I finally (finally) got around to joining twitter. More to figure out how it works and what it can do than anything else. I'm really interested in the potential for web and sms based services like twitter to capture 'real time' data from people in relation to their behaviour, feelings, attitudes, intentions, location etc etc.
My own business sector - market research - has only begun to think through the implications of web 2.0 tools for what we do: which is mostly capturing information from people and turning it into statistical insight. The 'capturing information' part has always been the killer: most of the industry in Ireland (and to a lesser extent the UK) uses the same methodology invented by George Gallup back in the 1930s. Namely:
- we print the questions on paper to create questionnaires
- we send the questionnaires to interviewers around the country
- they get people (the sample) to answer the questions
- the interviewers send back the completed questionnaires
- these are then entered into a data file for analysis
- tables are produced summarising the results.
It's still the best (only) way to ensure statistically representative results for, say, a sample of the total population. But the times they are a-changing: and when nearly 9 in 10 adults have mobile phones (and rising) then it won't be long before mobile (and ultimately web) surveys are as robust as face-to-face surveys. By "won't be long" I'm thinking 5-10 years tops ...
And the likes of twitter will get us there sooner rather than later.