Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Informatics Seminar: Systems to Improve Online Discussion

13 Feb
Wednesday, 02/13/2019 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Computer Science Building, Room 150/151
Speaker: Amy Zhang

Abstract: Discussions online are integral to everyday life, affecting how we learn, work, socialize, and participate in public society. Yet the systems that we use to conduct online discourse, whether they be email, chat, or forums, have changed little since their inception many decades ago. As more people participate and more venues for discourse migrate online, new problems have arisen, and old problems have intensified. People are still drowning in information and must now juggle dozens of disparate discussion silos in addition. Finally, an unfortunately significant proportion of this online interaction is unwanted or unpleasant, with clashing norms leading to people bickering or getting harassed into silence. My research in human-computer interaction is on reimagining outdated designs towards designing novel online discussion systems that fix what's broken about online discussion. To solve these problems, I develop tools that empower users and communities to have direct control over their experiences and information. These include: 1) summarization tools to make sense of large discussions, 2) annotation tools to situate conversations in the context of what is being discussed, as well as 3) moderation tools to give users more fine-grained control over content delivery. 

Bio: Amy X. Zhang is a fifth-year PhD student at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), focusing on human-computer interaction and social computing. She is also a 2018-19 Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard. She has interned at Microsoft Research and Google Research and was a software engineer at a news startup before her PhD. Her work has received awards at CHI and CSCW and has been featured by ABC News, BBC, CBC, The Verge, and New Scientist. She has an M.Phil. in advanced computer science at the University of Cambridge on a Gates Fellowship and a B.S. in computer science at Rutgers, where she was captain of the Division I Women's tennis team. Her research is supported by a Google PhD Fellowship and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

A reception for attendees will be held at 3:30 p.m. in CS 150.

Faculty Host