Writing a paper for the MRS conference..

I scraped the written paper for the Market Research Society conference into the deadline date of Feb 1st by mebbe 30 seconds. Writing a paper is a strange business. I had 6000 words as what I needed to write and that is where it turned out.  It was a quicker process than when I wrote the paper back in 2004 but then I was herding cats – there were 4 of us – an ethnographer, a semiotician, and literary critc/ theorist to be accomodated alongside the researcher. The maximum length of the paper is 10,000 words and I remember vicious hacking sessions to get it down to size.

This time around it was all together faster becuase I had to do all the writing. But writing a paper needs to be a communal activity. Thanks to all who read drafts, gave me strange looks over webcams and politely suggested changes in direction to route around incomprehensibility. My theme is that of the incorporation of content analytics into formal market research.  The quantity of the first is growing so much further than the output of the second that we have an intrinsically unstable situation. The first chance there is to analyse online content to deliver comparable decision support to that delivered by market research at the moment and there is going to some heart searching clientside about how much money to spend doing ad hoc research. When you can go and search for a representative sample using a google like engine and look up whatever they have said.  The danger of writing a) for the future and b) being iconoclastic is that to be blunt you start to believe your own rhetoric.  Research isn't going to disappear over night any more than the 30 second TV commercial. But what I have come to understand by writing the paper is that research is essentially a manual process. Requiring great investment of executive time. Which pays the bills. There is no reason why research needs to go being manual. Or to think that clients can't get the tools to do a lot of his without having to building teams of researchers. In summary I think that research agencies are in grave danger of being disintermediated to use that grisly expression.  

So if I'm playing Cassandra I need to work out whether to go for histrionics on the basis that I'm not going to be believed anyway. Halfway measures in a sober tone – so I just come across as Eyore.  Or a functional statement of the case in which case I shall be politely misunderstood and asked to use less technical jargon next time. What's a Cassandra to do? I didn't have time in the paper to say much about remedial action.  Which I fear is consultancy. If the disintermediation comes about we will still have research agencies. We just won't have agencies with sheds full of bushytailed doers. 

What do you do if you love painting for a living and some beggar invents the camera? Eh Eh?

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