Congratulations to DWR undergraduate major Komysha Hassan for receiving a well-deserved 2018 Honors in the Major thesis scholarship. Also congratulations to Steffen Guenzel for his pivotal role in guiding Komysha’s research as her Honors in the Major thesis chair. You both make us proud.

If you would like to learn more about Honors in the Major, you can visit or attend an upcoming Honors in the Major information session on April 3 or April 9 (see…/).


Read on to learn more about Komysha’s insightful research from her abstract: </p>


“The evolution of social media platforms and other public forums in the digital realm has created an explosion of user-generated content and data as a component of the already content-saturated digital landscape. The distributed, horizontal nature of the internet as a platform makes it difficult to ascertain value and differentiate between texts of varying validity, bias, and purpose. In addition, the internet is not an inanimate interface. As Pariser (2011) argues, content aggregators, such as Google, actively filter, personalize, and therefore limit each individual’s access to information, in both range and type. This has created a crisis of information valuation and control, as individuals increasingly exist within their own echo chambers, unchallenged by differing opinions or diverse viewpoints.

This “filter bubble” (Pariser, 2011) is often ignored or not recognized, and its effects are not fully acknowledged. Importantly, conventional curriculum does not furnish students with the information literacy tools necessary for them to navigate the digital landscape effectively. Information miners and developers, including news organizations, are falling victim to this fallacy as well (Kovach and Rosensteil, 2010). Lankshear and Knobel (2011) posit that empowering navigation and control in the digital landscape requires a new mindset. This research offers a context-driven approach that acknowledges this new mindset, promoting “rhetorical consciousness” (Murphy et al., 2003) within the network, and provides individuals with a framework to recognize, challenge, and co-create gatekeeping roles and mechanisms.”