MIT researcher Deb Roy wanted to understand how his infant son learned language -- so he wired up his house with video cameras to catch every moment (with exceptions) of his son's life, then parsed 90,000 hours of home video to watch "gaaaa" slowly turn into "water." This astonishing, data-rich research has deep implications for how we learn.
Roy and his colleagues at Bluefin Labs (http://bluefinlabs.com) probe the social dynamics around certain TV shows by examining comments culled from social media sources. This is one example of “scraping” web sites for various kinds of data. While Bluefin’s case may seem benign, scraping does suggest certain legal and ethical issues. Examples include:
BBC: FBI plans social network map alert mash-up application (1/26/12) (government) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16738209
Taylor Wessing: Battling the robots—scraping personal information (2/2011) (health care) http://www.taylorwessing.com/download/article_scraping.html
Bloomberg Law: New age technology: Brazilian and U.S. courts “scraping” the legal boundaries of Internet use (11/09/11) (corporate competitors) http://ellblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/joint_norris_opice_schiffman_article.pdf
How is scraping different from hacking? Can you think of other reasons why an individual or organization would want to scrape information from the Internet? Imagine that a popular TV drama develops an episode that presents the scenario you have in mind; write a summary of that episode.
Roy’s research suggests certain things about how conversations with caregivers influence a baby’s early utterances. What about babies whose caregivers speak multiple languages? Learn more about bilingual language acquisition. Some good sources include:
TED: Patricia Kuhl: The linguistic genius of babies http://www.ted.com/talks/patricia_kuhl_the_linguistic_genius_of_babies.html
The New York Times: Hearing bilingual: How babies sort out language (10/10/2011) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/11/health/views/11klass.html
Colorín Colorado: Bilingual language acquisition (2006) http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/12916/
See if you can identify someone in your school or community who grew up hearing and speaking two or more languages at home. Interview this person—and if possible, his or her parents--to learn more about the experience. What were the benefits and challenges? What advice would they have for others with two or more languages in their household?
Bluefin Labs http://bluefinlabs.com/