…And today we think we’re
pretty sophisticated in our
But we’re heading in to the
A place that could make 2.0 look as
high tech as the fax machine.
A place dubbed
In its essence,
semantic web is made
up of two dimensions.
It leverages the wealth
of data available online,
with the increasingly
power of computers.
We are generating more and more
data online, at an outstanding rate.
We upload data, we blog, we share,
we connect, we co-create, we upload
some more we Google, we wiki, we
meet people, we upload “more than
13 hours of footage to You Tube
every minute.” (3)
We have reached a point where
the World Wide Web now
“contains at least
At the moment, we can only do
simple tasks on the web, like
order a pizza, check the
weather in Paris and book a
We search for keywords
and we get pages that
contain those words,
some of which are
Computers are increasing their semantic ability. Meaning
they will be able to gather and structure information in a
more intelligent way.
With semantic web computers won’t
just blindly retrieve information, they
will understand more of the meaning
behind web pages, so they will
“perform more of the tedious work
involved in finding, sharing and
combining information on the web.”
Which for research could mean we no longer
need to ask questions, because the answers
are already out there.
Has the research
missed the boat?
There’s some players in the market
who are embracing this already, and
they’re people you probably wouldn’t
think of as researchers. Whilst their
plans for 3.0 aren’t only about
research, they’ve already started
working in our industry.
IBM say they regularly use the data on the World Wide Web for
market research and branding projects for their corporate
IBM have used the data mining
“system to do market research for
television networks in the popularity
of shows by mining a popular online
community site.” (8)
What’s more impressive, is their use of the “system to mine the buzz on
college websites to predict songs that would hit the top of the pop
charts in the next two weeks. A capability more impressive than today’s
market research predictions.” (9)
There’s a range of technology
companies that are developing
software for this new era.
Interestingly, some of the early
research in this area was originally
commissioned by intelligence and
military agencies. (10)
And it makes sense, after all they
are the masters of collecting,
observing, collating information and
making important decisions based on
It would require a 180 degree shift
in thinking and change the entire
way we go about our work.
We wouldn't need to ask
behavioural questions, they’d
already be out there. We wouldn’t
need to ask people what they think
of our brand, they would have
discussed it already.
We would need to
shift our perception
of what’s available
online. Seeing it as a
robust, credible and
logical dataset, and
then use the
semantic ability of
search engines to
delve in to it.
A focus on citizen
insights’ would mean a
huge change in our
There would be no more focus
on trying to enhance them
with sweeteners like cash
incentives, points and games.
There would be no
So it could mean our
incentive costs drop
right down to a big
What will the so called respondents think when they
find out their personal comments are being used for
Is it really
ethnography? Or have
we crossed the line
from observation to
Some argue that if the internet
becomes open source, then we’re
just using information that’s
publicly available. And don’t
bloggers want their voice heard?
Isn’t that the whole point?
If this is where we’re heading
as an industry, there’s some
serious ethical guidelines we
need to consider.
Not only would semantic
web change how we work,
but also the skills we
would need to stay ahead
in the industry.
It could affect the way we approach
training, the way we recruit, the kind of
people that end up in market research
It could mean an
1. 2 Radar Networks & Nova Spivack, 2007. Semantics of Social
Connections. Retrieved 1 August 2009 from
3. 5. 6 Wikipedia. You Tube. Retrieved 2 August 2009 from
4. Wikipedia. Semantic Web. Retrieved 2 August 2009 from
18.104.22.168 Markoff, John. (2006, Nov 12). Entrepreneurs See a Web Guided
by Common Sense. The New York Times. Retrieved 2 July from
Erica van Lieven
Linked in: au.linkedin.com/in/ericavanlieven/