Sociometric Badges: A New Tool for I.S. Research

60 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2011  

Benjamin N. Waber

MIT - Media Laboratory

Sinan Aral

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Daniel Olguin Olguin

MIT - Media Laboratory

Lynn Wu

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Erik Brynjolfsson

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Alex Pentland

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Date Written: March 17, 2011

Abstract

Researchers have recently been able to understand organizations at an unprecedented level of detail using new digital records and electronic communication data. However, while digital communication is important in the modern workplace, face-to-face interaction still represents a large and important share of organizational communication, information exchange, socialization and informal coordination. Unfortunately, few techniques exist to collect face-to-face communication data at the same level of granularity as electronic communication. In this essay, we introduce and discuss a new set of research tools and methodologies collectively known as Sociometric Badges – wearable sensing devices designed to collect data on face-to-face communication and interaction in real time. To highlight opportunities and challenges for IS research, we discuss a) the design and function of the technology, b) potential opportunities for IS and management research, c) key trade-offs, challenges and research design choices, and d) important limitations of the tools and techniques. We believe this set of technologies, which will soon be publicly available for research purposes at low cost, could portend a dramatic improvement in our understanding of human behavior at unprecedented levels of granularity and therefore enable IS researchers to explore new research questions and more accurately address existing lines of research.

Suggested Citation

Waber, Benjamin N. and Aral, Sinan and Olguin Olguin, Daniel and Wu, Lynn and Brynjolfsson, Erik and Pentland, Alex, Sociometric Badges: A New Tool for I.S. Research (March 17, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1789103 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1789103

Benjamin N. Waber

MIT - Media Laboratory ( email )

20 Ames St.
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States
617-253-4662 (Phone)
617-253-6285 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.media.mit.edu/~bwaber

Sinan Aral (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

100 Main Street
E62-416
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Daniel Olguin Olguin

MIT - Media Laboratory ( email )

20 Ames St.
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Lynn Wu

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3733 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6374
United States

Erik Brynjolfsson

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

E53-313
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-4319 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://digital.mit.edu/erik

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Alex Pentland

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

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