Collaborative construction of knowledge in Online Conversations: the generation of pseudo-knowledge and the diffusion of false beliefs
Luca Iandoli - Dept. of Engineering Management, University of Naples Federico II, Naples (Italy)
ABSTRACT: In 2013, the World Economic Forum declared massive digital misinformation to be one of the main risks for modern society and positioned it at the center of numerous geopolitical risks including terrorism, cyber attacks, and the failure of global governance. The report assigns blame to our modern “hyper-connectedness” and the ease with which information may be spread. An erroneous or deliberately misleading idea—for instance, the false connection between the MMR vaccine and autism—can quickly spread across the population long before a correction can be made. The rapid spread of online misinformation is only part of the problem, though. Once misinformation has spread, it persists, despite efforts to combat it. In fact, corrective action can cause misinformation to become more firmly entrenched. People often seem motivated to embrace misinformation, to pass it along, and to fight for its survival. Together, they engage in what has been called collective motivated cognition, whereby individuals work together to filter information in order to confirm and preserve a faulty theory because of motivations—a sense of powerlessness, loss of control, or a hidden agenda—that are external to the theory itself. In this seminar, I focus on the object of such motivated cognition, which I refer to with the umbrella term “pseudo-knowledge” (PK). Researchers have suggested that the Internet accelerates the growth of PK in several ways. First, by democratizing information production, the Internet makes it possible for anyone to spread misinformation to large audiences. Second, once disseminated, insular communities of shared interests can weave misinformation in tapestries of PK. Fernback suggests that large-scale, online communication affords the emergence of primarily oral cultures. In such environments, misinformation not merely passed on but also become part of an actively maintained online culture.
BIO: Luca Iandoli is an Associate Professor of Business Economics and Organization at the Dept. of Industrial Engineering, University of Naples Federico II, a Visiting Research Professor at the School of Systems and Enterprises, Stevens Institute of Technology (USA), and a former Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Center for Collective Intelligence of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has published numerous papers on the analysis of collaborative dynamics in firms, online and offline networks and industrial districts through the use of computational methodologies (agent-based modeling, data mining, fuzzy logic, semantic analysis, social network analysis). Professor Iandoli’s current research focuses on how online interaction and collaboration might be leveraged to help groups, organizations, communities, and companies to aggregate and store dispersed knowledge, to increase creativity, innovation and problem solving, and to support large-scale, collective intelligence or to counteract diffusion of misinformation and false beliefs in online social networks. He served as President of the European Council for Small Business and entrepreneurship (ECSB) from 2011 to 2013 and is currently President of the International Council for Small Business (ICSB).