There is a very interesting video on the Brainjuicer website (brainjuicer.com) shot at the last ESOMAR conference. It features a variety of well known figures in the global MR business commenting on the future of MR. One of the leading proponents of semiotics states “We’re hearing an awful lot of data fetishism again…”
I am proud of having a data fetish.
I also believe there are symbols, deeper meanings, engaging stories, myths yet to be told, decoded and reproduced. I have a lasting regret that I never got to attend any of the courses the late Ginny Valentine offered. She was a pioneer in semiotic techniques as well as being lovely person and she had a truly innovative intellect.
I also believe there should be theories of human behaviour within MR with falsifiable predictions and validations. I believe without data and analytics of some form we simply weave tale after tale out of control. Scorning data, by labeling people as having a data fetish, is a perilous thing for MR. If we believe that a few priests of symbols and semiotics have the key to understanding the human condition we just condemned our business to ruin and obscurity. Narrative obsessions are no better than data fetishes.
The problem is scalability.
MR needs analytical approaches, of any genre, that can be applied by the thousands of MR professionals across the world. So far it seems that semiotics hasn’t been able to scale that way. There are respected practitioners that are able to apply the tenets of semiotics effectively, but we don’t seem to have enough of them. There seems to be a problem in training researchers in the principles of semiotics. If something can’t be used widely it will remain a niche. The fact is data fetishists do have a set of approaches that can be scaled and learned across many thousands of users.
But this is the season of goodwill to all. Let us put aside ideologies, no more talk of data fetishism or narrative obsessions. We should work together. I have long thought there must be some way of applying the tenets of semiotics via software, for instance in the semiotic analysis of web sites. So I am calling for a joining of forces of software with semiotics to develop Computer Aided Semiotic Analysis (CASA). I would love there to be wider application of semiotic techniques, maybe this is the way ? I think it could be a great tool for MR.
Mi casa es su casa. We should all dwell in the same place.