Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Join the club















Wasn't it Groucho Marx who said something like, 'I wouldn't want to join any club that would have me as a member'?

I for one, despite being a member of the AQR, have never been a fan of associations. Partly because none have specifically had my interests (as a ethnographic researcher) at heart. Which is why I formed my own LinkedIn group - Ethnosnacker - to address and debate what I believe to be true and good and effective ethnographic research. And I'm proud to say we have now 1200 members and counting. Not bad for what is still considered a niche discipline. By the way, I'm talking real ethnography - not in-depth-interviews with a video camera and a couple of hours filming inside people's cupboards. Patronising? Yes I am.

As most of you reading this post will know, EverydayLives created an ethnographic research app which, following expressions of interest in buying it out, we spawned into a new company called EthOS. Up to that point in 2010, I had a rather arrogant policy of not attending conferences unless I was speaking at them. Qual360 in 2010 in Berlin was no different. Jasper Lim asked me to speak and because it was in Berlin, a city I had heard so much about yet never visited, I decided to spend the full two days there. Only my plan was to sneak off to explore the city on day two. But I so enjoyed meeting like minded people joining in the workshop discussions that in the end I never left our venue to explore Berlin.

At long last, I had found a bunch of people who were engaged, interested and, heck, passionate about the same things as me: Mobile, qualitative, ethnography, analysis & interpretation, methods, respondent experience, comparisons with other methods and so on and so forth.

One of those passionate people was Mark Michelson, now a dear friend, who I got on with like a house on fire. We met again and MRMW in Atlanta last summer where we discussed and debated matters mobile.

The next time we met was when he called me at home, just outside Brussels, to ask me to join him for dinner in Amsterdam, a couple of hours drive away. So I dropped everything - work, wife and kids included - to go on a five hour round trip drive to join my methodological soul mate for some great Indonesian food.

"I'm forming an association and I want you on the board!"

"What kind of association?"

"An association that will push the mobile research agenda."

"And my role?" (he didn't have one - I have yet to come up with it).

I do, however, know the role that Mark's association, the MMRA - Mobile Marketing Research Association -  will play:  It will function as an action-based organisation, flexible and sensitive to changing technologies and industry needs. Because let's face, the dust that mobile research has kicked up is far from settling. I often describe our own platform as a ship we are building as we are sailing. So flexibility is key. No one really know how things will turn out.

It will also be the only association to involve people from the entire mobile insights value chain. Ranging from guys like me to Consumer facing companies, marketing agencies, marketing research agencies, technology companies, respondents (or non-consent respondents) and media organisations.

The good news is that it's taking members right now. And any one who is any body or wishes to become somebody in the mobile world must join us to help shape, for example and among many other things, the ethical environment we operate in as an industry.

Unlike Mr Marx, this is one club I must to be admitted to if I want to have a voice in how my industry develops. Here is where to go and join. Right now.




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