We decode the social effects of media to put their power to good use.

Current Projects

Building basic knowledge and putting it to work for our partners and the public  

Project Ratio

 

Evolving our news information ecosystems

Studies suggest that our news information ecosystem is contaminated by fake or misleading news, that consumers are being algorithmically sorted, or are self-selecting, into partisan echo chambers, and that a large percentage of citizens are insufficiently engaged to have any views at all. These studies have generally relied on small, one-off data collection efforts that fail to cohere into a complete picture. A major obstacle to improving the information ecosystem that underpins democracy is the absence of a comprehensive, longitudinal picture of news, as it moves through the "information funnel,” from production, through distribution and discovery, consumption, and absorption. Project Ratio seeks to provide a first-of-its-kind, at-scale, real-time, cross-platform mapping of news information.

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Vizlab

Surfacing the visual malware text-based tracking misses

 

Memes are increasingly used as vehicles for disinformation and a core strategy in coordinated propaganda and harassment campaigns. As visual tropes that are reproduced, adapted and rapidly spread through social networks, transmitting in-group jokes and veiled meanings, memes can confound journalists, researchers and a public seeking to understand where they came from, what they mean, and the cultural influence they exert. While many researchers and websites, like knowyourmeme, are dedicated to understanding this aspect of visual culture and its practice within various online communities, new contextual search and discovery tools are required to make this work easier, faster, and more responsive.

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Meme Factory

Experiments in audience-centered advocacy media development

 

Many advocacy media making methods derive from an earlier age of broadcast media. By testing ideas through phone polls and focus groups, they miss out on the honesty of observed behavior, the power of iterating in real-time against audience insights, and the unparalleled speed, cost, and scale of digital. What’s more, while most traditional research approaches are good at finding broad-based, tepid support, they don’t have a mechanism to discover the energizing, mobilizing storylines that drive real change. A new method for advocacy media development is needed, not only to make better, more authentic content, but to break free of the message-poll-based micro-targeting techniques that can exacerbate partisan polarization.

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