Snapping photos to share with friends on social networks is pretty fun, but we don’t usually think of our shots being involved in professional social science experiments. Apparently though, we’re all just little guinea pigs on the spinning wheel of life, since networks like Twitter are already being utilized by scientists to analyze human behavior from city to city.
Specifically, they’re looking at the relationship that people share with the places they choose to visit. Next on the agenda: the photo-sharing mega-giant, Instagram.
The super popular image sharing app generates hundreds of millions of users every single day, so it’s a wealth of information for those interested in identifying certain trends in social activity. Researchers will aim to study the locations that are exclusive to members of the same group, as well as those that encounter visits from different social groups.
Of course, the likes, follows, and comments, will also be taken into account, as they contain additional details to aid in providing an overall picture of social activity, including any segregation that might exist, social hierarchy, subcultures, and general presence or absence of social groups in certain locations. They will then adopt the use of graphs to map these social divisions and interactions, and arrive at their conclusion.
Apparently the concept of using social networks to study these movements is simpler than traditional methods of research, so you can take pride in holding up your phone to take that quick selfie—knowing that your data could be collected and used for this very useful purpose!
Science, you never disappoint.