April 5, 2020

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How digital humanities can help in a pandemic

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With the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, there is a race versus the clock to carry out science-primarily based actions to protect society’s most susceptible populations. Community engagement with data has by no means been far more urgent, and as EPFL professor Robert West describes, digital humanities investigate has a vital position to perform.


In an age of virality, it seems that the only matter that travels speedier amid individuals than a novel coronavirus is info. Now, with the exponential unfold of COVID-19 conditions in new months, tales and data about the virus are everywhere—on social media, in the media, and filling up pre-print databases.

Reactions to information of outbreaks and linked containment actions in Switzerland have ranged from panic and worry-purchasing, to concern above the economic impacts of this kind of actions. In the meantime, some others feel to be pondering: “What is actually the huge offer? It truly is just the flu!”

With the digital data deluge evolving every single day—and even by the hour—it’s no question community perceptions of the pandemic vary so drastically. In fact, Robert West, who sales opportunities the Details Science Lab (DLAB) in the College of Laptop and Conversation Sciences, thinks that it is heading to consider far more than statements from scientists to converse the points of the COVID-19 problem, and to inspire curve-flattening behaviors like repeated hand-washing and social distancing.

“There is a extremely human element to points it is not just about the points by themselves, but about how people comprehend them,” says West, who is also a member of the UNIL-EPFL Heart for Electronic Humanities (dhCenter).

“When you go from scientific papers to social media, audiences don’t have the similar history, and we want to comprehend how they browse these types of info. Which is something quite a few scientists don’t care considerably about, and it is in which digital humanities investigate can actually perform a position.”

Picking a messenger

West describes an ongoing investigate task, funded as a result of the Collaborative Research on Science and Society (CROSS) software, which underscores the relevance of knowledge how people comprehend data, specially when it comes to controversial or hazard-laden concerns. He and his colleagues established out to comprehend how people’s views on 4 hot-button topics—climate alter, abortion, vaccination and immigration—were swayed primarily based on the statements of movie star spokespeople.

The researchers randomly blended and matched genuine statements with genuine celebrities, to take a look at their hypothesis that statements attributed to identified and respected spokespeople had far more influence than these from unknown or disliked sources. Research subjects also browse statements attributed to an “skilled,” who unbeknownst to them was made up by the researchers.

“We anticipated experts to have a even bigger influence on shifting views than disliked celebrities, but our preliminary success basically exhibit that experts have the minimum affect, and that their statements can even backfire. I feel this is one particular illustration of how digital humanities can support in this disaster, since it can support condition the methods we use to teach the community.”

Three strategies from a data scientist

EPFL professor Robert West offers some tips for how to navigate COVID-19 data with no falling victim to untrue info, no matter whether from pretend information or straightforward misinterpretation.

  • Check the sources of data interpretations… and of the data alone. “I feel it is clear tips, but even I have to remind myself of it, since as individuals we have an innate hunger for sensational information,” West says. In addition to looking for reputable sources (universities and respected information outlets leading social media, for illustration), he advises often looking through graph and infographic captions diligently. Given that various nations have various methods to gathering epidemiological data and tests for COVID-19, their figures usually are not often similar.
  • Study the axis labels. Check to see if graphs are linear or logarithmic, as this would make a huge big difference when it comes to knowledge exponential advancement.
  • Hold viewpoint. Bear in thoughts that data on the COVID-19 pandemic is regularly shifting. “What we’re looking at on line demonstrates gatherings that are unfolding in genuine time, and what we browse today could be various tomorrow,” West says.

The digital divide leaves millions at a downside during the coronavirus pandemic


Presented by
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

Quotation:
How digital humanities can support in a pandemic (2020, March 23)
retrieved 23 March 2020
from https://phys.org/information/2020-03-digital-humanities-pandemic.html

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