Some of the most forward thinking companies like IDEO have invested in hiring anthropologists, people who combine an intuitive curiosity with a learned skill for observation and pattern detection. These anthropologists come from all backgrounds, and the really good ones have developed methods and toolboxes for capturing behaviors in the hopes of uncovering the insights they are looking for.
Today, a big part of that toolbox has become the Web, which lowers the bar for curious people who can detect patterns but perhaps haven’t earned their formal degrees in the social sciences or have the experience of recording hours of behavior via A/V equipment. But there is a catch. You have to be willing to investigate, spend time in the virtual communities—you have to participate to some extent and you have to develop your own system for capturing data whether it be tagging via delicious, favoriting links or archiving media.
The big shift is that the new kind of “digital ethnography” I’m describing is there for those willing to do what it takes to uncover those insights. No special degree or professional recording equipment required. I’m fairly certain some company out there is going to tap into this idea of “direct engagement”—live interactions with real breathing people enabled by digital technology. Could be video, text, audio or a combination of all three. But I’m fairly certain that the small percentage of people who are experiencing it through networks such as Twitter are acting as collective canaries in coalmines signaling a desire for more live human connectivity vs. artificial intelligence.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Posted by Jim Gay at 1:46 PM