Built before smart phones, AskMobi was a web- and text message system that supported social science inquiry. This project that I developed in graduate school had two components: a cellphone component for designing and answering surveys and a web-based component for analyzing and presenting data. The system supported young people in generating hypotheses, writing surveys, analyzing data, and presenting in a public for critique. AskMobi allowed young learners to think like social scientists: to come up with interesting research questions, develop methodologies for answering the questions, and be skeptical about data and its presentation.
AskMobi was a server-side software application that received and dispatched text messages to mobile phones using SMS (texting) over e-mail. Open source technologies were used to create the system including Apache, MySQL, PHP and Sendmail. Users would first create an account online or by phone, linked their contacts and then emailed or SMSed contacts survey questions. The server sent the surveys to either users’ friends, their friends + friends of friends, or everyone. Once other people answered the questions, the survey creator received the answers on their phone and could explore the data on the web.