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POSTPONED - Increasing Participation in Democracy with Social Computing: Q & A with Narges Mahyar

12 Nov
Thursday, 11/12/2020 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Virtual via Zoom
Speaker: Narges Mahyar

This event has been postponed until Spring 2021. A new date will be announced shortly. 

While the nation grapples with a contentious election, partisan governance, and social division and inequality, pundits warn that participative democracy is under threat.

Can social computing tools facilitate a more inclusive, robust democracy that engages diverse perspectives in policy-making?

Local governments depend on traditional town halls for community consultation, despite problems such as a lack of inclusive participation for attendees, and difficulty in capturing attendee feedback in reports.

In an award-winning paper, Narges Mahyar and collaborators describe a field-tested community-sourcing system called CommunityClick, which improves inclusivity by providing multiple avenues for attendees to share opinions. The resulting meeting transcript is augmented with attendee feedback and organizers' tags, along with a feedback-weighted summary of the transcript generated from text analysis methods. This is incorporated into an interactive authoring tool for organizers to write comprehensive and accurate reports to inform critical civic decision-making.

About the Speaker: 
Narges Mahyar is an assistant professor in the College of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She co-directs the HCI-VIS lab, which focuses on developing novel social computing and visualization tools to facilitate data analysis, communication, and exploration for real-world socio-technical problems in domains such as civics and healthcare. She holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Victoria, an MS in Information Technology from the University of Malaya, and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Tehran Azad University.

About the Series: 
The Computing and Social Justice Lecture Series brings UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences researchers and the public together to critically assess how computing innovation intersects with vitally important issues like structural bias, civic participation, economic inequality, and citizen privacy.