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Abstract I was an opponent of nuclear power. However, my position changed when I realised my fear towards nuclear power are mainly based on one misleading image (Fig. 3). Then, I started to wonder that since every individual has certain right to decide our future in the democratic society, misleading information might be more dangerous than nuclear radiation. Furthermore, due to the development of Internet, misleading information might become viral,

→→ Fig. 3 on page 14

spread rapidly, and then lead to confirmation biases. In this research, I attempt to understand how could I, an information designer, reduce the negative impact of misleading information. By comparing two daily consumption, food and information, I found that the way we consume information is much less carefully. When we are choosing what to eat, we might check the nutrition facts first. However, in the case of information, we might just start to read an article with sensational title or images regardless ‘nutrition’. Hence, my design proposal is revealing the ‘nutrition facts‘ of web pages to offer Internet users more clues about what they are going to consume.




11 Introduction 19 Research Methods 31 My Definition of Disinformation 51 Experiments 101 Conclusion & Design Proposal 105 Bibilography 109 Appendix A. Personal Reflection



Introduction An opponent of nuclear power I am from Taiwan; a country has similar geolocation condition to Japan. So it is no surprise that the debate between for and against nuclear power was brought up again after Fukushima Disaster, which happened on 11 March 2011 (Fig. 1). After two years in Taiwan, the public concern of the nuclear power lead to an antinuclear protest estimated 200,000 people participated (Fig. 2). In the beginning, I was an opponent of nuclear power and finding a possible approach to stop nuclear power in Taiwan. However, after diving into the debate between for and against nuclear power, I have found that my main fear about nuclear power was based on a piece of disinformation (Fig. 3) which attempts to make a connection between nuclear bomb and possible aftermath of nuclear power plants accident. It is shameful to admit that I even used this image as supporting evidence while illustrating my fear towards nuclear power to my friends.

An opponent of disinformation Disinformation of nuclear power is not merely a local issue; I also found some international examples of disinformation about Fukushima Disaster (Fig. 4, Fig. 5). Furthermore, those pieces of disinformation are


Fig. 1 ‘Fukushima Disaster‘ Google Images Search Result.

Fig. 2 Taiwan’s Anti-Nuclear Protest on March 11, 2013


so popular that Google Images Search Result would suggest those pictures as ‘Nuclear Fallout Map‘. Then I started to wonder that disinformation of nuclear power might be more dangerous than nuclear radiation, especially in the democratic society, every one has the power to decide our future. Furthermore, due to the development of Internet, everyone has the ability to express personal opinions. On top of that, people who have Photoshop or story telling skills could even amplify their own thought —— regardless of true or false, neutral or biased. When I try to approach the issue of disinformation from memetics (see also p.34), an information theory which attempts to bring the evolution theory from biosphere to concept kingdom, I found that being disinformation (short definition: misleading false information, see also p.31) might be just a strategy for one piece of information to survive, which means drawing enough attention from the public. What’s more, in the world of Internet, attraction is equal to web traffic, which has a positive correlation with the revenue from online advertisement. This might be one of the possible intentions why people create disinformation.

Reduce the negative impact of disinformation Back to my own experience on being mislead by disinformation, I found that the influence of disinformation happens when I was browsing huge amount of data. Those colorful images stay in my


Fig. 3 “What Might Happen if Fourth Nuclear Power Plant Goes Wrong“ A fake newspaper circulating on Internet. See also Experiment #1 on page 52


Fig. 4 ‘Nuclear Fallout Map‘, A fraud suggested by See also Experiment #2 on page 59

Fig. 5 ‘Nuclear Fallout Map‘. The original title is ‘Tsunami Wave Height Model Shows Pacific-Wide Impact’ from NOAA


Fig. 6 Google Images Search Result, ‘fukushima nuclear fallout map‘, captured on 24/02/2014.


mind unconsciously. In other words, I found that the action of browsing is quite similar to the brain washing process, even though I didn’t click on the search results, those sensational titles and snapshots may still shape my way of thinking to certain degree. In addition, by comparing two daily consumption, food and information, I found that the way we consume information is much less carefully. While choosing what to eat, we might read the nutrition facts on the package first. I suspect this is also related to the fact that we are aware the limited size of stomach. However, in the case of information, we might just be attracted by sensational titles or snapshots, and consume huge amount of information or disinformation. Hence, my design proposal (“Conclusion & Design Proposal” on page 101) is to reveal the ‘nutrition facts‘ of a webpage by gathering quantifiable data and common misleading information suggested by editors on one web page. For example, how hard the web page tries to sell something; what kind of language the web page uses; how many known common misleading images are used; is discussion allowed? Finally, based on the ‘nutrition facts’, Internet users could have more clues about what they are going to read.



Research Methods In order to introduce the research methods, I would like to introduce the research structure I followed in the second year, which is proposed by Joost in the opening ceremony of the second year. There are three basic phases in the research structure: position, synthesis, translation.

Position The meaning of position could be further explained by two questions, ‘why me?‘, and ‘why now‘. To answer the first question, I have to find a personal research topic, which fits my skill sets, preference, and my definition of mission as an information designer. To answer the second question, I try to collect enough information about my topic by books (“Physical Books” on page 21), TED (“TED” on page 23), and Facebook group related to my topic (“Facebook Group” on page 21). The most relevant findings are summarised in “My Definition of Disinformation” on page 31.

Synthesis This phase is about synthesising a design proposal based on data I collected and assumption came to my mind (“Conclusion & Design Proposal” on page 101).


In order to develop my design proposal, I designed several experiments (“Experiment” on page 24) to help me concentrate on one single possible approach. When I got lost by too many possible approaches, I tried to visualise my research process in order to help me decide which approach I should focus first (“Visualisation” on page 24). Another research method I used quite often in this phase is writing (“Physical Books” on page 21), sometimes I feel like I am a thinking-by-writing kind.

Translation In this phase, the designed proposal supposed to be translated into a design, which implies a clear message with an intriguing form in order to communicate with target audiences easily. Since this phase continues after the the deadline of the thesis, the translation phase is not fully documented in current version of thesis.


Position Physical Books Reading organised and well-edited information is a pure pleasure, especially when Chinese translation available. My choice of books is mainly based on how famous or classic the book is. And I prefer to have a combination of new books and old ones. By new books, like The Information (James Gleick, 2012), I could understand the overview or latest development in certain area. I could also find the clue of classic books by frequent citations. By old books, e.g., The Selfish Gene (Richard Dawkins, 1976), I could find the original context and thinking of one theory, in which is clearer, not interpreted by someone else. Another trick is to choose a book with Chinese translation version, since I believe publishers would make their selection before investing the effort of translating.

Facebook Group I got information about latest debate between for and against nuclear power from a Facebook group, ‘Nuclear MythBusters‘ 1(translated from Chinese). The best part of the ‘Nuclear MythBusters‘ is that people are discussing nuclear issue in a more rational, logic, transparent way. It might be the only place I can 1  ‘Nuclear MythBusters‘, 核能流言終結者



Fig. 7 Feedback from ‘Nuclear Mythbusters‘

meet renewable energy supporter and nuclear power supporter at the same time. For example, I also tried to get feedback about the fake newspaper (Fig. 3). In the end I got 52 comments (Fig. 7), including a link to the origin photo of the atomic bomb explosion, a pizza picture looks like nuclear bomb explosion, a video about the basic knowledge of nuclear power, two videos about nuclear weapon, and one misleading poster designed for

→→ Fig. 3 on page 14

anti-nuclear speech, which using nuclear bomb as background image.

TED I remember that once Joost mentioned that, ‘video is new default’. I may also argue that, ‘TED is the new default’. Usually I am amazed by how much knowledge and inspiration I have gain through 5 or 10 minutes TED talk. For example, ‘Dangerous Memes’ 2, ‘Memes and Temes’ 3, ‘Debate: Does the world need nuclear energy?’4. To certain extent, TED is a sort of filter highlighting impactful and influential information.

2  Dangerous Memes, by Dan Dennett 3  Memes and Temes Susan Blackmore html 4  Debate: Does the world need nuclear energy? Stewart Brand + Mark Z. Jacobson


Synthesis Writing I have heard about the term, ‘thinking by doing’ for a while. So I am not surprised when I found I am a ‘thinking by writing’ person. I may admit that I am quite enjoying writing thesis, by which I could rethink and criticise the importance of each part of research, and sometimes I could find clues for interpreting my previous intuition. Writing is also a tool for me to reflect and to make decision, like what should be included or excluded.

Visualisation Visualisation is still an effective tool to communicate, not only to other people, but also to myself. In the case I felt like I am lost in my research process, and I can’t think the whole situation only by writing, I will try to make some simple visualisation (Fig. 8, Fig. 9) to help me understand what I have done, especially which happened intuitively.

Experiment Due to my tendency of being distracted easily, my mentors advised me to progress with specific objective in order to keep me on track, and prevent me from jumping to conclusion just by thinking. I would agree that progressing by experiments is a great tool to help me focus, filtered out unrelated information, be


patient to discover something unexpected, or prove my hypothesis. An experiment might be collecting and synthesising data around one specific point (e.g. Experiment #1 on page 52), or something more like use programming to visualise hidden pattern (e.g. Experiment #3 on page 67).


Fig. 8 An example of process visualisation




Fig. 9 Another example of process visualisation



My Definition of Disinformation Due to the concern of communication, I chose ‘misleading information‘ instead of ‘disinformation‘ in my title eventually. However, in the beginning, my research theme was ‘online disinformation of Fukushima.‘ To begin with, I would like to borrow the definition from Oxford Dictionary. Disinformation is false information which is intended to mislead, especially propaganda issued by a government organization to a rival power or the media. ── Oxford Dictionary My definition of disinformation is developed by expanding the definition on Oxford Dictionary further, from the aspects of ‘false’, ‘information’, ‘intended’, ‘mislead’, ‘rival power’, and ‘media’. In this research, nuclear power is used as the study case, and the focus of media is Internet.


False There are many things can’t be proven as right or wrong, like something related to religion or politics. However, when it comes to scientific, it is easier to prove one thing contradicts with the best understanding of human scientific theory. For example, “a nuclear power plant failed will lead to an explosion like nuclear bomb” contradicts with current scientific theory, because the ratio of U235 in fuel in nuclear power plant and nuclear bomb are much different.

Why a nuclear power plant failed won’t lead to an explosion like nuclear bomb? The first reason is that nuclear power is designed to be controlled, not to destroy. The second reason is that the nuclear bomb uses highly enriched U235 fuel (90% U235 and 10% U238), however, the nuclear power plant uses low enriched U235 fuel (5% U235 and 95% U238). And the amount of U235 determines the speed of nuclear fission.1 Another case could be proven false easily is changing the original title of a graph. In this case, the disinformation could be debunked easily by finding the original source. For example, Fig. 5 is →→ Fig. 5 on page 15


1  Why a Nuclear Reactor Cannot Explode like an Atom Bomb

commonly mistitled as ‘Fukushima Nuclear Fallout Map‘ on Internet, but originally, the title of this graph is ‘‘Tsunami Wave Height Model Shows Pacific-Wide Impact” 2. There is another case of information could be proven as false due to the disclaimer of the data source. For example, Fig. 4 (see also Experiment #3 on page 67) is suggested as a false information by Snopes. com because the graph pretend the data source is from one scientific institution, which disclaimed they have any connection with the graph.

→→ Fig. 4 on page 15

The map bore the logo of the Australian Radiation Services (ARS), an organization which has disclaimed any connection with it. ── Nuclear Fallout Map, Snopes.com3

2  Tsunami Wave Height Model Shows Pacific-Wide Impact 3  Nuclear Fallout Map


Information One thing I would like to highlight here is that disinformation is also a sort of information, which implies that disinformation spreads like normal information via Google Search, Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter. Usually disinformation tries to pretend itself as common information. Sometimes, disinformation might be more sensational than common information in order to allure Internet users to help it spread. In order to make further discussion, I would like to model disinformation by a information theory, memetics. Memetics tries to regard an viral idea as a form of live, i.e., an idea will evolve and try to survive, which means, constantly get attention from people. Memetics Memetics is about meme, which is coined by the evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, in his book, The Selfish Gene (1976). To my best understanding, Dawkins tries to expand the definition of life by bringing the concept of genes from biosphere to the concept kingdom. That is to say, when genes live in biosphere, memes live in concept kingdom. The following quotes might be able to offer the fundamental understanding of meme.

Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases,


clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. ── Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, 1976. Memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation. ── Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, 1976. Dawkins proposed memetics in 1976. Recently, Gleick brought up this term again in his book, The Information (2011), with a further interpretation which might fit the information age better. They [memes] compete with one another for limited resources: brain time or bandwidth. They compete most of all for attention. For example: Ideas. Whether an idea arises uniquely or reappears many times, it may thrive in the meme pool or it may dwindle and vanish. ── Gleick, The Information, 2011. Memes emerge in the brain and travel outward, establishing beachheads on paper and celluloid and silicon and anywhere information can go. They are not to be thought of as elementary particles but as organisms. The number three is not a meme; nor is the color blue, nor any simple thought, any more than a single nucleotide can be a gene. Memes are complex units, distinct and memorable-units with staying power. ── Gleick, The Information, 2011. However, the one really offers me a clearer thought


about memes is a TED talk, Dangerous Memes, by Dennett. ... memes are like viruses. That’s what Richard said, back in ‘93. ... what’s a virus? A virus is a string of nucleic acid with attitude. That is, there is something about it that tends to make it replicate better than the competition does. And that’s what a meme is. It’s an information packet with attitude. ... They’re made of information, and can be carried in any physical medium. ── Dennett, Dangerous memes, 20024 Combining Dennett’s definition, I may argue that only disinformation which is viral might be closer to the concept of meme. Meanwhile, it may not be so easy to see a non-viral disinformation in our regular browsing experience. Secondly, memes should be ‘memorableunits with staying power’ (Gleick, 2011). From this point of view, I would suggest that a disinformation image might be memorable enough to be a meme. However, the title of image is also crucial in terms of being a meme for a single image. For example, Fig. 5 became viral when people started to title it as ‘radioactive seawater‘, or ‘nuclear fallout‘ instead of ‘tsunami height‘. Although the intriguing color of this image might be one reasons to make this image viral, →→ Fig. 5 on page 15

I suspect that the core reason makes Fig. 5 viral is the fear to nuclear power hidden in the misleading titles. Summarising the above, the most relevant characteristics of meme I would like to borrow are as follows: 4  Dan Dennett: Dangerous memes


─ Attention is meme’s food. ─ A meme just does his best to survive (There is no right or wrong in meme’s world) ─ Meme evolves to be more attractive. Since I am quite curious about how memes would look like, I made few illustration for communication (Fig. 10, Fig. 11, Fig. 12). In my imagination, memes should have a changeable appearance like cloud, with a sharp part on the tail, which implies that meme is always ready to attach to people, or, victims.


Fig. 10 Attention is meme’s food. A meme will die if it doesn’t have enough food (attention).

Fig. 11 Meme tries to survive. There is no right or wrong in Meme’s world.


Fig. 12 Meme evolves to survive, which means, be more attractive.


Intended Maybe only the original author of the disinformation (like Fig. 4) and people who knows that is false information are able to mislead people intentionally. Without knowing the information is false, people are just spread it unintentionally. Hence, I would like to introduce another term, misinformation. Misinformation is false or inaccurate information that is spread unintentionally. It is distinguished from disinformation, which is intended to mislead. ── Misinformation, Wikipedia5 The difference between disinformation and misinformation also explains why I changed a part of my title from disinformation to misleading information.

5  Misinformation, Wikipedia


Mislead Usually, there are two kinds of people involve in the action of mislead, A mislead B, or we put in a more literal way, an attacker and a victim. From the perspective of the victim being mislead, a piece of disinformation might be able to mislead a kid, not an adult. So how easily a person could be mislead might be determined by how much knowledge, common sense, sceptical spirit, and confirmation biased a person has. In the case of nuclear power, I may argue that the lack of common sense make the disinformation of nuclear power spread widely comparing with different energy generation methods. For example, we can see how fire power works by boiling water. We can see how water power works by water mill. And wind power could be proven by windmill. The solar power could be explained by old school calculator. However, the nuclear power is totally a different story. Undoubtedly, a certain ratio of daily electricity supply is from nuclear power in majority of countries. Nevertheless, the most ‘daily life’ example of nuclear power we can find is nuclear power plant itself, which we can only see some concrete structures (i.e. containment building and cooling tower) from outside. To certain extent, the nuclear power might be the most mysterious energy generating technology.


The second thing I would like to highlight here is the confirmation bias. To make the discussion more clear, I borrowed the definition of confirmation bias from Social Psychology. A tendency to search for information that confirms one’s existing beliefs and to avoid information which contradicts these beliefs. ── Catherine, Social Psychology, 2010 Confirmation bias might explain why I was mislead by the fake newspaper (Fig. 3). I knew the newspaper is totally a hoax, however, I was influenced by my previous confirmation bias that nuclear power is →→ Fig. 3 on page 14

dangerous. Then my confirmation bias that nuclear power is dangerous ‘upgraded’ to nuclear power is dangerous because it might explode like a nuclear bomb. Moreover, confirmation bias might function in a more biological level, which implies that we people are not designed to do perfectly rational thinking. “Emotionally biased thinking may be hard-wired into our brinas“, suggested by Western (Fig. 13).


Fig. 13 ‘This is your brain on politics’, from ‘unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation’ by Brooks Jackson, Kathleen Hall, 2007


Rival Power The only thing I would like to highlight here is that renewable energy might not be the rival of nuclear power. Since nuclear power is a kind of technology to generate electricity, it is logical to think the rival power of nuclear power are different ways of generating power; especially those are categorised as renewable energy. However, I found that the energy issue is more complicated than I thought, i.e., maybe to certain extent, nuclear power and renewable energy also have a kind of cooperative relationship. For example, Denmark is famous for the policy of no nuclear power plant built in the country6. However, the dependency of imported nuclear power has an increasing tendency in the last 4 years. The analysis, made by, showed that 14 percent of DONG’s energy distribution came from nuclear plants in 2012, compared to seven percent in 2011 and just one percent in 2010. Wind energy declined during the same period.

6  Nuclear Energy in Denmark Denmark/


── The Copenhagen Post7 In the case of Germany, after Fukushima Disaster Merkel’s government announced that it would close all of its nuclear power plants by 20228, however, in 2013, Germany produces more electricity from nuclear power (92.3 TWh) than wind power (47.2 TWh), solar power (29.7 TWh), and water power (15.4 TWh) according to a report from Fraunhofer 9 (Fig. 14). In the same report, they also mention that Germany depends on electricity import from France (Fig. 15), which is famous for its highest percentage of electricity from nuclear power (75%).10

7 More nuclear power flowing through Danish outlets 8  Germany: Nuclear power plants to close by 2022 9  Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Electricity production from solar and wind in Germany in 2013 news/electricity-production-from-solar-and-wind-in-germany-in-2013. pdf 10  Nuclear share figures, 2002-2012  


Fig. 14 ‘Electricity production in 2013’ by Fraunhofer


Fig. 15 ‘Electricity Export and Import’ by Fraunhofer


Media As a digital native, when I think of Media, I think of Internet, which is the main source for me to perceive the world. This might be the reason why I was angry when I found disinformation also online. Or maybe I should think this in another way around, whenever one media becomes reliable, people with power will try to control it, or use it as a tool to manipulate the public.

Anarchy on Internet The first nature of Internet I would like to underline is anarchism, which means everyone has the right to propose, compose, synthesis, argue, discuss, like, dislike, and spread. This is why I think Internet is more reliable than TV or newspaper, since not only people who are capable to run a media corporate could speak loudly. Conversations happened more often on Internet. By contrast, TV and newspaper are more like one-way communication, content of which are edited and selected by a specific group of ‘professionals‘. Although a possible consequence of anarchism is chaos, like what might already happened on our Facebook newsfeed. On the other hand, another possible outcome of anarchism is autonomous cooperation like Wikipedia, which is not only a ‘website allowed everyone to edit‘. Actually Wikipedia has developed several rules in order to maintain high quality content, for example, the role of notability or


neutral point of view. On Wikipedia a test used by editors to decide whether a topic can have its own article. ── Notability, Wikipedia11 ... representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic. ── Neutral Point of View, Wikipedia12 If we may agree that Wikipedia has developed rules to maintain content quality successfully to certain sense, it might be interesting to use these rules to check how neutral current online media and news are. However, anarchism also brought up the issue of anonymous, which allows people not to be responsible to what they have produced like those disinformation blogs.

Attraction = Money Another nature of Internet worthy mentioning is ‘attraction equals to money‘. People are used to the idea of ‘free’ Internet, which might result in the fact that content providers and service providers have to make their livings by online advertisement. This rule is not only applied to small 11  Wikipedia:Notability 12  Wikipedia:Neutral point of view


blogs, but also huge Internet companies, like Google or Facebook. I may argue that as long as people generate revenue by making their content more attractive (or viral), there will be more and more attraction trap. That is to say, the capability of drawing attention becomes first priority, instead of knowledge, wisdom. What could be further discussed is that although misleading might be a strategy to draw attention from people today, maybe the strategy of drawing attention becomes debunking disinformation tomorrow. This argument is based on the phenomenon that although there are misinformation blogs, there are also websites devoting on debunking disinformation, like and Personally I am looking forward to the possible trend of debunking disinformation, which might make the public smarter in the long term.


Experiments In this section, all the experiments I have investigated during the research will be introduced. An experiment might be collecting and synthesising data around one specific point (e.g. Experiment #1 on page 52), or something more like use programming to visualise hidden pattern (e.g. Experiment #3 on page 67).


Experiment #1

Investigate ‘What Might Happen if Fourth Nuclear Power Plant Goes Wrong‘

Objective Investigate the image source of disinformation (Fig. 3) and what kind of relevant data are available, like metadata.

→→ Fig. 3 on page 14

Hypothesis The material for making the disinformation should be able to be found on Internet, specifically by Google. Conclusion 1. All the image materials of Fig. 3 could be found by Google. 2. However, lots of manual efforts, even some luck are involved to find the exact image source. Hence I doubt if it is possible to dissect a photoshopped image by pure algorithm. 3. The context of using the image also offers another layer of information.


Procedure 1. Finding background image Basically the content of background image is easy to be recongnised by the tall building, Taipei 101. However I can only find the right background photo when my friend figured out there is a christmas tree on the tall building. As a Taiwanese, I knew that Taipei 101 always decorates their building according to different festivals, so the picutre should be taken around Christmas. Also, after seeing like 50 different images about Taipei, I started to suspect that the background image is taken from a mountain, called Xiangshan. In the end, I found the background image (Fig. 17)1 successfully. 2. Nuclear explosion I got the keyword of the nuclear explosion, ‘BADGER Event ‘, luckily when I asked for people’s comment about the disinformation on the ‘Nuclear MythBusters’, a public Facebook group in Taiwan. And of course once I got the keyword, I could find more information by Google. On the source page of BADGER Event (Fig. 19)2, I saw one line about credit. Should these photos be used in any manner that requires a credit line, the wording should read: “Photo courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration / Nevada Field Office”. ── National Nuclear Security Administration / Nevada 1  Image:Taipei night view from Xiangshan.jpg 2  BADGER Event


Fig. 16 Part of Fig. 3 for comparison

Fig. 17 Taipei night view from Xiangshan.jpg


Fig. 18 Part of Fig. 3 for comparison

Fig. 19 BADGER Event Photo courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration / Nevada Field Office


Field Office This credit line reveals that Nevada Field Office might have been aware of this photo might be misused in unexpected context. In addition to the dissect of the picture itself, I also tried to visit the web page suggested by Google Search to check if there is any specific pattern in terms of size and date. I got 17 image search results from Google. The image sizes are varied from 960x720 to 400x300 (Fig. 20). I am fond of image size because I thought the original copies might be the biggest one, however, some people suggested the original copy was from a Facebook page, which is not accessible for the public 3. Plus, among the 17 images, I could find 15 images have specific publish dates. It is interesting to find that the copies are clustered around March 11, 2013, the day of anti-nuclear protest. Yet, I don’t know what kind of criteria that Google used for suggesting search results.

3  The possible source page of Fig. 3


Fig. 20 Image sizes of differenet copies of Fig. 3 suggested by Google Images Search


Fig. 21 Visualisation of publish date of 15 search results of Fig. 3


Experiment #2

Investigate ‘Nuclear Fallout Map‘

Objective Find a global instance of disinformation of Fukushima Disaster, then dissect it as Experiment #1. Hypothesis I could find much more data to find meaning pattern if I could find an global case of disinformation. Conclusion 1. What suggested by Google Images Search might be images ‘highly correlated to the keyword‘, including positive correlation and negative correlation. 2. Found a website,, focuses on debunking disinformation. 3. The origin source of this disinformation might be anonymous.


Procedure 1. Find global instance Since I have kept tracking the debate between for and against nuclear power, I have heard about some famous misleading images of the fallout map of Fukushima Disaster. By Google Images Search (Fig. 22)4, I figured out the misleading image (Fig. 4) easily due to the fact that some of the copies of the image have an overlay titles with ‘FRAUD‘, or ‘HOAX MAP‘. Meanwhile, I started to wonder that what suggested by Google Images Search Engine is more about the correlation, including positive correlation and negative correlation, not correctness. 2. The context of disinformation image Usually this image goes with certain text as follows (Fig. 23). I hope people realize this is amazingly serious if a meltdown happens. The Fallout will travel according to the trade winds... 80-120 rads - You have a 10% chance of vomiting and experiencing nausia for a few days 130 -170 rads - You have a 25% chance of vomiting and contracting other symptoms 180-220 rads - You have a 50% chance of vomiting and having other severe physical effects 4  Google Images Search Result of ‘Fukushima Fallout Map’ 00&safe=off&espv=210&es_sm=91&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=R0Q5U8zRCuqAywO-5oL4Ag&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAQ&biw=1371&bih=707&dpr=0.9


Fig. 22 Google Images Search Result of ‘Fukushima Fallout Map‘


270-330 rads - 20% chance of death in 6 weeks, or you will recover in a few months. 400-500 rads - 50% chance of death 550-750 rads - Nausea within a few hours ; no survivors > 1000 rads - immediate incapacitation and death within a week or less. 3. Debunking disinformation One of unexpected findings is that I found a website,, focusing on debunking all kinds of disinformation. suggested this misleading image (Fig. 4) is a false image because “the map bore the logo of the Australian Radiation Services (ARS), an organization which has disclaimed any connection with it.” 5 Due to this clue, I have found the snapshot of →→ Fig. 4 on page 15

disclaimer of Australian Radiation Services (ARS) (Fig. 24)6. 4. Possible Origin of ‘Nuclear Fallout Map‘ During my research, some web pages suggested that ‘nuclear fallout map‘ is origin from an anonymous website, 4chan, which is an “an English-language imageboard website. Users generally post anonymously, with the most recent posts appearing above the rest.” 7 5  ‘Nuclear Fallout Map’, 6  Copy of the disclaimer of ARS 7  4chan, Wikipedia


Fig. 23 A using example of disinformation


Fig. 25 is from chan4chan 8, which is “an image hosting site. It automatically mirrors pictures from various specific sites, and lets visitors submit images from the web.” The ‘specific websites’ also includes 4chan.

8  Nuclear Fallout Map, chan4chan


Fig. 24 Disclaimer of the organisation owns the logo on the disinformation


Fig. 25 Nuclear Fallout Map on chan4chan


Experiment #3

Tracing Disinformation

Objective Visualise the spread of disinformation by gathering available data suggested by ‘Search by Images‘ of Google Images Search. Hypothesis According to a research from WorldWideWebSize. com9, there at least 1.91 billion web pages indexed. Hence I assume majority of web pages could be accessed by Google Search, which potentially offer my enough data to reveal interesting pattern. Conclusion 1. Although Google Images Search said ‘About 282,000 results (0.77 seconds)‘10, Google only shows the first 800 search results. 2. I have no idea how Google Images Search implements exactly. I don’t know what is the difference between the importance of first suggested result and the 10th suggested page. The only thing I could guess is that Google applies the same algorithm to each image most of the time.

9  The size of the World Wide Web (The Internet) 10  Google Images Search of ‘Nuclear Fallout Map‘


Procedure 1. Big data Big Data has become a handy tool to reveal unexpected pattern recently. As an information designer with computer science background, I treat Big Data as a sort of my possible strength. So I was wondering how much data I could extract from the Google Images Search Results. 2. Search by image ‘Search by Image’ is an interesting feature of Google Images Search, which reveals different copies of one image. (Fig. 26). For each copy, Google offers two links: a link to the webpage contains the copy of the image, and a link to the copy of the image itself. 3. Obtain ‘geolocation’ and ‘last Modified Data’ As long as I get the link to the webpage, I can get the IP address to the web address. Then, the geolocation of the IP could be found by locatorhq.com11. In other words, the server hosts the web page. In addition, the ‘Last Modified Date‘ could be accessed by few lines of coding12. Step 2. and Step 3. are summarised as Fig. 27. 4. Data visualisation In the end, I just used a straight forward way to translate the data into two versions of visualisation. In the visualisation, a bigger circle means more 11 12 ‘Get the Last Modified date of an URL’ on StackOverFlow


Fig. 26 An example of ‘Search by Image‘


copies storing in the same geolocation (longitude and latitude). In order to give more meaning to the visualisation, different images are visualised for comparison. The first two are common misleading images, and the last one is from United States Department of Energy13. The first visualisation (Fig. 28) is more static, which shows where the server storing the copy of the image locates. Something should be aware is that the server location doesn’t directly reflect where the target audience locates. The second visualisation (Fig. 29)14 is in the form of animation, which uses the ‘last modified date‘ as a sort of time stamp to reveal how the image spreads. In this visualisation, each circle would shrink slowly when time goes by to show the feeling of being ignored by the public. 5. Explain in a memetic way Another approach to explain the result of visualisation is from the perspective of memetics. A misleading image is a sort of meme using misleading as survival strategy, which gives the misleading image an opportunity to appear in two different contexts: misleading and clarifying. Then, what Google Search Engine has implemented is a ‘natural selection‘ of all the information on Internet. 13  THE SITUATION IN JAPAN (UPDATED 1/25/13), 14  ‘Tracing Disinformation‘ on Vimeo


from Google

1. URL to Image Source Page 2. URL to Image


The Geological Information, llike Latitude and Longitude of Image Host The IP Address of Image Host

from the image host

The “Last Modified Date” of the Image

Fig. 27 How to get the geolocation and ‘Last Modified Date‘


What survived after the ‘natural selection’ are the memes draw more attention from the Internet users. Hence, the visualisation shows how the survived memes reproduce and transport on the Earth.


Fig. 28 Visualisation I. focuses more on distribution of geolocation


Fig. 29 Visualisation II. focuses more on time


Experiment #4 Dissect a Web Page

Objective Is this possible to tell a web page might be disinformation by gathering available information on one single page? Or to what extent can I suggest one web page contains suspicious content. Hypothesis I assume there is some sort of special pattern of disinformation website. For example, more money related text or link, or sensational content encourage people to share. Conclusion 1. When I found a professional look disinformation website, I suspect it might be impossible to judge if a web page containing disinformation by pure algorithm. 2. A possible approach is using existing debunking knowledge. For example, use common known misleading images as indicators, just like virus patterns to antivirus software. 3. I don’t have to stick on 100% working software. Showing the whole concept is much more important.


Procedure 1. A study case This experiment started with one web page15 (Fig. 30) with professional look and common misleading image. 2. Possible aspects to analyse a web page This step is purely in concept level, not too much practical concerns are involved. At that time, the possible aspects to analyse a web page are as follows: how sensational the text is, the average sentence length, how credible the author is, source of images, layout analysis, how much money related info, how many self links, is discussion thread included. 3. Make it as a Chrome extension This step is super engineering. On the other hand, I think using real data is much more than using fictional data as illustration.Basically, you can learn how to write a Chrome extension just by ‘enough’ online research. And the best starting point is always the official tutorial16. In short, what Chrome extension could do is adding extra html elements on any web page based on the existing elements. In addition, Chrome Extension is a kind of Javascript, so it is possible to benefit from existing Javascript library to write Chrome extension. In my case, I was heavily dependent on JQuery17 to 15  Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War: The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation 16 What are extensions? 17 JQuery


Fig. 30 An example of coloring how sensational each text is.


help me parse the HTML code. However, there is still some security issues, for example, you need to give special permission to allow Chrome use libraries involving local file access, like Paper.js18. So in the end I used the super fundamental HTML5 canvas to draw everything. Finally, I implemented few features like sentence length analysis (Fig. 32) and link analysis (Fig. 33). 4. As a designer ... One of personal struggles is sometimes I forget my role as a designer when I recalled too much pride of my previous identity, a software developer. For example, I spent one day to teach my program what a ‘title’ is. Usually the title is the sentence with biggest font in one page. Another example is how to define a sentence. Luckily I found an existing definition, “A sentence begins with a non-whitespace and ends with a period, exclamation point or a question mark (or end of string).“19 However, as a designer, I don’t have to focus on the feasibility or robustness of current software. Instead, what I have to highlight is how to make my project communicative and intriguing. Therefore, I started to get rid of the idea of making the software flawless, which would take too much time and for very little improved design value. Alternatively, I would try to 18 Paper.js 19 Regular expression match a sentence [closed]


make a semi-automatic tool to help me analyse the data, which still has the same capability to visualise the real data on one web page with the help of human eyes and mind.


Fig. 31 An example of normal web page


Fig. 32 An example of sentence analysis tool overlay

Fig. 33 An example of link analysis tool overlay


Experiment #5

Catalogue of Disinformation of Fukushima

Objective In the catalogue I tried to show how serious the issue of disinformation of Fukushima is, also common misleading images of Fukushima. Plus, I attempt to find a more visual way to debunk the disinformation, or at least, bring up the question of ‘what is real?‘ Hypothesis The first attempt to translate my concept into design Conclusion 1. The digital version is uploaded to ISSUU20. 2. I found two different approaches to debunk. To debunk the weird fruit, I tried to underline the fact that mutation is a normal part of nature by showing many instances of mutated fruits. For the part of fraud or mistitled nuclear fallout map, I tried to collect different titles describing the same image. 3. Just showing the issue of disinformation is not enough in terms of a one-year design project.

20 Catalogue of Disinformation of Fukushima


Fig. 34 The cover of ‘Catalogue of Disinformation of Fukushima’


Fig. 35 A sample spread of Disinformation of Fukushima’



Fig. 36 A sample spread of Disinformation of Fukushima’



Fig. 37 A sample spread of Disinformation of Fukushima’



Fig. 38 A sample spread of Disinformation of Fukushima’



Experiment #6

Nutrition Facts of a Web Page

Objective When I think back my first experience of being mislead by disinformation, I found that the influence of disinformation might occur subconsciously. Hence, I would like to design a system to reveal the ‘nutrition facts‘ of a web page in order to help the user be aware of what is going to read on the web page. Hypothesis By creating enough filtering and criteria, I will be able to suggest if a web page is healthy enough. Conclusion 1. After getting rid of the idea of making my software 100% automatic, I feel much more easy to come up different ideas. 2. The visualisation should be easy to compare and fits my design theme. 3. When I try to apply the idea of nutrition facts into web page, more questions are brought up, like what is the equivalent concept of calories and suggested daily consumption for information?


Fig. 39 Comparing nutrition facts of different websites.


Fig. 40 The testing webpage


Fig. 41 Showing the visual areas of different functions


Fig. 42 Revealing the pattern of the length of sentences


Fig. 43 Extracting the longest and shortest sentence of a webpage


Fig. 44 Matching images on web page and common misleading images


Fig. 45 Showing the ratio of self link and links in one web page



Conclusion & Design Proposal Conclusion This thesis is meant to offer enough ‘material‘ for my design proposal. The ‘material’ covers the following items: The personal story why I am intrigued by the issue of misleading information of Fukushima (see “Introduction” on page 11), the research methods have involved (see “Research Methods” on page 19), the way I tried to define my topic and make it more specific (see “My Definition of Disinformation” on page 31), the investigation and prototypes I have tried, which could be treated as my preparation for the translation from concept to design (see “Experiments” on page 51). Plus, if you are curious about my personal struggle in the process of research process, few pieces of personal reflection are included in the appendix (see “Appendix A. Personal Reflection” on page 109). Design Proposal My aim of design is to bring up the issue that we may not be aware of the misleading information we have consumed, which might influence our attitude towards all kinds of social issue, e.g. shall we continue the use of nuclear power. Hence, I would like to propose the idea of revealing the ‘nutrition facts‘ of each web page.


Based on ‘nutrition facts‘, Internet users could have clues about the quality of content before reading the web page in terms of credibility, openness, popularity, money related information and academic language. Some of these criteria could be evaluated by algorithm, e.g. for popularity, the algorithm could calculate how many articles with the same title is indexed by Google Search. However, some of the criteria must have ‘human editors’ involved. For example, one of the criteria in credibility is the number of ‘common misleading images‘, which is totally based on the knowledge of disinformation debunking websites, e.g. Snopes. com or That is to say, the database of ‘common misleading image‘ is dynamic and always updated by the editors (and Internet users could even choose editors they trust). To certain degree, The case of ‘common misleading images‘ in ‘nutrition facts‘ plays the similar role as ‘virus pattern‘ in anti-virus software. Therefore, I may argue that the most important contribution of ‘nutrition facts‘ is to gather all kinds of web page related information (either algorithm based or editor based) to help Internet users decide to read one web page or not. In terms of exhibition, a video and a catalogue would be produced. The video summarise my personal story about why I choose this topic and briefly introduce the process of dissecting a web page for gathering necessary data for ‘nutrition facts‘. The catalogue will be a collection of ‘nutrition facts‘ of 100 web pages


in the form of printing or website, which reveals the pattern of nutritious or toxic content web site. Finally, I hope this project could bring up more discussions about how people consume information nowadays and more design projects about ‘redesigning browsing experience’. Therefore, we could really benefit from the bright side of Internet, instead of suffering from being mislead.



Bibilography Books UnSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation, 2007 Brooks Jackson Social Psychology, 2010 Catherine A. Sanderson The Information, 2012 James Gleick The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary edition, 2006 Richard Dawkins

TED Talks Dangerous Memes, Dan Dennett Debate: Does the world need nuclear energy?, Stewart Brand and Mark Z. Jacobson Memes and Temes, Susan Blackmore

Web Pages 4chan, Wikipedia

105 BADGER Event Copy of the disclaimer of ARS Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Electricity production from solar and wind in Germany in 2013 electricity-production-from-solar-and-wind-in-germany-in-2013.pdf Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War: The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation Germany: Nuclear power plants to close by 2022 Image:Taipei night view from Xiangshan.jpg Misinformation, Wikipedia More nuclear power flowing through Danish outlets Nuclear Energy in Denmark


Nuclear Fallout Map Nuclear Fallout Map, chan4chan Nuclear MythBusters (核能流言終結者) Nuclear share figures, 2002-2012   THE SITUATION IN JAPAN (UPDATED 1/25/13), Tsunami Wave Height Model Shows Pacific-Wide Impact Why a Nuclear Reactor Cannot Explode like an Atom Bomb pdfFalse Wikipedia:Neutral point of view Wikipedia:Notability



Appendix A. Personal Reflection Although I think the development of myself is also crucial, to make the main topic clear, I put my personal reflection in the end of the thesis. In this section, I would like to talk about the development of myself. Apart from the development of project, I also use this process to question myself: Who am I? What is my mission as an information designer? What is my design philosophy? How to find the balance among myself, my project, and my clients (in this case, my mentors)? How to listen to my project? In a nutshell, I spend few weeks to get rid of the nightmare what I should do by introducing more open attitude towards my design process, and started to learn how to listen to my heart. In the end, I think I have found what kind of information designer I could be today. Yet, I think this answer only fits current me. I think the answer will evolve when I participate more design projects.


Who Am I? 22. Nov. 2013 I just can’t stop analysing things around should even at the time I should go to bed. So I extended my thought a little bit. I was a programmer. I am a designer. I will be a _____________. _ I think I am rational, good at logical thinking, able to communicate with computers. I feel more comfortable when I could keep certain distance from crowd. Due to reasons above, I think the trend of Big Data just like a present to me, a designer eager to observe human behaviour without too many interviews involved. In prior to making the decision of using Big Data, I spent some time to convince myself Big Data is just another form of medium for designers, just like ink, paper, plastic, wood, metal, or ceramics. The message I would like to communicate might be more important than the medium, although I understand that the medium itself also influences the message to certain extent. Another thing I would like to include in the graduation project is to present my final design as interactive installation. The first reason is that I think the best way to communicate with viewers is by providing physical, tangible experience, especially in the information age, people might have been overwhelmed by all sorts of virtual experience already. Furthermore, the interactive nature might make the experience more engaging. Although I am better at crafting high tech stuff (Processing, Arduino), sometimes I found low


tech or no tech interaction is even more intriguing.


“Should” 20. Jan. 2014 Actually I shared this story in Chinese on Facebook and got some interesting feedback, so I think it might be interesting to include it in my thesis. “You are just doing what you think you should do, not what you like to do.” On the way home, this feedback was constantly looping in my head. At the moment I heard this feedback, I also heard a sound from deep inside of my heart, “Ah?! Again?” My second thought was an urge to ask, “Then, what do you think the authentic me should be?” But I could not. If I did so, then whatever I do afterwards will just look like a mimicking or worship of I should. When I was cooking my delicious Asian dinner like usual, I found out that I have gathered a rich collection of similar feedbacks since September 2011. For example: “This world doesn’t need another designer like ______________.” “Be yourself, not the one you think.” “I can’t see you in your design.” “Stay close to yourself, then you will be unique.” I started to wonder what have happened to me. Why can’t I get rid of I should easily? Or is it just another case of “normal in Asia, strange in Europe”? More than an instinct, I would like to blame on the solid influence of Confucianism in my hometown. In my point of view, Confucianism just like a dictionary defines all kinds of rules of daily life relationship, that is, all kinds of should. For example, “The emperor should behave like an emperor”, and


of course the definition of “how to behave like an emperor” could be found in Confucianism. So, I started to wonder, maybe I was just doing my best to find “how should a designer behave” in the beginning of my study. Then what I was trying to find evolve into a more personal form, “how should a 30-year-old Asian designer with computer science background behave.” Maybe this could explain the origin of I should a bit.


“Should” -2 21. Jan. 2014 I just can’t stop analysing things around should even at the time I should go to bed. So I extended my thought a little bit. I started to wonder when have I started to have this kind of thought like “how a 30-year-old Asian designer with computer science background should behave”, by which, I think I am just trying to create a perfect version of me. Perfect me is a combination of virtues which I agree with, e.g. working hard elegantly, never complain, making beautiful things, proposing brilliant ideas. I assume that I have created perfect me since I was a kid, at the first time I was forced to do something I really resist. Whenever I felt being distorted, I think of perfect me. Since perfect me is strong and don’t complain. He is always able to find a smart solution towards any difficult solution. It’s a shame that I have never seen perfect me’s face, because he is always on the way to the next goal. All I can do is chasing by his trace, which is usually presented in the form of text, staying on my never finished TODO list. On the other hand, I also appreciate the existence of perfect me. He encouraged me to try something I am not in favour of, e.g. massive coding. (Is this a sort of “Stockholm syndrome”?) Now I feel like the creation of perfect me might be a process of dehumanisation, which may not be a good thing for design. Because the audience of design is normal human beings, not perfect ones. In addition, keeping chasing perfect me may not be healthy to my research process. I need more time for all sorts of possibility (including crazy ideas and stupid ideas) to grow, to connect with something else.


Anyway, at this moment, I think I felt the existence of the authentic me, who is very enjoying the process of questioning myself. Now I hope I could have less should, but more “what if”, “I am happy to ...”, “I am fascinated by …” in the following design process. p.s. I am still not sure how to deal with perfect me. The first proposal is to put him aside, or even in a specimen jar. The second proposal is to rethink the relationship between us. Maybe I could invite him to give me some advice when I am happy to. Or, I could admit that I am an individual who needs perfect me by my side to make me feel comfortable. Is this possible to redefine perfect me? Maybe at certain moment I will be able to inference that real perfect me just equals to me. “


“Should” -3 25 Jan. 2014 It’s quite funny that should still stay in my mind during this week, which I don’t think it should. In the final piece of should, I would like to write down my comment about the dangerousness of should in the design process. Well, what is design process? I would say design process is the process of leading designer to a good design, which is quite personal based on different designer’s characteristics. However, I may also argue that designer process would evolve. A design process was effective for a designer yesterday doesn’t mean it will be effective tomorrow. It is due to the reason that changing makes me excitedly.

I think one of the key component of a successful design process might be openness, e.g. constantly asking ‘what if?’. And should is more like a tool to jump to conclusion. Every time I used a should, I killed some possibilities, from which I will never know how it will grow or evolve.

This is why I started to consider using should more carefully. On the other hand, I still believe in certain context should could be used in a positive way, like, in my design decisions. For example, If I want to get constructive feedback from mentors, I should make the presentation communicative, which might involve only highlighting important points, structuring the way I present, removing noises.


Not only a Programmer 27 Jan. 2014 I understand that it is quite easy to make a connection with computer science degree and programming skills, just like the public might imagine every designer makes beautiful drawing. And programming is also a shortcut to show what i could make, although it is just a very small part of computer science education. In fact, in my computer science education, programming is just a tool in order to verify our design of algorithm, which means, divide a complex job into small steps which could be executed and understood by the stupid but fast machine, computer. In addition, I also be trained how to think logically and understand how the information age happened, which could play important roles in my design career. I don’t like the situation that I must use programming. On the other hand, I also don’t like the case that I must not use programming. I will use it according to the correct context. For example, it is good to use programming to make persuading prototypes, or to make some interactive ideas happen. On the other hand, I may argue that it is a terrible idea to imagine that I can finish a job normally required by one designer and one programmer. I prefer to create some different value.


”What do you want to do?” 02 Feb. 2014 “What do you want to do?” Arthur asked me this in today’s meeting, after reading my previous personal reflections and pointing out which part of my thesis he felt like I was faking someone else. I didn’t remember whether I answered him directly, but I still asking myself the same question after going home. And sometimes I felt I am really into analysing myself. I don’t know how it works in Netherlands. But in Taiwan, discussion like “What do you want to do?” only seem to happen in elementary school. It might be the only chance that an individual is allowed to dream big or crazy. As individual grows up, the influence of Confucianism grows ── “Stop thinking about what you want to do, just find a job and behave well.” This was how I felt about the social atmosphere. Suddenly, I become an adult, worked for 3 years as a software engineer, tired of my office life in the big company. When I was planning for some change, I think majority of my colleagues have the desire to question me, “Why aren’t you satisfied?” “Why can’t you just accept the reality as us?” Of course they didn’t speak out their question, because questioning someone directly is not polite in the culture of Confucianism. Thanks, Confucius. Beside this, sometimes I also appreciate Confucius, mainly because this philosophy usually suggests people to treat others good (regardless personal feeling). That is also why I am able to borrow study loan from my parents. In a way I think that’s how my parents think what have to behave. Thanks, Confucius


Back to the question, “what do I want to do” …


�Listen to Your Project� 03 Mar. 2014 Although I heard about this advice constantly, I can only understand how to listen to my project until I realise the distinction between my project and myself. Before this, the only experience I have occurred is that my project become crazy when I only follow my heart, because I tend to be too ambitious in one single project. Out of focus is not a good strategy of developing a project. Just like every designer has his/ her personality, every project has its own characteristic. When the project was like a newborn baby, all it can do is crying for all kinds of input from the designer. However, as it grows, it has a clearer attitude towards the outside world, like the message it wants to tell the target audience. At that point, designer should try to communicate with the project, instead of forcing the project to become something I expected in the beginning of the project. After trying to treat my project as an individual, every time I presented my project to my mentors, I felt like I bring my kid to talk with his school teacher.


As an Information Designer 03 Mar. 2014 Sometimes I can feel the duty of being an information designer. I am speaking like this not only I agree that we are living in an information overloading age, but also as a digital native, I feel that I have the responsibility to make the Internet as free, clean, amazing, beautiful as possible. Due to information overload again, it the first time in history people can access too much data in public, but don’t know how to use. This is also something I think information designers could benefit from. Due to information overload, I always expect something more than an concept, or raising an awareness. Therefore, I think developing tools (especially filtering tools) might be more interesting. This might also relate to my practical part of programmer.





Information design master thesis