Storied Numbers: Enhancing Public Opinion Practices Using Digital Media Affordances
Robinson, Susan J.
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This dissertation investigates how digital media affordances may be used to enhance public opinion practices by altering the ways in which opinions are gathered and represented in the media. Digital media affordances include the ease with which mobile devices can converge text, audio, video, and pictures; employ computational routines to deliver and tailor instruments; and use network connections to report data immediately. The investigation features two case studies designed to evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of novel technologies within a proposed model of public opinion production. One case study examines the acceptability and feasibility of an experimental mobile survey mode that tightly couples closed-ended items with open-ended video responses. The other case study explores the presentation of the media-rich dataset resulting from the mobile survey by means of an interactive tabletop surface in the context of a broadcast television public issues program. The results of these case studies demonstrate the acceptability and feasibility of these technologies in the public opinion domain and the utility of using interdisciplinary theory from social and computing sciences in the design and evaluation of systems, and provide directions for future research.