“Between 2008 and 2010, his team accrued enough footage to begin a comparison with the P.P.S. films — together the two collections totaled more than 38 hours. “Films were sampled at 15-second intervals for a total of 9,173 observation periods,” he writes in his article, which reads like a study in scholarly masochism. Hampton and a team of 11 graduate and undergraduate students from Penn spent a total of 2,000 hours looking at the films, coding the individuals they observed for four characteristics: sex, group size, “loitering” and phone use.

“It turns out that people like hanging out in public more than they used to, and those who most like hanging out are people using their phones. On the steps of the Met, “loiterers” — those present in at least two consecutive film samples, inhabiting the same area for 15 seconds or more — constituted 7 percent of the total (that is to say, the other 93 percent were just passing through). That was a 57 percent increase from 30 years earlier. And those using mobile phones there were five times as likely to “loiter” as other people.

“…this was Hampton’s most surprising finding: Today there are just a lot more women in public, proportional to men.”

Really neat idea to compare the past with current/present assumptions of societal behavior as compared to our perception of the past!

Some women don’t like going out alone, whether it’s because of the perception that they don’t have friends or other forms of companionship or otherwise, so perhaps having a smart phone on allows those sensitive to public judgement, whether perceived or real, to have a layer of protection by being busy using their smart phones.

Article here.

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