The Future of Advertising (and perhaps educational) Research?

GoPro Anthro

Secording: Secretly recording someone or something.

Advertising research suffers from the Heisenberg effect: the process of observing something actually changes the thing you are observing? Gone.

We bring subjects (they are no longer consumers) into a lab, wire them up, and then tell them to act naturally as we show them pictures of iPhones, Coke cans and political brands. What do we expect?

anyone seeking the truth wants is to get as close to the anthro-pological reality as possible, that is, simply observing people in the process of being themselves. They want the *Candid Camera approach. Now imagine a GoPro camera so discrete that neither you nor others notice you are wearing it. This is coming, and some would say is already here.

As you go about your business, everything is recorded, relayed wirelessly to the research office, where it is visually parsed and presented in terms like: Spent over a minute in the coffee section before buying Columbia Supreme. Now that’s data a consumer research company could use. It also further embeds all of us in a surveillance society, in which we never really know who is recording whom. Secording, I call it.

In this case, we call it GoPro Anthro.

Is the future of consumer research the same as the future of learning research? Imagine students wearing the same GoPro headset, living their learning experience, showing real time where they succeed and where they stumble. Does that make you think “finally individualized learning like never before, with remediation so customized that students can’t help but reach their fullest potential!” Or does it make you say “ewww” as you see the ghost of George Orwell rise up behind your screen.

That is, are we willing to live with a little of bit of stumbling in order to be less embedded in the surveillance society? Or are we just so afraid of stumbling that we are willing to be surveiled?


Photo of dog wearing GoPro: By Richard Masoner, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0), retrieved from, on June 29, 2015

CANDID CAMERA was a TV program back in the day that used hidden video camers to observe people in the act of being themselves. It was hilarious, sometimes embarrassing and painful, but always enlightening and anthropologically sound.

The photo of man wired: THUGLAS has released this image to the public domain.

(subTechst- vitamins for the mind)

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