Many Worlds on a Frame: Characterizing Online Social Cognition

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    Many Worlds on a Frame: Characterizing Online Social Cognition

    Abstract : The theme of the Web Observatory at IIIT Bangalore is "online social cognition." Our research aims to understand how social media activity molds collective worldview that in turn impacts several areas of human activity, like business, politics or even social harmony. We first categorize the web into three broad regions or realms: called the social, trigger, and inert realms respectively. The social realm forms the participatory areas of the web, where opinions are actively exchanged and molded. Trigger realm refers to elements like news websites or blogs, whose publishing events often trigger activity in the social realm. The inert realm refers to static web content, that gets used as a source of latent knowledge in the social interactions. The social realm itself is modeled as a "marketplace of opinions" -- where different vested interests invest their opinions in order to fetch returns. Opinions that are "compatible" come together to form one or more narratives. In order to characterize this, we first represent an opinion as comprising of two dimensions called: abstraction and expression. Abstraction refers to the opinion-holder's objective perspective on the issue, and expression refers to the communication of the opinion-holder's subjective sentiment about the issue. Cognitive science studies show that abstractions and expressions have vastly different characteristics in they way they diffuse through a population. Hence, the formation of narratives are sometimes catalyzed by abstractions, and sometimes by expressions. In order to represent narratives and their interplay, that constitutes social cognition, we also propose a hermeneutic framework called "Many Worlds on a Frame" (MWF). The framework models the semantic universe of discourse, as comprising of several semantic "worlds" or "narratives" within each of which , other worlds may participate as entities. Interactions between worlds are either facilitated or hampered by their respective worldviews. The set of all interactions between worlds is called the Frame. We argue that the "many worlds" representation is more conducive to modeling social cognition, rather than (say) a convergent multi-author knowledge model like a wiki. The MWF implementation does not impose an overarching ontology, at the same time, it is not completely unstructured either. We propose to use a modified form of the NQuad W3C standard for representing knowledge about online social cognition. About the Speaker : Srinath Srinivasa heads the Web Science lab and is the Dean (R&D) at IIIT Bangalore, India. Srinath holds a Ph.D (magna cum laude) from the Berlin Brandenburg Graduate School for Distributed Information Systems (GkVI) Germany, an M.S. (by Research) from IIT-Madras and B.E. in Computer Science and Engineering from The National Institute of Engineering (NIE) Mysore. He works in the area of Web Science, understanding the impact of the web on humanity. Technology for educational outreach and social empowerment has been a primary motivation driving his research. He has participated in several initiatives for technology enhanced education including the VTU Edusat program, The National Programme for Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) and an educational outreach program in collaboration with Upgrad. He is a member of various technical and organizational committees for international conferences like International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM), ACM Hypertext, COMAD/CoDS, ODBASE, etc. He is also a life member of the Computer Society of India (CSI). As part of academic community outreach, Srinath has served on the Board of Studies of Goa University and as a member of the Academic Council of the National Institute of Engineering, Mysore. He has served as a technical reviewer for various journals like the VLDB journal, IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering, and IEEE Transactions on Cloud Computing. He is also the recipient of various national and international grants for his research activities.

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