Please join us for the Information Science Colloquium with guest, Megan Finn, a Post Doctoral Researcher, at Microsoft Research New England. Megan received her Ph.D. from University of California at Berkeley from the School of Information in 2012. As a Ph.D. student, Megan received an NSF award for her dissertation research on "Post-Disaster Information Environments." Her work contributes to three key areas of research: public information infrastructures, crisis informatics, and the history of information. Megan's ongoing research examines the social and cultural dimensions of the production of information, analytical limitations of social media datasets about disasters, invisible Internet infrastructure labor. Her book, Documenting Aftermath, is under contract with MIT Press. Megan also has a BS in Computer Science from University of Michigan and a Masters in Information Management and Systems from U.C. Berkeley.  

Title: Restoring Public Information Infrastructure and Post-Disaster Information Practices

Abstract: How do socio-technical infrastructures influence what people do with information? Disasters are intriguing sites for examining information infrastructures as they are broken, tested and reconstituted to  “normal.” My research tackles this question by examining information practices after California earthquakes 1868,1906, and 1989, and our present-day information infrastructure. This talk focuses on how San Franciscans were accounted for after the 1906 earthquake and fire, when half the population of the city was forced to relocate. While people attempted to reconstitute their altered social geographies with the help of innovative information management organizations, powerful pre-earthquake institutions, ideologies and practices dominated the post-disaster public information infrastructure that emerged. This raises questions germane to current issues around information quality and authority, and the dialectical relationship between official “public information” and non-official accounts of disasters. Examining different historical contexts enables theorizing about the relationship between different technological infrastructures and information practices and gives us the opportunity to see present technologies and policies in a new light.

A reception will be held immediately after.