RESEARCH

SFU’s Digital Democracies Institute works to advance new technology and cultural democracy

October 26, 2020
Print

The evolution of technology has altered how information is processed, with globalization enabling education and technological advancement – but also falling prey to issues of privacy violation and disinformation.

SFU’s new Digital Democracies Institute (DDI), formerly the Digital Democracies Group, aims to tackle those issues. Led by Wendy Chun, SFU’s Canada 150 Research Chair in New Media, the institute’s goal is to create global partnerships and integrated research in humanities, social sciences, network and data sciences to address questions of equality, justice, and democratic dialogue. 

“We want to rethink the relationship between technology and democracy and work towards how technology can be part of a holistic solution to combat polarization,” says Chun. “Our long-term goal is to combat the proliferation of online polarization, abusive language, and discriminatory algorithms by producing alternative data literacies and paradigms for connection.”

The institute aims to support SFU as a global leader in the field of humanities and data sciences, create new opportunities for faculties, build connections with not-for-profit organizations and expand global collaborations.

“It will also become a hub for data collaboration on social media research,” says Svitlana Matviyenko, the institute’s associate director and assistant professor in SFU’s School of Communication. “The institute will host and maintain an advanced research computing infrastructure that can accommodate the shared needs of our affiliates and collaborators, and provide a stable and reliable environment for digital social sciences research.” she says.

The institute has launched the following research streams, with more to follow:

1)    Beyond Verification: Authenticity and the Spread of Mis/disinformation

2)    From Hate to Agonism: Fostering Democratic Exchange Online

3)    Desegregating Network Neighborhoods 

4)    Discriminating Data

For more information about the Digital Democracies Institute at SFU, go to https://digitaldemocracies.org