Speculation and bluff for linguistic field research - social software and media for data gathering
Linguistic field research relies on gathering data on how people express themselves. Traditionally, this is done by sending scientists to interview speakers and to report on these interviews by filling forms. This is a very slow and excessively expensive process which, furthermore, is often biased. Indeed, researchers' questions and reports are influenced by their -conscious as well as unconsciouspreconceptions. Crowdsourcing on the Web is a promising alternative to traditional linguistic field research. This article describes Agora, a market-like social software conceived for Web-based linguistic field research. Agora is the operating system of two distinct social media, Borsa Parole and Poker Parole, both designed to gather qualitative as well as quantitative data on Italian dialects and vernaculars. A specificity of Agora is that it can be deployed both for games and non-game social media. Arguably, Agora can be used for further applications beyond linguistic field research. Its possible application in art history is discussed.
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