The socio-information ecologies of deeply personal situations


“Can I get my gun back?”
“If you go to a shelter, they make you get a divorce.”
“I left with my clothes and my laptop.”
“Is it ok to have the cervical cancer vaccination while I’m on my period?”

People ask for facts and advice. Their resources are formal and informal. Online and in-person. Intimate and impersonal.  Data and explanation. Communal and isolated. Information is sought, ignored, encountered, and rejected.  In high-risk situations, individuals’ information experiences take on special significance. Each moment contains a vibrant possibility. The experiences move through deeply internalized and externally mandated timelines – a nexus for mutually constructed, and deconstructed, ecologies. My research is immersed on this rich environment.

Questions shift with every step in this work but – for now – these stand out for me.

◦ What types of activities do personal crisis survivors find cognitively, affectively, and behaviorally possible at what stages of engagement with information systems?

◦ How do those correlate with stages of movement towards safer living?

◦ How could digital communities interlace formal and informal support services on a community, state, and even national level?

◦ How can people in crisis situations safely contribute to the content, participate in the sub-communities, manage the information required in their various problem solving efforts, and connect to ever-changing local resource offerings?

◦ What are the mental models that people in crisis hold? What, for example, do IPV survivors expect of police, of shelter staff, of each other, of medical staff, of librarians, of the Internet?