Downstream Symposium Schedule

Thursday, May 5

6 – 7:30pm

Keynote Lecture: Whitney Phillips

Pulling Out the Network Map: Linking Ecological Theory and Practice on Social Media

This talk will offer an ecological framework for better understanding how we fit within the online landscape as well as concrete strategies for navigating that landscape as ethically as possible. The talk will also explore how wellbeing connects with social sharing–and what can go wrong when care is left out of media literacy efforts.

Friday, May 6

9 – 11am

Panel 1, It’s All Downstream: An Ecological Approach to Media Ethics, moderated by Alice Wynd

  • Whitney Phillips, Syracuse University, author of This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things (MIT, 2015), The Ambivalent Internet (Polity, 2017, with Ryan Millner), and You Are Here: A Field Guide for Navigating Polarized Speech, Conspiracy Theories, and Our Polluted Media Landscape” (MIT, 2021, also with Ryan Milner)
  • Evan Dawson, host of “Connections” (WXXI), author of Summer in a Glass: The Coming of Age of Winemaking in the Finger Lakes (Union Square, 2012)
  • Justin Murphy, Democrat and Chronicle, author of Your Children Are Very Greatly in Danger: School Segregation in Rochester, New York (Cornell, 2022)

Rochester is just one inlet in the media ecosystem, connected by the constant flows of information to the nation and world. Within its permeable boundaries, media professionals face the challenges of providing factual, relevant information to their community while effectively addressing toxic misinformation. This panel brings together a scholar of media ethics with two media professionals working in Rochester for a discussion of personal and professional approaches to informational pollution and media ethics at the community level.

11:30 – 12:30

Lunch Break

12:45 – 2:45

Panel 2, Publics in Peril: Online Communities and (Mis)Information, moderated by Byron Fong

  • Cantay Caliskan, University of Rochester, Goergen Institute for Data Science
  • Joshua Introne, Syracuse University, iSchool, director of C4 Lab
  • Wade Keye, University of Rochester, Visual and Cultural Studies

In this panel, our guests will discuss the ways publics are formed, maintained, and challenged online. From the public knowledge collected in online wikis, to the depth and complexity of gaming communities’ cultural productions, and in the transmission of political affect on social media, these shared digital projects represent the structures by which we define ourselves. Cutting across disciplines, these three scholars will discuss their unique research into the social and political implications of these media.

3 – 4:30pm

Social Media Data Analytics Workshop

Joshua Introne, Syracuse University, iSchool, director of C4 Lab

Workshop:  Mixed methods for studying online beliefs
In this workshop, Professor Introne will provide training with two novel methods for examining publicly expressed beliefs through the lens of online user-generated texts. The first of these methods (described in [1] and [2]) is a manual content analysis approach that draws on prior work in narrative grammars. This method can be used to analyze narrative content that develops either within an individual’s posts, or across those of many different people. Attendees will be provided with the research bases for the approach, a codebook they can adapt for their own practice, and recommendations for how to apply the technique to achieve sufficient inter-rater reliability.

The second method is based on Professor Introne’s current (unpublished) research using data-driven techniques to extract statements of belief from online posts (e.g., Twitter) in order to analyze the “belief-landscape” for a given virtual space. The method relies on several python libraries and pre-trained text models. Introne will provide participants with hands-on training and the necessary tools to perform the analysis, including a Spacy ( pipeline component developed by his lab to simplify the belief extraction process. Participants will work on a remote Jupyter notebook and will not be required to install any software libraries locally.  Experience with Python will be helpful, but is not required.

[1] Introne, J., Korsunska, A., Krsova, L. and Zhang, Z. 2020. Mapping the Narrative Ecosystem of Conspiracy Theories in Online Anti-vaccination Discussions. International Conference on Social Media and Society (Toronto, ON, Canada, Jul. 2020), 184–192.
[2] Introne, J., Gokce Yildirim, I., Iandoli, L., DeCook, J. and Elzeini, S. 2018. How People Weave Online Information Into Pseudoknowledge. Social Media + Society. 4, 3 (Jul. 2018). DOI: