Thursday, 22 February 2007

The Drill Vs. The Hole: Research vs. Insights Part Deux

Love when examples come so closely after I have a posting about something. I wrote about research departments needing to focus on insights and the whys the other day and here is a perfect example. Don Tapscott. Mark Evans had a post yesterday post talking about Don's 3.5 million dollar research project on Young People and The Web. Mark paraphrases Don's talk which had this research result:

"[young people] don’t see the Web as a great technology as much as a tool to be used - much like we never saw the remote control was nothing more complicated than a tool to change channels."

You gotta wonder how the research was crafted to come out with that completely sophomoric insight. Here's my guess:

do you see the Web as:
a. technology
b. network
c. portal
d. tool to do things

Personally, I would take someone who could be insightful based on a multitude of various research studies any day of the week.

Case and point, Chris Garrett . On Mark's blog he wrote what I thought was a very insightful comment (including the part where he agreed with me ;-)

"from the younger people I have contact with I have to conclude they don’t see technology as the rest of us older folk do. It’s transparent, every day, mundane, and non-compartmentalized. We think “I will get my phone and SMS so-and-so”, they are just doing what they do. They only notice the technology when it’s not there for some reason.

We see the drill, they see the hole in the wall"

update: Mike Dover from New Paradigm Research has clarified Don's research in the comments


Mike Dover said...

“Full disclosure: I am the Vice President, Syndicated Research for New Paradigm, Don’s Company.

I think Don was misunderstood during the Verge conference. The fact that young people (the Net Generation) “see holes, not a drill” was the point he was making. Don has been studying this group for more than a long time (his first book on the subject, Growing Up Digital was published in 1998) and realized early that to this group, technology is like the air.

The most recent project was a combination of quant and qual primary research – the questions were crafted to provide valuable insights. We’re continuing the research this year and expanding it to ten more countries.

I think your “Pot of Gold” post was very insightful. I’ve done research for Fortune 500 firms for a long time and get no satisfaction if my work ends up sitting on a shelf or becomes dormant in a corporate library.”

Mark said...

Don Tapscott's prior works have typically been done from a positivist and utlitarian frame, and nothing suggests that the coming work will be any different. The "holes not the drill" metaphor is indeed naive and sophomoric, with all due respect. What should properly be investigated is neither the drill nor the holes, but what effect those holes will have. And, of course, it all depends on whether the holes are placed in the hull of a boat, into a concrete wall, or in the partition between the boys' and girls' shower houses (ahhh... summer camp...). In other words, the societal and cultural contexts are important to understand, something that has been traditionally lacking from Tapscott and crew. Growing Up Digital missed the point entirely, in my view, because Tapscott's researchers look at the figure, not the ground.

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