Quantilative Online Consumer Anthropology?

It’s only science fiction until it’s reality…which is not so far off!

In my obsessive quest to find new ways to apply anthropological methodologies to consumer and brand research, i think the explosive evolution that the intersection of data from social media, online communities, mobile-device enabled research and online custom research can create is nothing short of astounding.

Virtual spaces have allowed humans to interact in entirely new environments and transfer culture in many new and interesting ways. It has created new boundaries of space and pushed the accelerate button on factors like time and language translation.

They have allowed for creation and dissemination of universal communication codes and symbols.  New and expanding sets of norms, values and rituals.

Collecting and quantifying data from social media dialogues can allow us to identify unique cultural trends and patterns of idea dissemination.  Engaging consumers in real-time using mobile devices for both dialogue and image capture can help us understand consumer engagement rituals and collect visual artifacts as data points at lightning speed and in quantities enough to find statistical relevance.

Possibilities like these, i believe, are endless.  Beyond that, what happens when we compare “real” and “virtual” world insights gleaned from quantitative and qualitative methodologies?  Lets include the diversity in traditional, semiotic and ethnographic approaches as well.

I get very excited thinking about it.  And lately i have been getting SUPER excited applying it with a team of researchers, brand strategists, developers and visionaries that are going to pave the way for this next genesis of brand-centric insights and strategy.

Anyone else getting all tingly?

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3 responses to “Quantilative Online Consumer Anthropology?

  1. I am excited by the possibilities, but it will take a real expert to navigate through the data mine field to find those kernels of information that will be relevant for a consistent brand message. I think too much data will result in marketers over processing.

  2. Hi, I agree with this approach to methodology entirely. Personally I have been extending this approach with music and software research thru what might be called urban ethno musicology. This approach combines software development as research ( SoDaR) methodology (http://www.ijea.org/v8n6/) plus using ethno musicology which examines both the musical artifact and the social interaction. We use Transana as software for organising and comparing multiple digital artifacts and analyse the data using what we call a meaningful engagement matrices. If you are Interested in this there are articles on the savetoDISC.net/ site. Regards Steve:-)

  3. Thought I’d duplicate this comment here, though I added it over at Ethnosnacker as well.

    I think the approach of John Kearon and Mark Earls in their discussion of Me-to-We research offers some key insights into the topic. Though there does seem a logical contradiction in their assertions about the relationship between what they call “mass anthropology” and the competence required of observers in their model.

    http://herd.typepad.com/files/brainjuicer-paper—me-to-we-research.pdf

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