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The Circles of Connections

  • Soltani-Panah, Arezou
  • De Cotta, Tracy
  • Farmer, Jane
  • Aryani, Amir
Publication Date
Nov 05, 2018
The Journal of Community Informatics
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In modernity, there is a growing obsession with tracking various aspects of an individual’s life, that is the ‘quantified self’. The latest trends in technology have made it much easier to track many elements of life such as heart rate, weight loss, fitness activity, and sleep patterns. The list can be extended by collecting data on others as well (such as a baby or pet), leading to the notion of the ‘quantified other’. This new wave in quantified self/other data has an impact on social and behavioural science research as well, moving the field away from a focus on survey studies towards more complex data-driven approaches. However, feasible ways of measuring the more intangible aspects of life such as connectedness, feelings, and resilience are rarely on offer in the self-quantified market. To address this, in partnership with Red Cross Australia, we have developed a social visualisation tool that helps people to assess their social connections, and understand how these connections contribute to aspects of social capital such as participation, support, feelings of safety and trust. We believe having such a tool to self-quantify an individual’s social connections offers the potential for better public health outcomes. The greater impact can be made at a community level to understand and facilitate social connections of diverse communities and raise awareness about their needs. Enriching such information with other spatial or sociodemographic data can help organisations like the Red Cross for provision of targeted supports particularly around areas of disaster management and engaging marginalised or vulnerable populations, and thus to build more resilient communities.

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