Digividuals -webinar about research bots

I sat in on a rather early webinar today which Chief Juicer John Kearon was running at 7am from his home in Cambridge. The topic Digividuals – research robots which Brainjuicer are now touting as a brand new research methodology.  In Cloud 2 they were a central topic of our discussion. Called Demographic Replicators their creator David Bausola a member of the Cloud of Knowing group was beginning a collaboration with John Kearon another member of the group. And the result has been digividuals. A year on there are a string of casestudies and well known brand names who have experimented with them.

I'm not going to explain what digividuals are. John does it much better than I can. What emerges from the webinar is that Braimjuicer has managed to navigate away from the dangerous shoals of stalking people and stealing their data. Because the Digividuals collect internet content from all over they don't track individuals. What is collected is loosely representative but at this point John really treats the data as stimulus for researchers to then develop hypothetical products and then generate insights from these. In short it doesn't matter if the digividuals reflect actual people or not and on balance it is better than they don't.

One of the most interesting claims John makes is that Digividuals could replace research groups as a surer way of generating insights. So the battle is on! 

The other really interesting idea that came from the webinar was the idea that once you have your digividuals up and running you can subject them to all sorts of indignities like Christmas shopping or losing their job. So the creative potential is considerable. You can log onto the webinar here. There's a film which aggregates the content collected by one of the first digividuals a designer type called Nicole who lives in Hammersmith. She even has her own route to work – trackable on Googlemaps. She even has an Ebay account of her own. And Nicole is a research bot made up of a few lines of code. There's also another film of David Bausola and Will Goodhand who want to Casro Tech in New York last June to launch Digividuals there. When Digividuals got the Jay Chiat 2010 Gold for research innovation in October 2010 here's the summary page with more films and links.

Digividuals can be seen all sorts of interesting ways. They are a landgrab from quant into qual. It will be interesting to see how many clients switch qual budgets across to this. Or if attracts money from entrely different budgets altogether.

Lots more goodies on Cloud of Knowing website. The project is live – and the content is available to all. We're getting ideas together for our next meeting Cloud 5. What do you think we should be discussing next?

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