Gadget Count 2009
October 4, 2009
The Edhat In House Statistician (IHS) wishes that Ed paid more attention to experimental design than simply going out and counting things. To Ed, the act of counting is performance art, where the dedicated staff of edhat.com interacts with the physical environment to create an interpretation of the real world. Ed believes that tally counters transfer what they see into numbers on a spreadsheet just like painters transfer what they see into a visual on a canvas.
But, much to the IHS's lament, sometimes the science of data collection gets lost in the pursuit of art. We're sure you can all relate.
The conflict between art and science can be seen in Edhat's almost annual SBCC gadget count that took place this week. The dedicated staff, dressed in matching t-shirts and funny hats, visited the SBCC campus to artistically count the number of students walking through campus who were plugged in electronically - listening to music, on the phone, or texting.
In the past, we had done a similar thing. This time, we found 16% of students with earphones in their ears, 5% of students on the phone, and 6% of students, head down staring at the cell phone, either texting or doing something similar. The chart below puts these numbers in historical context.
As you can see, music listening was up, dropped, and now is up again. A sharp drop was seen in phone calls. And it appears that in the past no one was ever texting or looking down at his or her phone. Now, here is where the IHS stepped in. Was what is now called texting called something else before? Does it matter that last time we surveyed in November, and this year we surveyed in late September? And what about time of day? Changing demographics at SBCC?
And the big one - did we wear funny hats before?
Of course all this puts a big wet towel damper on our findings. But we can definitely give a big maybe to the idea that kids these days are replacing phone calls with text messages, and they are listening to more music --- as much as in the hey day of iPods.
One last observation about the music - it seemed that most of the kids we saw with ear pieces were favoring the one in, one out look (with the big dangling white cord showing prominently). Maybe the additional music we counted is more, just a part of a bigger trend toward multimedia multi-tasking.
Guesses in the weekly contest as to the number of students with electronic equipment were generally high. Nic7320, one of the lowest of the highs, was the closest guesser (10% phone, 15% music). Nic wins an Edhat t-shirt, pickupable at Santa Barbara Arts in La Arcada.
# # # #