Ben Shneiderman, University of Maryland

Ben Shneiderman, University of Maryland

Technology-mediated social participation is generated when social networking tools (such as Facebook), blogs and microblogs (Twitter), user-generated content sites (YouTube), discussion groups, problem reporting, recommendation systems, and other social media are applied to national priorities such as health, energy, education, disaster response, environmental protection, business innovation, cultural heritage, or community safety.

Fire, earthquake, storm, fraud, or crime reporting sites provide information to civic authorities, AmberAlert has more than 7 million users who help with information on child abductions, Peer-to-Patent provides valuable information for patent examiners, and the SERVE.GOV enables citizens to volunteer for national parks, museums and other institutions. These early attempts hint at the vast potential for technology-mediated social participation, but substantial research is needed to scale up, raise motivation, control malicious attacks, limit misguided rumors, and protect privacy (

Potential short-term interventions include:

  • universities changing course content, adding courses, and offering new degree programs
  • industry helping researchers by providing access to data and platforms for testing
  • government agencies applying these strategies in pilot studies related to national priorities

Ben Shneiderman is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science, Founding Director (1983-2000) of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, and Member of the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies at the University of Maryland at College Park ( He is the author of Leonardo's Laptop: Human Needs and the New Computing Technologies (MIT Press, 2002) and Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction: Fifth Edition (Addison-Wesley, 2009).

Sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, the Department of Language, Literature, and Communication, the Department of Computer Science, and the Program in Information Technology.

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