On February 18, 2015 Cornell University Professor and CeRI researcher Gilly Leshed gave a talk at the third annual Israeli Human-Computer Interaction Research Conference, held at the Microsoft R&D Center in Herzliya, Israel. The talk was titled “Moderating Online Deliberation: Interfaces and Communities” and presented research done by Professor Leshed and her team on moderation in online deliberative environments, focusing on the assistance these environments can provide citizens towards participating meaningfully in policymaking through the facilitation of informed, reasoned, and substantive arguments. Further detailed was the processes undertaken to design better interface tools for online deliberation moderators. She outlined an interview study conducted with moderators working on CeRI’s RegulationRoom platform, the experimental online platform designed to engage people in complex federal policy deliberation. Ultimately, the findings reveal the importance of context in making informed moderation decisions and the challenges in attending to different kinds of commenters. Her ongoing work will involve design changes that combine multiple information sources in one interface and extend the model of moderation from soliciting effective comments toward facilitating online community building.
In Ottawa on September 8, 2014, Cynthia R. Farina spoke to Canadian rule makers and legislative drafters at the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice's (CIAJ) national conference, Nudging Regulations: Designing and Drafting Regulatory Instruments for the 21st Century. The presentation, "Leveling the Playing Field: Using the Internet to Get Broader, Better Public Participation in Rulemaking," discussed the challenges and opportunities of effectively engaging individuals and groups historically absent from the public comment process. Using CeRI's RegulationRoom platform, Farina illustrated how purposeful technology design can address some of these challenges. She went on to argue, however, that some of the most difficult barriers to broader participation cannot be solved by technology alone. In particular, the persistent problem of long, complex and difficult-to-read rulemaking documents impedes informed participation by individuals and groups without the resources to obtain expert help. At least at present, this obstacle can be addressed only by mindfulness in the drafting process. Additional information can be found on the CIAJ website.
CeRI e-Government Fellow Cheryl Blake and PhD students Brian McInnis, Elizabeth Murnane, and Jon Park hosted a workshop as part of the Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) 2014 Conference on April 12th. Designed to engage young girls in math, science, and engineering, EYH invites 7-9th grade girls to Cornell's campus for a full day of talks, demos, and hands-on workshops meant to spark interest in these disciplines. CeRI's "DIY: Designing Social Networks" workshop presented key social and technical issues related to the design of online communities. Workshop attendees explored the science behind how online communities are created and maintained, what attracts new members, and what makes people motivated to work with each other. The workshop was a highly interactive experience during which attendees "launched" an online community related to a personal interest or hobby, crafted badges and other interface components to engage community members, and wrote code to build a simple, customized web page. You can find more information on the EYH program here.
On April 4, a group of congressional and White House staffers, agency officials, and advocacy groups met in the Russell Senate Office Building to discuss the policy proposals in a law review article written by Cynthia R. Farina, Mary J. Newhart and Josiah Heidt, "Rulemaking vs. Democracy: Judging and Nudging Public Participation that Counts." Based on findings from CeRI's RegulationRoom project, the article was one of three, selected out of 900 contending articles, to be featured in the Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review. The annual event on Capitol Hill brings "innovative environmental law and policy proposals in the academic literature" to the attention of leading policymakers and practitioners. Prof. Farina discussed CeRI's work and responded to comments on the article from the General Counsel of EPA, the Program Manager of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the VP of Regulatory and Technical Affairs of the American Chemistry Council. Additional conference information, and a link to the paper, can be found here.
CeRI's faculty director, Cynthia Farina, in conjunction with McGill University Associate Professor Hoi Kong, presented at the symposium, "Smart Law for Smart Cities: Regulation, Technology, and the Future of Cities," held at Fordham Law School, February 27-28, 2014. Their presentation focused on residential engagement and the ways in which technology has reshape the interface between residents and cities. Additional information on this symposium can be found here.
On January 5, 2014 CeRI Postdoctoral Fellow Dmitry Epstein presented the program's ongoing work to the faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management at Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. This presentation included a general overview of the promises and challenges of utilizing Web 2.0 technologies to encourage public participation in complex policymaking. The talk explored the current relevant research of the CeRI program. First, it unpacked the processes of online community building underway on RegulationRoom.org. Second, it discussed the Natural Language Processing research (including a project funded through a grant from Cornell Tech) and its implementation to help align broad and diverse community participation with the needs and expectations of governmental bodies. A brief abstract of the talk can be found here.
On December 29, 2013, as part of a seminar on Communication Technologies in the Daily Life, CeRI Postdoctoral Fellow Dmitry Epstein gave an open guest lecture to the students and faculty in the departments of Communication and Information & Knowledge Management at Haifa University. The talk gave a general overview of the CeRI program's research into online civic engagement and presented more specific information on ongoing and future research made possible by a recently awarded grant from the National Science Foundation's Human-Centered Computing Program.
The September 21st panel, "Is the UN Really Out to Take Over the Internet?", is part of the Research Conference on Communication, Information, and Internet Policy.
Cynthia Farina participated alongside CFPB's Whitney Patross in a panel titled Charting a Path Forward for the Use of Social Media in Rulemaking at a social media workshop, co-sponsored by the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) and the GW Regulatory Studies Center, held in Washington, DC on September 17, 2013. The panel, and workshop, brought together experts in the field to focus on how agencies can use social media in new and innovative ways to improve rulemaking. More information on this workshop can be found here.
CeRI postdoctoral fellow Dmitry Epstein presented the paper "Balancing Inclusion and 'Enlightened Understanding' in Designing Online Civic Participation Systems: Experiences from Regulation Room," at the 14th Annual Conference on Digital Government Research, held at Laval University in Quebec City on June 17-20, 2013. The conference focus on the theme, From e-Government to Smart Government.
Mary Newhart(Moderator) and Cynthia Farina join a panel of other experts to detail the successful application of technology within the rulemaking process at the ABA's 9th Annual Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Institute. held in Washington, DC on April 3-4, 2013.
CeRI postdoctoral scholar Dmitry Epstein, and 2012-13 e-Government Fellow Jackeline Solivan, delivered the presentation "Under the Hood of Online Civic Participation: Lessons from the Regulation Room" at the 2012 Law Via the Internet Conference held at Cornell Law School, October 7-9, 2012. Additional information on the conference can be found here.
Cynthia Farina, one of 100 invited researchers from a dozen countries, participated in the prestigious Google Faculty Summit in Mountain View, California on July 25-27, 2012. This summit brought together faculty from 65 Universities to focus on new interactions in an increasingly digital world. Further information on the summit can be found here.
"Youth in an Online World: Views and Perspectives of Youth as Users" brought together youth to discuss social networking, privacy & security, online literacy, and more. The workshop was held at the Georgetown University Law Center on July 26, 2012.
CeRI's Dmitry Epstein presented the paper, " The Value of Words: Narrative as Evidence in Policymaking", at the 7th International Conference in Interpretive Policy Analysis, held at Tillburg University on July 5-7, 2012.
Josiah Heidt presented a paper titled " Regulation Room: Field Testing an Online Public Participation Platform During USA Agency Rulemakings" at the 12th Annual European Conference on eGovernment, held on June 14-15, 2012.
Cynthia Farina and Theresa Pardo, the director of the Center for Technology in Government at the State University of New York at Albany, convened a meeting of White House officials, funding agencies, and agency counsel to discuss obstacles to government/academic research partnerships in e-Government. This was held in Washington, DC, June 13, 2012.
CeRI was invited by the White House to participate, as one of six "civil society" groups, in creating an action plan for improving the official federal e-Rulemaking site, Regulations.gov.
Cornell Computer Science PhD student Jon Park and CeRI Executive Director Mary Newhart presented "Facilitative Moderation for Online Participation in eRulemaking" at the 13th Annual Conference on Digital Government Research, held at the University of Maryland on June 4-7, 2012.
Josiah Heidt and Jackeline Solivan presented a poster, "Regulation Room: Moving Towards Civic Participation 2.0", that was chosen "Best Project" at the 13th Annual Conference on Digital Government Research, held at the University of Maryland on June 4-7, 2012. Mary Newhart and CS PhD candidate Joonsuk Park presented a paper, " Facilitative Moderation for Online Participation in eRulemaking", at dg.o 2012 also.
Post-doc Dmitry Epstein presented at the 2012
International Communication Association conference in Phoenix, AZ, from May 24-28. The CeRI paper was titled "
Not by Technology Alone: The 'Analog' Aspects of Online Public Engagement in Rulemaking".
Dmitry Epstein of CeRI and Jeff Hancock of Information Science at Cornell were the keynote speakers at the first annual New Media Gathering Africa, held in March 2012. Dmitry spoke about the impact of emerging media on democratic institutions and political deliberative processes.
CeRI co-sponsored a workshop with the Israeli chapter of the Internet Society on January 8, 2012. This was held in Tel-Aviv, Israel and focused on using the Internet for improving public engagement in policymaking.
CeRI postdoctoral candidate Dmitry Epstein gave a talk in the Information and Knowledge Management Department of Haifa University Graduate School of Business on December 26, 2011.
CeRI postdoctoral candidate Dmitry Epstein chaired a session on Globalization, Nationality, and New Media at the annual graduate students' conference in Haifa University, December 25, 2011.
CeRI postdoctoral candidate Dmitry Epstein gave a talk to the faculty of the School of Communication at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel on December 20, 2011.
CeRI egovernment fellow Josiah Heidt participated in a panel at the Administrative Law Conference, "Developments in e-Rulemaking," Washington, DC on November 17, 2011.
On September 30, 2011, CeRI Executive Director Mary Newhart spoke at the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association of Law Libraries of Upstate New York (ALLUNY) in Binghamton, NY. Prof. Newhart gave a quick tour of the Regulation Room website and talked about the current rulemaking on Air Travel Accessibility, including efforts to certify the site as WCAG 2.0AA compliant. She also discussed the research project from the perspectives of law/government; computing and information science; conflict resolution; and civic democracy.
In September 2011, CeRI researchers Rebecca Vernon and Dima Epstein presented a new paper, Broadening the Spectrum for Participations: Lessons from Experiments of Online Public Engagement in Rulemaking , at the by-invitation experts' workshop New ICTs + New Media = New Democracy? Communications policy and public life in the age of broadband. Held at the New America Foundation in Washington, DC. and co-sponsored by the Penn State Institute for Information Policy and the New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative, the three-day event featured experts from universities across the United States and around the world, as well as government and industry leaders.
The paper describes how Regulation Room is purposefully designed to address various digital divides. Drawing on the work of Jan van Dijk, Paul DiMaggio, and Pippa Norris, it discusses the ways in which Regulation Room's information architecture and moderation protocols attempt to bridge divides of access, technical ability, and participatory skills to enable a broader array of the public to engage more meaningfully in important government policymaking. The paper generated much excited discussion at the workshop about potential future applications of the Regulation Room website and CeRI's research. Rebecca Vernon is an Affiliated Researcher and was the first CeRI Open Government Fellow. Dima Epstein just completed his PhD in Communications and is the first CeRI post-doc.