I can’t believe I’ve had the iPhone for nearly 2yrs now (I wrote about my excitement it back in 2008), and how much I’ve come to use it so much I forget that I’m using it. Of course I can look that or this up straight away. Of course I can access my email whilst doing my grocery shopping. Of course I can send a tweet with a photo of a weird and wonderful happening. Of course I can access a restaurant’s menu and read patron’s reviews from the car park before deciding where to eat. Of course. And of course I’ve been very lucky to have the opportunity to work with two outstanding groups of ICT333 students on the development of an iPhone app for ethnographic field work. The 2008 team created a project management style app at a time when the iPhone and app development was still very much a novelty and there weren’t too many models around. They called it “Jot It Down,” or “JID,” based on the idea that the ethnographer would be able to jot down notes quickly while in the field and keep them all together with voice recordings, photos and other data collected using the iPhone. The 2009 team then extended the functionality of JID to have it sync with my Omeka database (and they did a lot of work improving its user interface and help system!).
All I can say is… wow. What a great job the two teams have done! At the moment, only the “notes” function in JID syncs (well, not “sync,” it’s a one-way upload) with Omeka, and another team is needed to finish it off so that photos, audio recordings and other data can also be uploaded, but I think that we’re well on the way to having a useful app! The fact that it will also work on the upcoming iPad is exciting as well. I love the idea that an ethnographer can capture and collect data in the field, upload it to “the cloud” (securely), and get feedback from a remote supervisor at point of need. And the data can’t be lost, left on the bus, etc. And! A lot of metadata entry is carried across! Fabulous! No more manually entering the time, date, location and so forth for each individual item.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to use this app myself in the field, but its design is based on my experiences of using other iPhone apps and ICTs whilst undertaking classroom observations. Lets cross our fingers and hope for another team to take up this project, and that it might enter the app store some day soon.