Josh Introne

Josh Introne

Josh Introne is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information Studies, and new faculty as of fall 2019. Josh is passionate about trying to make the world a better place through collective intelligence. His work adopts a sociotechnical perspective, blending techniques and theories from complex adaptive systems, data science, and human computer interaction. His recent projects include designing an online support platform for people living with HIV / AIDS, and examining how stories evolve in online discussions about vaccines. Josh is eager to collaborate with students and other researchers who share these interests.

Prior to his appointment at the iSchool, Josh was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Information at Michigan State University. Dr. Introne holds masters and Ph.D degrees from the Brandeis University Computer Science Department.  During his graduate studies, he also worked as a scientist at Charles River Analytics to develop decision support platforms for a variety of government agencies. Following his graduate studies Josh was a post-doctoral fellow and research scientist at the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, where he served as Chief Architect for the MIT Climate CoLab, a platform designed to crowdsource solutions to climate change. 


Research

Josh studies collective intelligence and how new media can influence it. He focuses on research questions such as: How can we build online platforms that improve the lives of the people that use them in measurable waysHow do different media platforms influence how people evaluate and process (mis) informationWhat sorts of interfaces can help groups make good decisions? Josh’s work draws from many fields, including human-computer interaction, system dynamics, network science, and psychology. He is interested both in analyzing online activity and building socio-computational platforms. Josh has several ongoing research projects and is actively seeking students.  His active projects include:


Dynamics of Misinformation in online vaccination discussions: Online misinformation can influence public health attitudes, potentially costing billions of dollars and numerous lives. Online narratives are a critical object of inquiry because narratives are fundamental to how people construct socially shared belief systems, and they can be the primary means by which misinformation is spread online. It is therefore imperative that we develop a better understanding of the interplay between attitudes, misinformation, and narratives in online social contexts.

This project has recently been funded by the National Science Foundation will span a series of crowd-based experiments to investigate how people in online networks work together to combine misinformation to create and defend public health narratives. This work will extend current models of information contagion to account for the fact that individual pieces of information to which individuals are exposed depend on one another as well as the background knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes of receivers. The project will also consider how designed social signals, such as the number of 'likes' a post receives, and pre-existing attitudes interact.


Narratives and Extremism: This project is a counterpart to the recently funded NSF project described above, and seeks to correlate patterns of narrative use in online forums with extremism and toxicity.  This is an exploratory project, and one of its central aims is to develop a supervised machine-learning approach to extracting narratives from online posts. Our initial work has focused on developing a repeatable content analysis strategy to develop gold-standard data which will in turn be used as a basis for further analysis and to train machine-learning algorithms.


The Impact of Online Social Support for People Living with HIV: HIV is a viral infection that can be treated effectively with modern anti-retroviral therapy.  However, it is critical that people living with HIV (PLWH) engage actively with the health care system and take their medication regularly.  Unfortunately, the social stigma surrounding HIV (and HIV / AIDS) can present people with a barrier to obtaining and following such medical guidance. The goal of this project is to build an online social support site to address this problem, and measure the impact of participation in the site on clinical outcomes for PLWH.

This project is a collaborative project with A.J. Boggs, an IT company based in East Lansing, MI, and Matthew 25, an HIV clinic serving western Kentucky and southern Indiana.  The project begins with a participatory design effort, leading to an anticipated site launch in the second quarter of 2020, followed by an analysis of site usage to evaluate its impact.


Teaching

Josh teaches courses on data analytics, social network analysis, and sociotechnical systems, and aspires to teach a course on collective intelligence.  In the Fall of 2019, Josh will be teaching Information Visualization (IST719/421), and will be teaching a doctoral seminar on Social Network Analysis in the Spring of 2020l.


Personal

Josh likes to run around in the woods with his feral children and indefatigable German Shorthaired Pointer.  He tries to meditate whenever he can, spends more time than he should trying to perfect his Olympic lifts, and every now and then picks up a guitar and plays poorly.