Recently I have been introduced to a project which uses social media as a tool for gathering data for research purposes.  The name of this project is Sound Around You, as this project relies on the general public to send in their recorded sounds. 

The projects aim was to collect as many recordings as possible this was done by people downloading the software to their phones and then using the software to record sounds so that they could rate them.  By doing this, does cause a slight problem as the target audience is slightly diminished as not all mobile phones have downloading capability and also some people do not own a mobile phone.  The way in which this project has been done is very clever because the people who do own a mobile phone normally have it about their persons for most of the day if not all of it!  The recorded data was sent off to the site along with the answers to the short questionaire.

Through social media this projects awareness has risen significantly as it can be found on most if not all of the big social networking sites like facebook and twitter, also specialist sites such as Amazee became involved with this project so that the projects social identity grew in order to become top of the search pile for example in google.

The use of mobile phones for this project was a very clever idea as it attracted a large taget audience.  Originally the project was just meant for the UK however due to the projects excellent social identity it ended up being a global project, this just goes to show how much of a powerful tool social media can be if used in the correct way.

As this project became global this then helped with the data collection because of the sheer amount of data submitted can help fight against any errors in some of the recordings as there was no control over the recording process and the answers subitted on the questionnaire.

One of the key factors with using social media is the fact that you need to keep the conversation going because if you don’t people will lose interest so it is imperitive that the sites are kept updated so that the participants and even people who are just looking at the sites feel involved with the whole process.

Using social media as tool to collect data for scientific research does go against the grain from traditional scientific research.  As in traditional scientific research foucs groups, interviews and questionnaires are predominately used.  By using social media we are able to crossover the old school fundamental approach to the new approach which uses aspects of social science and psycology, mabe somewhere in the not to distant future we will be able to find some middle ground where both sides embrace the old and the new.

To conclude social media can be very useful as a research tool as long as it is used in the correct way, however there can be several issues to do with privacy, but if people are frequently updating their facebook profile whith what they have been doing or what they are up to then why should this project be any different.

The question is how comforable are you with letting the world know what you are upto, or what you have done??

I bet you dont think about that when changing your status on facebook.  Just a guess.