The Habitele Project is funded by the ANR, in the category “innovating societies”. The project is led by the Centre d’Etudes Européennes, Sciences Po (Paris), with Dominique Boullier as project leader. It is conducted in partnership with Telecom Paris Tech (Artur Hecker’s team) and 9 teams or researchers around the world.
The project aims to test a theoretical framework labelled “Habitele” by Dominique Boullier. This neologism seeks to account for the anthropological transformation we are experiencing, as two thirds of human beings have become equipped with a mobile phone (5.2 billion subscriptions, i.e. approximately 4.5 billion individual users, as of December 2010). The “connected being” status changes our mood, owing to an alert state of mind; our everyday interactions in everyday life, based on awareness more than physical presence; and our coordination skills, because of traceability. But it also offers the opportunity to switch between social worlds we are affiliated to.
We inhabit a new “personal data ecosystem”, which we call “Habitele”. Habitele is used to label the various distant connections with various social worlds, which we are able to handle by carrying devices (phone, credit cards, IDs, keys, and access cards) and creating traces (social networks and other online activities) that keep us in touch with these worlds. The mobile phone is now rapidly merging all these affiliations, traces, and accesses into one device, which is carried close to the body.
IDs in the cloud and permanent physical access are what make the mobile phone a universal terminal (and not the PC): our digital identities become wearable, as a new envelope. This general framework will be assessed through a carefully designed empirical investigation: in-depth interviews (500 x 2), 45 case studies of typical use, data collection of personal behaviour (through automated extraction from the device), and mapping of connected social worlds. The international comparison is an important ambition of the project, and it will involve France, UK, USA, Canada, Brazil, Tunisia, Nigeria, India, and Korea.
Outline of the research activities to be conducted by IFRA-Nigeria
1. Transcripts from in-depth, face-to-face interviews. IFRA-Nigeria will interview 50 persons of various socio-demographical backgrounds for at least one hour each , repeated twice in a period of 3 months. IFRA-Nigeria is in charge of recruiting these persons, obtaining their legal agreement for the use of their personal data, and transcribing the interviews. The interview (two phases) will be conducted in an environment that ensures adequate quality for sound recording. The original recordings will be delivered to Sciences Po in digital format, as well as the transcripts. The interviews will follow the guidelines provided by Sciences Po. The Sciences Po team is in charge of discussing and testing these interview protocols in order to guarantee the relevance of the questions to the local environment.
2. Collection of quantitative data IFRA-Nigeria will collect quantitative data from logs retrieved from the mobile phones of the 50 people interviewed. This collection of data will be performed following a specific protocol that will be tested and validated, scientifically as well as technically, by Sciences Po. Extraction of data will be achieved through the use of Oxygen Forensic Suite 2012. Sciences Po will analyse these data and send a report which will serve as a basis for the second interview with each participant.
3. Case studies IFRA-Nigeria will document 5 specific local case studies on mobile phone or online personal data uses. These case studies will be proposed by IFRA-Nigeria and agreed upon by Sciences Po prior to their realization. Each of these studies will be presented as short essays, between 5 and 10 pages long, and all the associated relevant data will be provided. What is looked for is originality in the cases, without any concern for sampling.
4. National report on mobile environment IFRA-Nigeria will provide Sciences Po with the basic figures and features, specific to the country, for the uses of mobile phones and with data on issues concerning privacy—(numbers of subscriptions and prepaid sales, diffusion of terminals, ARPU for each telco, market shares, changes in recent years, legal specificities concerning privacy, etc.). These data must be collected from the sources available and do not require any new investigation or computation. The collection of the data will include charts, diagrams, and any other material that could be useful to interpret the interviews correctly.
5. Habitele Workshop To promote scientific cooperation, 2 members of the IFRA-Nigeria research team will attend a 2-day workshop in Paris, planned for Spring 2013.