every single person in Colorado who has been diagnosed or was ill with COVID-19. But we can compress all that information. Maybe plot it in a map, show it in a line chart, produce it in some form that you actually can read and make choices about. As information scientists, we're always trying to blend the right perspectives. We need that view from 30,000 feet. It helps us make decisions at an aggregate and at the level of like a state or a nation. But we also need to make sure that we're not losing sight of what's happening on the ground. Experience that you and I are having everyday. Getting the balance is critical because there are some problems with compression. It's helpful but it can also obscure that lived experience. Knowledge compression can squeeze the human out of those charts the New York times are certainly aware of this, when we as a country hit 100,000 deaths. They tried to counteract this compression, filling the front page of the newspaper with the intimate details of 1000 people who had died from covid-19. When we look behind the data points Well, what we see are a bunch of human stories. We see new stories of people who had to say goodbye to their loved ones when their loved ones were admitted into the hospital. Stories of teachers completing their wills ahead of the start of the school year, and people having to rethink traditional social activities like birthdays, summer vacations. Graduations weddings, but also funerals, while the death count might be going higher and higher each day, it's interesting to see how people are being resilient and they're connecting with each other. Joining funerals by zoo in 2020, more of our lives are mediated through information. Than ever before. By some estimates, the average internet user has 191 accounts. And if you're like them, you're producing over 850 gigs of data per year. All of this requires a new kind of savviness to prepare for a new kind of reality in ways that are kind of mundane but also sometimes monumental. For example, if one of your parents were to get sick and die of COVID would get their photos from their iPhoto account? It's important that we pay attention to how the technology in our lives are transforming the ways we live and now also how we die. So information and technology, like many things they end up becoming a kind of double edged sword. Technology and data well, they connect us. It's really hard to imagine the pandemic without them without our devices without the internet without Zoom. But to go back to the info demmick because so much of our lives are happening online. And because those lives are shared online, we need to be careful about what we share. To survive the pandemic we also need to survive the info demmick. And that requires all of us, and it literally can save lives. So, let me give you six easy things that you can do to help prevent the spread of false information. First, pay attention to the source is it from a trusted media outlet? While I love reading about updates for my aunt's life, I'm not sure if I'm going to trust her latest home remedy. Two look for facts and evidence. When you get some information be critical about it. Is there information to back it up? Is there science to back it up, have other sources reported the same kind of information. You better believe that as effective treatments come out for COVID we're going to hear about it from a lot of different sources. So go ahead and rely on that. Third, be cautious with your clicks. Don't like retweet, repost or share false information that you know is untrue and if you're uncertain well best to play it safe. Fourth, stop that information in its tracks. When you see wrong information will correct it. We should all be correcting wrong information when we see it, but not just by calling people out with a short and easy tweet. We should be providing links to verified information especially from trusted organisations that we can rely on like the CDC or the WHO. Fifth, and this one is for your own practices, reduce the amount of information in your life. Less really can be more. When this pandemic started I was constantly refreshing pages and I was eagerly opening every single news alert that popped up on my phone. Well, this can have negative health consequences. Psychologists have recommended that you take a proactive rather than reactive approach when consuming information around the pandemic. One recommendation is that you choose one or maybe two times a day when you proactively go to the news and read it. And limit your news consumption beyond that. And if you're like me, you should probably also turn off those news notifications on your phone. Trust me, the news it will still be there when you get back to it. Sixth, pay attention to how the information is being compressed. And when you see information, look under the hood where's the data coming from? Those sources need to be backed up to. Let me go ahead and wrap up with one final one. Remember the pyramid? Maybe what you should be doing is focusing less on data and information and more on knowledge and wisdom. What's the difference? Knowledge and wisdom about taking action? If you're getting information that you can't take action on, well, it might not be worth your time. Information is often presented to you to encourage you to be afraid. It drives clicks, it drives eyeballs, but if there's nothing for you to do about it, well then it might not be worth your time. And remember these platforms we're using well, they're all digital economies. And those digital economies are really based around advertising. And that means that easy answers that draw eyeballs and clicks well, they're going to be especially prevalent resist easy answers. So the next time you're feeling stressed out by the news, take a break. Call your mom. She'll love to hear from you play a game with your roommates or you know what, maybe we should start using all this technology to focus on connecting with people that we care about, and to work on issues that are important to us. In fact, that's actually zactly what you're going to hear about from Samir in the next video until we talk again, stay safe. And stay informed, just not too informed.