Abstract - The Information Society 27(1)

Supporting “Everyday Analysts” in Safety- and Time-Critical Situations

Leysia Palen, Sarah Vieweg, and Kenneth Mark Anderson

The need for quick, timely, and accurate information is critical in emergency events. During mass emergencies people assemble information from both official and unofficial sources. As digital access expands, people will increasingly incorporate information from digital sources into decision-making and assess it against the local circumstances they experience. If we extrapolate what such behavior means for the future, we can see that information management under emergency conditions will need to become increasingly socially distributed. The key question then is how to assess the quality of information: how “good” or “bad” it is; whether it is “misinformation” or “disinformation.” Borrowing from Simon’s notion of satisficing, we argue that people’s assessment of information helpfulness and credibility is a function of the “everyday analytic” skills they employ during mass emergencies. To facilitate the critical work of “everyday analysts,” we outline a research agenda for the development of analytical support tools.

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