When People, not Computers, Sort SMS Data

Posted by CorinneRamey on Sep 17, 2009

Currently, most SMS surveys have questions that ask people to respond to a menu of multiple choice answers.  But Textonic, an open-source tool that helps sort open-ended text responses, seeks to change that.

"I think it's potentially a major shift in terms of the way we do social research," said Thomas Robertson, one of the lead developers on the project.

Textonic, which has yet to be actually used, was developed as part of a graduate class taught by Clay Shirky in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. The tool is a way of connecting RapidSMS, the data collection platform used by UNICEF, with Amazon Mechanical Turk.