Pnina Fichman, a professor of information science and director of the Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics at the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, is part of a group that has been honored by the Association for Informatics Science and Technology Special Interest Group for Social Informatics (ASIS&T SIG SI) with their 2019 Social Informatics Best Paper award.
Fichman, SICE Ph.D. student Shengnan Yang, and Madeylyn Sanfilippo, a former doctoral student of Fichman’s who is currently at Princeton, earned the award for their paper “Multidimensionality of online trolling behaviors.” The study, which was published in the international journal The Information Society, mapped the perceptions among college students of online trolling behaviors and compared them to how they were interpreted in media coverage and scholarly studies. It identified four behavioral types and seven behavioral dimensions that played a role in how trolling was perceived.
“Earning the best paper in social informatics award is very meaningful for me, for my colleagues, and for my students at IU,” Fichman said. “It recognizes our leadership in social informatics. As the director of the Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, this is also meaningful from an institutional point of view. Starting with the leadership and contribution of Rob Kling, scholars at IU provide leadership in social informatics research and teaching. We are publishing frequently and supporting doctoral students, who are at the forefront of Social Informatics future.”
The paper was one of eight nominated for the award, and the winner was selected by a jury based on its relevance to social informatics, the clarity of its methods, findings, and implications, it significance and contribution to social informatics research, and its overall strength. The paper will be recognized during the 2019 ASIS&T SIG SI Symposium, which will be held Oct. 19 in Melbourne, Australia, during the ASIS&T 2019 Annual Meeting.
“This work is part of my ongoing research on online trolling using social informatics lenses,” Fichman said. “The concept of online trolling evolved over the years, and this paper tries to provide clarity on the concept.”
Fichman, Yang, and Sanfilippo will present their paper as part of the symposium.
“The award is particularly meaningful to me given that it recognizes what I've always appreciated most about social informatics: its responsiveness and applicability to emergent, and, in many cases, politically important, sociotechnical challenges,” Sanfilippo said. “Trolling is a visible challenge online within many communities and across platforms, yet it receives much more media attention than critical scholarly attention even in the wake of the impact of trolls on the 2016 US Presidential election. This paper represented an effort to both elucidate the concept and emphasize the value of social informatics in understanding the nuances of complex online behaviors.”
Yang stresses the importance of studying online behaviors.
“The pervasive information and communication technology use profoundly changes existing social norms and causes a complex online environment,” Yang said. “Trolling is one example that represents the complexity and variability of the current digital environment. Social informatics provides us with a theoretical toolkit to examine how ICTs are intertwined with other forces to fertilize this online culture and forge its process of institutionalization.”