What is a researcher to do, then, when most social science experiments actually aren’t social (since they study individuals), and to actually do social experiments requires continual real-time interaction between large numbers of participants? Meteor is at the forefront of a new generation of web technologies aimed at tidying up the mess describe above, and can simplify building social experiments significantly. As of now (June 2016) it is the most popular web framework on Github, with an active community and extensive documentation, and therefore great staying power.
Meteor has many useful features, but the following are primarily useful for researchers using web apps to study social behavior.
- Easy development and fast prototyping. Meteor is a one-stop shop for setting up development for a web app, pulling in dependencies automatically. It runs a local server that updates in real-time as you code. This is very useful for testing new research ideas and designs before committing to a running things at large scale.
- Real-time data synchronization. Meteor has powerful primitives for synchronizing data across multiple clients, making social, collaborative apps almost as easy to build as single-user apps. This makes studying social interactions much easier.
- Fast and easy deployment. Deploying a Meteor app to a public server is as easy as one command. Getting an app accessible to the general public is often a lot of work for those unfamiliar with devops, and ease of deployment means you can get on with your research.
- Active and growing community of developers. Meteor is one of the top 10 frameworks on GitHub, and is built on the widely popular NodeJS. Building an app with TurkServer leverages these communities as much as possible. Thus, you can find answers to many common issues on sites like StackOverflow and Meteor’s forums.
Find out more about Meteor: