John recently wrote an interesting post about (good) planners being invisible.
It is a similar story for researchers. After all, aren’t planners glorified researchers? (Well, to some extent, it depends on the type of research but, generally, no.)
John suspects this inherent invisibility, coupled with a desire for recognition, is the motivation behind the many blogs and conferences. It does seem to be a particularly vibrant environment, and from it I’m even able to know the picture I’ve chosen for this post is doubly relevant.
Sadly, this is where the similarities with research end. There are notable exceptions (and I REALLY need to update my blogroll to reflect this), but vibrancy is not a word I would associate with the researchersphere, if such a thing existed. Which it doesn’t.
So why are so few researchers blogging, and even fewer researchers engaging in stimulating discussions? And why is it that research conferences are almost without fail dull and repetitive?
I suspect it may be due to the following reasons:
- Both planning and research are a combination of ideas and execution. In planning, the former tends to be the most important but in research it is usually the latter. Ideas are harder to replicate (and get away with) than processes, so planners are more willing to share, while researchers are more protective
- Planning will at worst cover a campaign, and at best the entire product/service direction. Research tends to be project based. It has a definite start, middle and end. There is little chance for serendipity or reaction, and less opportunity to note and act upon interesting opportunities
- The fruits of a planner’s labour are visible for all to see. Most research is initially designed for an internal audience, who then cherrypick the story they want to tell for an external audience. This inherent, proprietary, knowledge gets locked up and never seen nor spoken of
- There are far fewer planners than researchers (I assume, I actually have no idea on numbers), and it is a harder profession to get into. Therefore average ability and motivation is higher, fostering a vibrant environment
There are probably many more reasons, but those are just from the top of my head.
Can this be changed? In the widest research sense, probably not. But there are pockets of innovation, some truly excellent researchers and massive differences in the nature and scope of project work. So there is some hope.
On January 1st, I said I wanted to read less things, but better. I ended up switching to a more time-consuming job, so just ended up reading less. This blog also became noticeably quieter since I switched jobs, and my link updates stopped.
This coming year, I want to move more from passive to active. There may not be a researchersphere, but I want to do my part in fostering thought and debate among my readers (thank you for persevering with me) and those I read.
Jeremiah Owyang says he likes to pay himself first – he does that through his blog concentrating his thought processes and the recognition he receives for it. I’m not very good at getting up before 8am (or noon on weekends), so I’m going to try to end the week by paying myself.
That will involve more time spent not only reading but also thinking, writing and talking about things. Some things directly related to research (though these thoughts may go on the Essential blog, which currently features our 2009 Christmas awards), and other things related to media, technology and marketing. And I’m also going to try to resuscitate a truncated link update.
I wish you all a prosperous 2010
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chaoticgood01/3786273684/