Here are title and short abstract of our Closing Keynote by Simon Pulman-Jones, GfK, UK, on the trend to “big data” capture, analysis and processing – a thought-provoking talk.
Digital panopticon and a new demos: inspirations for a European EPIC?
Early advocates for the use of ethnography by business had to campaign hard against companies’ reluctance to engage with an in-context, consumer-centred perspective on their products and services. Thanks in large part to the efforts of practitioners from within the EPIC community, and to other closely related consumer-centricity constituencies, many global corporations increasingly got the message during the past decade, and have striven to make consumer-centricity a driving principle. In many ways this has been a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’. Corporate consumer insights and marketing functions now seek to capture, penetrate and influence any and all dimensions of consumer experience, both through the industrial-scale application of ethnographic research and increasingly through direct engagement with consumers via online research and community platforms. Rapid advances in the capture and analysis of digital behavioural data promise to bring a further step-change in the penetration of consumers’ lives by corporations.
The conditions for the EPIC project have shifted considerably over the past decade. Is there now an opportunity for a distinctively European contribution to the EPIC project? Can European traditions related to the demos (the people) and civic society inform new perspectives on the digital relationships between people and corporations?