How can this be utilized?
This blueprint can be used to consider the usefulness of current strategies in place for combating misinformation and potentially increase the discussion and implementation for more effective strategies. This research aimed to examine the phenomenon of misinformation at a high-level. To achieve a structured view, an interdisciplinary framework for the context of this research needed to be built.
The purpose of the developed framework is to aid in future strategy and interventions of misinformation. Two frameworks were established, an ecosystem of definitions and misinformation drivers placed within information disorders. The second framework was addressing the requirements (or tiers) of communication media so a system map could be established. Using Buchanan’s wicked-problems approach to design thinking, the drivers of misinformation were positioned in the system map of communication. Together the two frameworks act as a ‘blueprint’, which can be used to survey and analyze the phenomenon of misinformation.
The system map is used to draw attention to two things:
1. Potential entry points
Where the drivers of misinformation have the potential to materialize.
2. The valves of control
Channels of communication which are subject to different decision-makers.
Potential Entry Points
Based on findings, misperceptions have a higher potential to occur in the earlier stages of dissemination. Misperceptions, a sub-category of misinformation dealing with false belief, has a high potential to appear under the witness valve when the human processing of stimuli occurs. Misperceptions also appeared under many valves that rely heavily on interviewing witnesses. As mentioned within the listed drivers, memories can fade or alter over time. On the other hand, misinformation tends to materialize later in the dissemination process after it’s passed through a few valves of control. To name a few, Content limitations and incorrect visualized data both occur after information/content has made its way through two or three valves of control.
The Valves of Control
Throughout the research, there are many different decision-makers throughout the process of dissemination. Each decision-maker has the power to control and/or influence the information/content as it passes through its valve of control. Some information/content even passes through multiple valves, tweaking and distorting the meaning before it reaches us. All that considered, these valves not only influence and control, but its existence is the creation of a new way to receive information/content. The valves are paradoxical in nature, bringing new forms of self-expression and storytelling while holding the ability to restrict and control.
Time constraints were a big limitation of this project. The scope was aggressive and not every avenue could be explored at this time. Based on this limitation, not every driver of misinformation and misperceptions could be addressed. These will be listed below in future research.
Time also cut short the exercise of the system map. I hoped to simulate a few case studies using the visuals of the system map. This will also have to be paced under future research.
As mentioned above, not every possible driver of misinformation could be researched and presented as a driver. The following is a list of other potential categories of misinformation/misperceptions for future research; motivated reasoning, influencers, perceptions driven by personal bias, meme theory, political spin and cognitive dissonance. Each of these potential drivers, once proven, could be added to the system map.
This research aims to allow us, as a society, a clearer direction for combatting a phenomenon of this size. It would be beneficial to the research to select case studies and run it through the system map. This exploration will not only ground the system map in reality, but it can also highlight any potential areas that are currently not represented on the map. Since mapping a moving target can never be a perfect process, adding a ‘case study’ check-in would help bring new and evolving elements to the map.