Research Mafia Redefine Research conference we came, we saw, we joined in and a good time was had by all! I'll just give a swift overview. Time was when you had to be a national institution to run a conference. Well Research Mafia are changing all that. They got over 100 delegates to descend on Leeds last Thursday – and several came from considerably further afield than Leeds (or the South East for that matter)  – the age of the pop up conference is well and truly upon us.

The venue was the Alea casino which set me my first problem of the day. Vodaphone wouldn't tell me where it wason googlemaps because my under 18 controls were set. Later when we got there I couldn't use the casino wifi because once again it would appear Vodaphone had blocked it.. ahh the perils of being part of the underworld. The Research Mafia is founded by Alison White of Face Facts. The Research Mafia name is about to disappear because someone has copyrighted the use of the word Mafia and is threatening to sue if they don't. I hope the real Mafia come along and sort out this nonsense. Its loony.

Meanwhile the last Research Mafia event got under way. We heard first an enthusiastic introduction by Hil Gib to NLP – though not a lot of research application I have to say. Followed by Tom Ewing of Brainjuicer talking about behavioural economics and how it can be applied to research practice – good to have some practical examples – often conspiciously absent from these presentations. We can't go on requoting Don Arielly..  Jon Priest gave one of the best turns of the day plugging ethnomethodology and the learnings of disruption as an alternative to the amount of ethnography being done. He claism you don't learn much by filming not a lot going on. So go and stir things up a bit. Put it all back together again and work out what the underlying rules are. Still not a lot of examples. In the breakout sessions that followed there were 4 choices. I went with Alan Bowman and brand storytelling a subject I know quite a lot about having used it as a workshopping technique and also as a research methodology.

A hasty lunch and I found myself pitched with Neil McPhee against Betty Adamou and Rosie Goodrick as the oldsters versus the youngsters compered by Ray (call me neutral) Poynter in a gold sequinned jacket. It was a lot of fun – the questions were serious but we managed to camp up the answers. I thought the youngsters would hammer us but in the event we lost by only a point. Even surviving a question about whether 50 somethings who earned 3 times as much as 20 somethings were worth 3 times as much or not.. We live in dangerous times:-). I missed some of the rest of the even because my wifi travails inside the casino meant that I had to park myself in a pizza express to get a signal and get a research project under way. But I caught the end of John Williamson's Qualvu session which seems to have upset the purists. You don't find the truth just by filming it (or transcribing the film either). A splendid way to end the day with a stand up row. So we moved onto a meal and the drinking started – with gambling tables and funny money for those who couldn't resist.   I made a lot of friends – it was a great event.

Betty and alisonAt about 1 am before a few of us survivors started to look for our respective hotels I collaraed Betty Adamou, queen of gamification.  Have you ever  designed a survey so addictive that respondents couldn't stop taking it? She didn't hesitate – "3 weeks ago. I know its the same kids because they keep giving the same birthdate when they register. I haven't liked to talk about it because I assumed that someone will disapprove and say it breaks a code or something." Lovely end to the evening – someone has written research so compelling that the respondents can't leave it alone – and she doesn't want to talk about it. Research redefined – that's what it was. Look out for the next one. And don't you dare miss it..

The photo is of Betty on the left and Alison on the right clutching their awards – both being winners a in March of the Badge of Courage at the first awards of that name.



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