Tangential Thoughts: Data collection with mobile phones and human-tracking systems in scientific research


I call this post Tangential Thoughts, since it focuses on what the research community things about communication technology, which might be interesting to some of you.

I found two articles: One talks about how researchers more and more use mobile phones to collect data. In “Personal technology: Phoning in data” Roberta Kwok explores how “budget-conscious” and “digitally savvy scientists can write and distribute mobile-phone software for everything from monitoring traffic to reporting invasive species”. Maybe this is something for us to keep in mind and exploring?

Another article titled Big Brother has evolved by Jerome E. Dobson mentions human-tracking systems in scientific research. Dobson argues that the “social-networking benefits of human-tracking systems will surely be substantial” and that” the technology is bound to alter all sorts of social relationships”, including the one between researcher and subject. Yet, “investigators need to understand the risks as well as the benefits of new research opportunities”. His conclusion is not at all comforting, though: “We have entered a grand social experiment as momentous as any in our past and yet one so insidious that hardly anyone seems to have noticed”.