2014 November Workshop

About the PoliInformatics Research Coordination Network Workshop

The PiNET research coordination network promotes interdisciplinary collaborations that lead to insights, resources and tools for making complex government issues and processes more transparent and accessible (see poliinformatics.org). In 2014 we supported research challenges within specific disciplines (computer science, political science, journalism) to investigate the 2007-08 Financial Crisis. These challenges attracted over 60 proposals and about 18 final submissions. In 2014-15, we are supporting two interdisciplinary research workshops. We expect about 40 participants from across disciplines to participate in the 2014 workshop.

2014 Workshop Theme.

Civic engagement is a public good. Broad participation by informed citizens should lead to better and more representative public policy. However, there is a significant gap between available information about government and what most citizens are able to process. Cognitively, people are inclined to engage in limited search, gravitate towards simplistic understandings of complex issues (dimension reduction), and are drawn to understandings consistent with their a priori worldviews. Governments tend to make data available in bulk with little consideration of how outsiders might use it. In some cases, public officials have limited incentives to support transparency while for-profit and non-profit entities are often more concerned with attracting audience than deep understanding.

As academics, we can help to bridge the divide between citizens and government information. We encourage projects that promote understanding of how public policies are made, for example by lowering the costs of search, by deciphering complex issues, and by encouraging appreciation of alternative viewpoints. Projects might entail the construction or linking of data sources, specific applications or tools; or basic research related to understanding dynamics of policymaking.

Workshop Objectives

This workshop will be a success if participants depart having joined an interdisciplinary team tackling a specific research objective. Ideally, teams will also be inspired to pursue funding for their projects. There will be a second workshop in 2015, where teams will present what they did and found.

The PINet team will seed these efforts by 1) having participants share advance information about their research interests; 2) showcasing data opportunities before and during the workshop; 3) providing free time to explore ideas and identify shared; and 4) encouraging project presentations and feedback.

Draft Agenda

Virtual Introductions: Participants share information about their research interests, methods, etc. posted at poliinformatics.org (see below)

Sunday, November 9th

  • ·  4pm-5pm Check in at IslandWood
  • ·  5pm-6:30pm Opening remarks and presentations
  • ·  6:30pm Reception
  • ·  7:00pm Dinner
  • ·  Free time (informal social meeting time)


Monday, November 10th

  • ·  7am-8am: (stroll to the beach?)
  • ·  8am-9:00am: Breakfast
  • ·  9am-11am: Speed dating with data
  • ·  11am-12:30: Research brainstorming
  • ·  12:30-2pm: Lunch break
  • ·  2pm-5pm: Formation of research teams
  • ·  5-6pm: Reception
  • ·  6pm-7pm: Dinner
  • ·  7pm: Team presentations and feedback

Tuesday, November 11th

  • ·  8am-9am: Breakfast
  • ·  9-12pm: Team planning meetings


The 2015 Workshop will take place between November 9th and November 11th. The location is Bainbridge Island, across the Puget Sound from Seattle, at the Islandwood Resort.

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The way to get on the island is through the ferry from Seattle’s Colman Dock. There are detailed schedules for November 9th and for November 11th.

The closest airport is Seattle Tacoma International, and the drive from the airport is about 30 minutes to the Colman Dock (through taxi services or UBER). With public transportation, the LINK, the ride is about 50 minutes and a few blocks from the stop to the Dock. Google Maps directions from the Airport.


(Images courtesy of http://www.islandwood.org/ and www.bainbridgechamber.com)

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