On Local Information Landscapes and Information Deserts

Information accessibility problems include diverse types of human- and system-driven barriers that make it difficult for individuals to access desired information. These issues have been studied in two main streams: (1) a human-centered view based on the understand­ing of individual-level characteristics such as physical impairment and economic status; and (2) a technology-focused view that emphasizes on system factors such as the information filtering techniques and interface designs. Beyond human and system factors, however, pre-existing information sources and their complex structures can also affect people’s access to desired information. This work tries to propose a concept of local information landscapes (LIL) to provide an ontological understanding of how holistic information look, and to conceptualize information inequality in a local community as information deserts based on the LIL framework.

Dr. Brian Butler (UMD iSchool), Dr. Rosta Farzan (U of Pitt, iSchool), Claudia Lopez (U of Pitt, iSchool), and I have been working on characterizing and conceptualizing the local information landscapes. An example showcase of this phenomenon is available at the external link.

We held a workshop on this topic at CSST 2015, CO, U.S.A.