Interesting phenomenon emerging in the last few days: a spontaneous anti-nudge herd.
First, over at the RSA there have been a number of criticalblogposts (the latest of which makes the very good point that all the crowing about "nudging" is likely to undermine it's impact on real people)
Secondly, the arch humanists at Spiked have been having a repeated go at the illiberality of it all - and the condescending attitudes it reveals towards our "feckless" fellow citizens.
Very curious moment just now in the penultimate over of the day in the final Ashes test in Sydney (did I mention there was some cricket in Sydney?) - a moment which all sports fans and players will recognise. Here's how the Guardian OBO described it...
"66th over: Australia 208-7 (Smith 19, Siddle 17) Siddle edges Anderson's last delivery just over the slip cordon for four. That was hilarious: they all leapt in unison, even those who were nowhere near it. Even the crowd all jumped up instinctively"
Nice piece today by Martin Baillie on a subject that has repeatedly drawn my fire over the last decade or more (I was once called "The Enemy Within" or some such by Research Magazine): the future (or otherwise) for Market Research (and in particular the need to move from set-piece to real-time insight gathering - to "bake-in" continual learning to how we go to market).
While I have great fondness for the industry and its practitioners, it has always struck me as more anchored in the past than the future; feeling more comfortable with past assumptions and practices rather than any unfolding dynamic picture - I think that's what Martin is getting at too.
Equally important are the musings of Ray Poynter (the man behind the NewMR online conference in December). His latest thoughts point to the increasing importance of doing stuff with data (analytics) as opposed to collecting data (trad research):
"I have felt for a long time that the days of asking people what they have done, for example in tracking studies, are numbered. I refer to this aspect of research as bean counting and expect that in the foreseeable future this information will be collected from a combination of loyalty card, credit card, smartphone, CCTV, geo-tagging, RFIDs, and the sorts of wearable devices being designed for exposome research (collectively I think of these as part of the electronic wake, the trail we leave behind us). These changes will be another nail in the coffin of the days of surveys (I have previously blogged that in the future there will be far fewer surveys"
Regular readers will know that I'm a big admirer of my intermittent collaborator John Kearon and his attempts to innovate MR out of its current practices with Predictive Markets, Digividuals [a colloboration with the great Bausola @zeroinfluencer] and all kinds of We-research but if you're thinking about Market Research and its future,just step back 10 years and read this seminal piece by the late, great (and round here anyway) much missed Ginny Valentine Download Repositioning Research
(Sorry, didn't have time to big up Wendy, John or Tom but they also have a firm grasp on what's happening next!)
Change is a comin'....that's for sure but not before time...
....though each of this can help us understand aspects of influence.
So what is it?
Influence is what makes the difference between an idea or behaviour being adopted (or not) amongst those around us and those around them (and so on).
Influence is often much easier to see after the fact and harder to predict ahead of time than we imagine - as Duncan and others have repeatedly pointed out - so we shouldn't imagine that because something does or doesn't seem to be a driver of others' behaviour that it would do so if we re-played the tapes).
Influence is not fixed for most modern human life but fluid - not least because most human life now consists not of repeated interactions with the same few poorly connected individuals (beyond our little closed tribe) but rather of this plus fleeting indirect connections to millions of others and their groups and their connections. Not to mention the fact that most choices over which we permit other folk to have an influence are between equally good, fundamentally indistinguishable options (certainly compared to the few life-or-death decisions subsistence tribes face).