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Thread: Doing research in the age of new media (what are the young / tech savvy academics doing different)?

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    Doing research in the age of new media (what are the young / tech savvy academics doing different)?

    I'm about to embark on my dissertation (as mentioned in previous threads) and I'm curious what strategies the more tech savvy / younger researchers are employing, to get results that I might not have considered.

    I have a number of texbooks, but they're all a bit old, so I'm trying to find out what the best methods available are for doing (both quantitative and qualitative research) that these textbooks may have missed. I'm aware of survey monkey as being one way I can develop online surveys to reach a large audience, but what else is there?

    What advances have we made in technology that makes it easier to conduct research in human geography / planning / urbanism that people didn't have say ten years ago.

    Thanks to everyone for your comments on my earlier questions)

    Sacha

  2. #2
    Some are using cell phones and apps to measure travel behavior and physical activity, some are using picture taking to document conditions. I was at great presentation on using google to assess neighborhoods rather than sending people out into the field.

    More complicated, some are using multilevel modeling to look at communities. Others now work integrating quantitative and qualitative methods.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Using the internet. Using email/facebook/twitter to funnel people to an area where you can get their opinion is something that can be done on a scale that was cost prohibitive 20 years ago. The problem with that though is when you start to use technology in this manner you are targeting a specifc sector of the population. Even though almost 4/5 Americans have internet access, not every uses it the same way.

    Additionally, you have people who are extremely tech savvy who may create an app to assist in data collection. The prevalence of tablets and smartphones has made it easy to collect and process data in the field, as well. You can now go to a site, take a picture on your tablet, import it into AutoCAD, Sketchup, ArcGIS, etc and create models in the field. The capabilities are endless. I went through my MCP program 4 years ago and the best we oculd do was bringing the laptop with us, and even that got cumbersome at times.

    Imagine doing traffic counts (movements and all) on an app in real time and being able to analyze that in the field? Productivity through the roof!

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Huck View post
    Imagine doing traffic counts (movements and all) on an app in real time and being able to analyze that in the field? Productivity through the roof!
    Its getting to the point where you don't even need to do that in the field too often. Most of the problem intersections (at least around here) are identified and have cameras doing the counting!

    I would agree with you on the use of the internet. Most people in certain demographics have little interest in exploring the world over the computer. They get to what they want to know, then get out!
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Thanks for all the responses, everyone.

    It appears you are all a fair way ahead of me, as a lot of what you said went over my head.

    Re: Gottaspeakup, can you give me some examples of apps (I’m assuming you’re talking about smartphone apps) that one might use for measuring travel behaviour and physical activity? I’m an iphone user but I can’t even imagine what kind of app would be used for such things, or how. If you have a specific name of an app I could look up, that would be great!

    Re: Huck. Your comment about using social media to reach a wider audience is true. I’m thinking I might be able to do use a combination of social media and field research to get my numbers (putting a bit of extra leg work into getting the older folks to contribute) but asking the same questions throughout.

    Huck, you also talk about apps being used to collect data. I use apps, but I have never used apps to collect data. Can you provide me with some examples of apps that do this?

    Huck, you said “You can now go to a site, take a picture on your tablet, import it into AutoCAD, Sketchup, ArcGIS, etc and create models in the field,” are you describing a situation in which you would do all of this (photo taking, image importing, image using) in the field, and that you would use it in “the field” for communicating with research subjects? What is special about the tablet (opposed to a traditional camera) here? I can’t quite picture what you’re describing.

    If you have time to give a description of this procedure, and what value it would have for someone who is new to this, it would be very welcome.

    This is the whole thing for me; I don’t know what I don’t know, so words I can google to learn more about these different strategies will be very welcome here.

    You said “Imagine doing traffic counts (movements and all) on an app in real time and being able to analyze that in the field? Productivity through the roof!”

    I’m sorry Huck, I can’t imagine this. I try but when I try, I imagine me taping my iphone to a lamp post, with the camera’s video on, and perhaps there is an app that translates the movement in the video image into numbers, and then some 19 year old boy in an addidas tracksuit with bad achne and a bottle of coke in his hand sees my iphone that’s taped to the lamp post, and says to his mate “check it out, someone’s taped their iphone to the lamp post! Score!” and un tapes it and walks off with my phone and sells it to his other mate.

    So if you could explain what you have in mind (if you have time, and assuming you’ve bothered to read my long post) that would be awesome!

    Thanks everyone for all your ideas and suggestions.

    Sach

  6. #6
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I think what Huck is getting at are wireless connections from the traffic counters and having someone reviewing / confirming the turning movements.

    In the old days (and on less travelled roads/intersections of today) traffic counters were beasts with pnuematic (sp) tubes. These could be upgraded to give the observer the information in real time over an i-pad, laptop or similar device. In most places these have to be put out, collected, data extracted from, then analyzed. New technology should be making this process a whole lot easier and the identification of problems a whole lot faster.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Sacha View post
    I'm about to embark on my dissertation (as mentioned in previous threads) and I'm curious what strategies the more tech savvy / younger researchers are employing, to get results that I might not have considered.

    I have a number of texbooks, but they're all a bit old, so I'm trying to find out what the best methods available are for doing (both quantitative and qualitative research) that these textbooks may have missed. I'm aware of survey monkey as being one way I can develop online surveys to reach a large audience, but what else is there?

    What advances have we made in technology that makes it easier to conduct research in human geography / planning / urbanism that people didn't have say ten years ago.

    Thanks to everyone for your comments on my earlier questions)

    Sacha
    Assessing ontested space - either public, private, semi-public using time-lapse on your SmartPhone. Multispectral analysis of plane or satellite flights for numerous reasons. Intersection densities and PedSheds on The Googles. Acquiring data - viz. London - for ped movements, consumer behavior, traffic inquiries. New Age surveys on The Internets for various stated preference surveys. Urban Ecological trends with Google maps. Signage from cameras. A billion analyses via GIS. Architecture preferences from 'search Google images'.

    Just off the top of my head in a commercial break during the Tour de France, which has embraced technology but was affected by a few handfuls of two-hundred-year-old ancient technology yesterday.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Huck View post
    You can now go to a site, take a picture on your tablet, import it into AutoCAD, Sketchup, ArcGIS, etc and create models in the field.
    To elaborate, you can now use a tablet and directly take pictures of the project site and directly download aerial photography to add to files. Up until a few years ago it still required either a digital camera or even a smart phone to take the photos then transfer them to the computer (and yes, notebook computers are reliable but far clunkier than a tablet). GIS has come a long way in terms of online mapping but I don't the processors/graphics cards are powerful enough yet to do full desktop GIS work in the field. At my current job I work in AutoCAD all day and I have seen SOME progress with touch screen work with drawings but it is mostly for markups. Many software programs, especially CAD, are precision-driven, even more so than GIS, and I am very curious how touch screen technology will develop over the next few years to allow for more precision-based drafting in the field.

    I think over the next few years more and more computer programs will be improved to allow real time saving where multiple people can work on the same file at the same time. Microstation already does this to some degree, but I can see it with Adobe Creative Suite, possibly GIS, etc. File sizes for packaged bundles of documents, whether it is a group of GIS files, CAD drawings/xrefs/plotstyles, or placed Adobe files/images, are also exponentially decreasing. You no longer have to send tons of files through an FTP but I see plenty of otherwise large files be small enough to send by email.

    Finally, more and more small communities and hamlets are joining the grid. Online aerial photography for remote areas is clearer, more communities have at least a one-page website that they didn't have a year or two ago, etc.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Sacha View post
    Thanks for all the responses, everyone.

    It appears you are all a fair way ahead of me, as a lot of what you said went over my head.

    Re: Gottaspeakup, can you give me some examples of apps (I’m assuming you’re talking about smartphone apps) that one might use for measuring travel behaviour and physical activity? I’m an iphone user but I can’t even imagine what kind of app would be used for such things, or how. If you have a specific name of an app I could look up, that would be great!

    Re: Huck. Your comment about using social media to reach a wider audience is true. I’m thinking I might be able to do use a combination of social media and field research to get my numbers (putting a bit of extra leg work into getting the older folks to contribute) but asking the same questions throughout.

    Huck, you also talk about apps being used to collect data. I use apps, but I have never used apps to collect data. Can you provide me with some examples of apps that do this?

    Huck, you said “You can now go to a site, take a picture on your tablet, import it into AutoCAD, Sketchup, ArcGIS, etc and create models in the field,” are you describing a situation in which you would do all of this (photo taking, image importing, image using) in the field, and that you would use it in “the field” for communicating with research subjects? What is special about the tablet (opposed to a traditional camera) here? I can’t quite picture what you’re describing.

    If you have time to give a description of this procedure, and what value it would have for someone who is new to this, it would be very welcome.

    This is the whole thing for me; I don’t know what I don’t know, so words I can google to learn more about these different strategies will be very welcome here.

    You said “Imagine doing traffic counts (movements and all) on an app in real time and being able to analyze that in the field? Productivity through the roof!”

    I’m sorry Huck, I can’t imagine this. I try but when I try, I imagine me taping my iphone to a lamp post, with the camera’s video on, and perhaps there is an app that translates the movement in the video image into numbers, and then some 19 year old boy in an addidas tracksuit with bad achne and a bottle of coke in his hand sees my iphone that’s taped to the lamp post, and says to his mate “check it out, someone’s taped their iphone to the lamp post! Score!” and un tapes it and walks off with my phone and sells it to his other mate.

    So if you could explain what you have in mind (if you have time, and assuming you’ve bothered to read my long post) that would be awesome!

    Thanks everyone for all your ideas and suggestions.

    Sach
    http://www.mikeontraffic.com/2010/07...rd-killer.html

    Things like this. Before if you wanted to look at traffic movements you needed to be out there and hand count with an expensive count board. Now, you can do it with an application. You can also you the same device you're getting counts on to compile data and start working on the analysis. As for most problem intersections having cameras, that's true. But what about looking at intersections for warrants to add a light, or stop sign, etc?


    Example:
    You want to look at an intersection to discuss how it fits into a pedestrian master plan. You go to that intersection and start you counts of traffic and movements on your tablet, phone, etc. Then once you have you data, you export it into and Excel Spreadsheet. Run any type of analysis you need. Then take pictures of the intersection. Export all of the collect and analyzed data into a Powerpoint document. Upload the document to Dropbox or some other cloud storage (along with all of the data) and have the members of your team review it and track their changes. Etc, Etc, Etc. This is where we should be headed.


    True, most people who use CAD need to have precision. But what about when you're doing floor layouts? I deal with Space Management in my job a lot and the ability to have a floorplan at my disposal is extremely valuable. I'm sure there are tons of planning applications I haven't even thought of. AutoCAD WS has editing capability, coupled with cloud storage. Add a stylus and you've got a pretty good in the field tool.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    True, most people who use CAD need to have precision. But what about when you're doing floor layouts? I deal with Space Management in my job a lot and the ability to have a floorplan at my disposal is extremely valuable

    Not all software is created equal. I sure hope I never stand on or under a bridge or live in a house that you designed on the fly or bought a piece of land that you directly surveyed and final platted from your tablet. The technology is still pretty far off for that.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    True, most people who use CAD need to have precision. But what about when you're doing floor layouts? I deal with Space Management in my job a lot and the ability to have a floorplan at my disposal is extremely valuable

    Not all software is created equal. I sure hope I never stand on or under a bridge or live in a house that you designed on the fly or bought a piece of land that you directly surveyed and final platted from your tablet. The technology is still pretty far off for that.
    Is that what I said? For tasks that don't require precision, using AutoCAD on a tablet is great. Simple layouts, floorplans, and rudimentary designs. I've seen entire presentations of multimillion dollar projects done in Sketchup. You want to show a client how something might look conceptually, and you've got a short amount of time to convince them? Do you have time to go back to the office and take a day while your team collaborates?

    I had a team come out to pitch doing a simple pedestrian bridge; $3M. They did the entire presentation in Sketchup. We asked at the beginning of the meeting about an alternative and they had a younger architect go out and take pictures and import what our alternatives would look like at a different location. That type of on the fly, in the field capability is invaluable.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Huck View post
    Is that what I said? For tasks that don't require precision, using AutoCAD on a tablet is great. Simple layouts, floorplans, and rudimentary designs. I've seen entire presentations of multimillion dollar projects done in Sketchup. You want to show a client how something might look conceptually, and you've got a short amount of time to convince them? Do you have time to go back to the office and take a day while your team collaborates?

    I had a team come out to pitch doing a simple pedestrian bridge; $3M. They did the entire presentation in Sketchup. We asked at the beginning of the meeting about an alternative and they had a younger architect go out and take pictures and import what our alternatives would look like at a different location. That type of on the fly, in the field capability is invaluable.
    I agree that tablets are great, but the OP is asking about academic ideas, not applied solutions. What sort of questions does the new technology allow one to answer in an academic setting.
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    I agree that tablets are great, but the OP is asking about academic ideas, not applied solutions. What sort of questions does the new technology allow one to answer in an academic setting.
    I know I got slightly off topic, but I think the same types of research you do in a career field is done to some extent in academia. At least it was for me.

    For research applications, I know there are several research apps out there. At least there were a while back. I'd like to see an application where the backend is based on SPSS.

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    Thanks for all your input everyone!

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Huck View post
    I know I got slightly off topic, but I think the same types of research you do in a career field is done to some extent in academia. At least it was for me.

    For research applications, I know there are several research apps out there. At least there were a while back. I'd like to see an application where the backend is based on SPSS.
    True dat! I think the OT has value in the sense that it would be nice if more academics did stuff that was relevant to practitioners. ;o)

    Nevertheless, I think the technology today - including tablets - allows the researcher to have more ideas and methods to answer questions, and likely broadens the scope of questions. And the available computing power makes more things possible as well. Now if we can just get the SPSS'ers to explain to others what the small r^s in econ findings means on the ground in practice.
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