Permeable Data Sources: Better Health Via Facebook OpenGraph

I have to do a presentation at a conference in about a month. It is the Digital Health Conference Extravaganza ( I just revamped the abstract for my talk. Here it is below. Let’s think about talking about this in class.

Permeable Data Sources: Better Health Via Facebook OpenGraph
Scott A. Shamp, Ph.D.
New Media Institute
University of Georgia

What you do impacts how healthy you are – and vice versa. Understanding an individual’s behavior can suggest ways to be and stay healthier. The intricate interplay between behavior and health blesses and bedevils us. If we understand peoples’ behaviors, we can make salient suggestions. But how can we learn what people are doing? Monitoring is difficult and expensive. Self-reporting is impoverished and often lacks validity. We need a way to measure behavior that provides voluminous data that is authentic. We also need an easy and secure method to use this data.

The explosive growth of social media presents exciting opportunities for health promotion. And new developments in this area offer novel mechanisms for helping people make better health behavior decisions. In April of 2010, Facebook announced the OpenGraph protocol. OpenGraph allows the development of Facebook programs called “apps” which can, with permission of the user, analyze and react to users’ Facebook data. Through OpenGraph, Facebook is now a “permeable data source” for individuals’ behaviors. Permeable data sources allow individuals to contribute data into a centralized repository and then determine who can access that data and for what purposes. Now the ability to easily write Facebook OpenGraph apps provides unprecedented opportunity to use actual behaviors in formulating healthy suggestions and promoting healthy decisions.

Can we develop systems that access the unique information found in these social media permeable data sources? And can we do it in a secure and responsible manner?


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