Uncovering the ‘internet of needs’.

Dissertation* synopsis submitted with Hyper Island, for completion of my 2015 Master’s in Digital Media Management degree:

It’s 2016, and the internet — or ‘web’ — is now an irreversible part of daily life. Its ubiquity, at many levels, presents us with a rich tapestry of story around how we are behaving as a society online. This social web is a latent body of observable actions, pleas, wants and needs, that need to be closely looked at to better enable understanding into many niche potential audiences. This paper serves to highlight the growing problems with the (mostly incumbent) industrial model of formal market research. It assesses the opportunity online for new-product visionaries, managers or startup founders to engage in ‘citizen research’, on the desktop, with largely free tools across the web. It presents not an alternative, but an augmentation of method that can better serve those looking to engage in market research but who are either not able to afford it professionally, or have become dissatisfied with the formulaic outmodes of rigid testing formats, like focus groups.

The context for presenting these methods is a startup concept aimed at new fathers specifically — QuickDaddy. It facilitates both quantitative and qualitative enquiry, in finding out what the latest and largely still unmet needs are, of new dads online — the designated audience for QuickDaddy. This is achieved by looking only at Web 2.0 platforms and places — what is known today as the social web — where new dads are enaging in unguarded, honest, sometimes anonymous, and largely two-way conversation. Some of these platforms are social networks as we understand them; some are direct question and answer forums; and some are places where online users are presenting their likes and dislikes as product reviews, thereby unwittingly becoming research subjects, and fair game for assessment.

Overall, the aim is to embrace our ‘other’ lives online, and demonstrate a usefulness baked into the fabric of community conversation online. The investigation here is useful for those wanting to seek out the nuances of selected stakeholder groups in market, and for whom needing to get a better sense of what specific audiences are responding to, talking about and sharing, is an imperative.

With many startup business failing within their first eighteen months, one has to ask, is there a smarter, quicker, and more affordable way to design products and services that are relevant, connected, and contextually useful — meeting needs unmet, and delivering real human value.

* (contact me for enquiries into the full text.)

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