Maybe it’s not Big Brother we should be worrying about; maybe it’s the little friend in your pocket.
A five year study out today finds “the gadgets we carry day-to-day can accurately record the nuances of our relationships. Using cellphones for social science research could replace interviews, which are laborious and sometimes unreliable, to find out about people’s lives.”
“There are very serious privacy issues,” says Gueorgi Kossinets, who researched online social networks at Cornell University.
Or maybe there’s a public benefit to the data your cellphone reveals about you and the people you know. Here, for example, is what happened the night the Red Sox won the first of their two (tainted) World Series championships in recent years:
“Suddenly all our subjects became unpredictable; they all flooded into downtown Boston to a rally in the centre of the city.
“City planners approached us because they wanted to know how people were using urban infrastructure, to know when the people left the rally, how many walked across the bridge and how many took the subway, how many biked or took the bus.
“We can give them some real insight with the idea of helping them build a better city that reflects people’s actual behaviour.”