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Motivating and Engaging Users with Government Data

Joan Morris DiMicco
Research Scientist, Visual Communication Lab in IBM’s Center for Social Software


Gates and Hillman Centers 4405

Video link


Government transparency is a hot issue in today’s political environment. The recent controversy in the US over health care reform is just one example of how hard it can be to see the realities behind the rhetoric. As researchers, we believe we can help by giving people the right tools to understand, explore, and communicate about government data. This talk will introduce Many Bills, a web-based visualization that enables members of the public to see the high-level topic structure of US Congressional Bills through visualization, supporting drilling down to the topics of interest.

Many Bills site:

Speaker's Bio

Joan DiMicco is a Research Scientist leading the Visual Communication Lab, part of IBM’s Center for Social Software in Cambridge, MA. DiMicco’s expertise is in understanding the impact of technology on human behavior, taking a hybrid approach of designing and engineering systems followed by analysis of the altered social dynamics. In leading the Visual Communication Lab, she views visualization as a method for communicating complex data to non-experts. Joining IBM in 2006, she first focused on the use of social networking tools in the workplace and how they change the nature of employee communication. Prior to IBM, she worked at Sun Microsystems, First Virtual Holdings and Open Sesame. Her work has resulted in over 25 peer-reviewed academic publications, as well as popular press discussing her research, in the New York Times, Washington Post, and BusinessWeek. Joan holds a BS in Applied Math from Brown University and an MS and a PhD from the MIT Media Lab.

Speaker's Website