On Wednesday, February 21, 2018, Andrea Rosales will offer a presentation at the first session of this year’s seminar cycle #FemRecerca, titled “On the implications of measurement through automated registration systems“. The title of Andrea’s presentation is “Exploring the limits of logs in the study of human behavior“, wherein she will provide reflections and ideas on the use of (smartphone) logs as well as share experiences on the limitations that this method of data collection entails for research projects.
Abstract: The growing popularity of digital technologies and the possibility of accessing the records (or logs) of all its activities has encouraged its use in the field of social research to explain the behavior of users of digital devices. Records are a by-product of digital activity and, very often, it is assumed that these are objective data obtained in a non-intrusive way. They seem to be the best, unquestionably useful data, but, as in other metrics, the records constitute a sociotechnical phenomenon that still present limitations. For example, records often combine user activity and programmed activities, automated or conditioned by the same technology used, so they do not always allow us to describe and explain human activity.
In the context of the Ageing + Communication + Technologies Project (ACT, http://actproject.ca), wherein we have explored the accuracy of logs as a measure or expression of the end user’s activity, our research has focused on a sample of smartphones users to compare the logs gathered with the actual activities that users have developed while using these devices. In this sense, our study raises several challenges and questions common with any social research based on the analysis of logs: Is it really possible that logs are a useful source of information to understand human behavior? What limitations do these types of data have if we also take into account the type of technology used to obtain them? In short, how can the collection and analysis of logs produced by intelligent systems be improved?
Image by Seminaris #FemRecerca.