Washington, DC
Hometown: Washington D.C.

Member since:

December 3, 2012

What data do you collect or what data are you interested in collecting?

a paper I'm working on: Many new and emerging democracies are caught in a capability trap where politicians receive support from voters and from international institutions despite a remarkable ineffectiveness to delivery basic public services such as health care, education and water. This trap is perpetuated through a technique called isomorphic mimetry, where emphasis is placed on the form (what the institution looks like) rather than the function (the actual performance). Social Mechanism Design and Relationship Imaging (Social fMRI), part of the emerging field of pervasive and mobile computing, provides unprecedented amounts of data about the behavior of individuals and communities through the use of mobile phone censors, and may provide insight into how institutions escape capability traps. This article begins to explore how Social fMRI, combined with traditional survey data, can help explain variation in performance of health and education facilities in Africa.


Joshua Goldstein (@african_minute) is a PhD candidate at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, where he studies technology and governance and internet policy in Africa. He is a consultant with the World Bank Group, and lives in DC & Nairobi.

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