talk-sensing-FEATURE

Do women talk more than men? A new study used tiny technology to investigate.

Tinier, cheaper, more capable electronics make it possible to sense , record and measure more and more kinds of things. Some sensors are built into conspicuous, please-notice-what-I’m-doing frames — Google Glass is the current great example of that. But tiny sensors can easily be placed where people won’t notice them.

Researchers at Harvard, MIT, and Northeastern had people each wear tiny sensors. (In this case, each of the people involved knew full well that the sensors were there.)

The study is:  “Using sociometers to quantify social interaction patterns,” Jukka-Pekka Onnela, Benjamin N. Waber, Alex Pentland, Sebastian Schnorf and David Lazer, Scientific Reports, vol. 4, no. 5604, epub July 15, 2014. The authors explain:

The development of ever smaller sensors makes it possible to study group-level human behaviour in naturalistic settings outside research laboratories…. Here, we find that in the collaborative context, women were much more likely to be physically proximate to other women and were also significantly more talkative than men, especially in small groups.

The study, when it gets down to detail, uses lots of good, scholarly lingo:

talk-sensing-chart

All of this — especially the question of how anyone can so easily gather info about ordinary folks doing ordinary things — may be worth, uh, talking about.

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