Scott Johnson is an early-stage researcher, a Master’s candidate in Library and Information Science at the University of Washington, and an experienced systems analyst, data analyst, and software engineer.
In early 2021 Scott changed careers to become a researcher of social information dynamics and the emergence and influence of collective beliefs. He has been studying these ideas as an amateur since 2003, but was encouraged by recent and ongoing events to begin to formalize his research efforts and pursue a graduate degree starting in the fall of 2021.
Scott aspires to become employed in researching the dynamics of disinformation, digital influence, collective behavior, and trends in technology and social media; and in organizing knowledge and creating projects to support an informed civil society. He is actively looking for professional engagement or funding opportunities to support his work while he completes his degree.
Scott seeks to understand the emergence of mis/disinformation, extremist ideologies, cults, and conspiracy theories as social-informational feedback dynamics within a complex information ecosystem. He is particularly interested in the social construction of shared beliefs and the legitimation of alternate and unfounded systems of knowledge. He tries to apply this understanding toward mitigating the harms of social media platforms and digital influence on individuals and communities.
Scott’s research is grounded in the perspectives of complexity science, systems thinking, and cybernetics. It conceptualizes human beliefs as a collective information dynamic rooted in enactive and distributed cognition and amplified by stigmergic feedback loops through media and information technologies. He uses a mixture of qualitative, investigatory, and social analytic research methods, combined with secondary research drawn from a variety of disciplines in order to understand how communities and organizations make collective sense of the world.
Scott holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics from the College of William & Mary in 2004. Before becoming a researcher, Scott accumulated 15+ years of industry experience as a systems analyst, data analyst, and software engineer for a variety of corporations. His major contributions in those roles took the form of helping organizations make sense of their implicit understanding of their own sociotechnical systems and processes, toward some applied end.
You can contact Scott with any questions.
Scott currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (formerly San Francisco, California) but does most of his work and learning virtually. In his free time Scott takes urban/street and nature photography.