BrainJuicer (where I work) doesn’t have an official blog as such, but it does have this blog, which is essentially a collection of interesting things that get sent around the office, related - sometimes very tangentially - to research. I have already contributed to it quite a lot, but I’m now its official ‘handler’, so I thought I’d mention it here.
If You're Having Google Problems I Feel Bad For You Son
Google’s new research offering – Google Consumer Surveys – is attracting understandable interest from the research community. Lenny provides a forthright overview on Greenbook, and I couldn’t hope to match his big-picture take. But here are seven things I’ve noticed, wondered or thought about the new Google service.
1. TRUST THE NUMBERS: Google is famously puritanical about data and this extends to its research service, which uniquely among DIY offerings doesn’t support open questions. Verbatims begone! This fits with Google’s overall selling point – they’re not just letting you ask questions, they’re taking care of the analysis too, which they couldn’t easily do with opens. Even so it’ll be interesting to see how – or if – Google helps its customers get to the “why”.
Part 2 of a post too long to publish by itself. The full version, edited and linked, will go up on my other site…
A few months ago I read a fascinating qualitative study, done by Ipsos on global high earners and their attitudes to reward. Ipsos published the study at the Autumn peak of the Occupy Wall Street movement, creating an unexpected resonance: here was how the “1%” saw themselves, or at least reported themselves.
What was interesting was how that self-perception seemed to be shifting.
I started writing a blog post about the relationship between data, power and storytelling, and it became obvious it was too long to post as a single thing. So I’m experimenting with posting it as a series: here’s part 1. The whole piece will end up on Freaky Trigger, in semi-edited form.
In the last few months, I’ve been involved in an increasing number of conversations about “behavioural economics”. I work for a company which is developing ways of the learnings of this vogueish, elusive discipline to market research, and so a lot of said conversations are about that. But some of them centre on a slightly different question: why now?
Within research, this question is a particularly sharp one. The idea that if you ask someone a direct question, you won’t always get a correct answer is not new. In fact when I started working in research it was one of the first things drummed into me. Research has blamed a lot of things for this – faulty memory, imprecise questioning, social norms, interviewer effects, and so on. And it’s used an awful lot of tactics to get around this – indirect measurements, qualitative probes, numbingly precise question language. And in a sense, yes, the current bugbear – our innate irrationality – just puts a new costume on the same challenge.
“This technological and intellectual pincer movement is squeezing research. But for anyone keyed into the discussions around research at the moment – and if you’re reading Greenbook, that includes you – none of this is new. The arguments on each side are well-rehearsed and fully aired. We could do a panel explaining all this, but however passionate and witty we were it would still end up as yet more hype talk. What we decided to do with Research Outlaws was create a format which would force participants to roll their sleeves up, make stuff happen and hopefully create some fun in the process.”—
Lenny at Greenbook kindly gave me some space to hype the panel I’m running at the MRS Conference on the 20th March. It will be awesome! (Far more than the photoshop of my SRS BUSINESS MUGSHOT suggests)
As this paragraph hints, its secret ancestor is gloriously boffinish BBC science show of yore THE GREAT EGG RACE, where teams of, essentially, nerds competed to solve a problem by building Heath Robinson style machines.
I was having a chat with someone at work the other day and, as you do, we were talking about the latest Mark Earls book, on how copying works.
He loved the thinking but wasn’t sure it applied to the sector he was interested in - electronic consumer goods. Take Apple, for instance - people buy Apple because Apple deliver a better user experience and are more innovative, rather than because they’re copying each other.
I went to a talk at the Royal Institution last night by Mark Pagel, who studies the intersection of evolution and culture. It was interesting - he was very engaging in a comfortable, donnish way, though a slightly frustrating speaker in terms of not actually answering the questions put to him, and I disagreed with some of his ideas on specialisation, but it was a very worthwhile evening anyway. Here’s a summary of his ideas I did for work, with my own gloss on some of his points following on.