I’ve seen those “Early Adopters” lists before and thought it was interesting as most consumers don’t use those kinds of labels…
It has come in handy on more than a few design and research projects.
The vast resource of buying info that Amazon has access to is amazing. All those people with Amazon Wish Lists, keeping track of buying history, ranking the “desireability” of the proucts you buy and are recommended, etc…
I don’t know what compelled them to “share” this info with the general public. Ideas? Although…I guess it has caused me to buy some things I wasn’t aware that I might have interest in…I think I just answered my own question…
It would be cool to have a “product bot” you could set loose to collect feedback about a particular product or market segment. A dashboard view could present all this stuff in addition to its rank on various indexes like Google, Amazon, eBay listings etc.
Very scary and depressing, how shallow the mental landscapes and acquistive appetites of consumers are. It lays bare the crap people spend their time and money on. So much for the Internet opening new vistas – it would seem simply to channel popular junk to junkees more readily. Is there any hope for the planet?
This is a new use of technology to do reseaarch, and I believe nothing more and nothing less than that. And I must say that professionally, it is an interesting data collection tool worth testing out.
I don’t share the view that this is scary. For years, people have been paid to be flown to Jerry Springer’s studio to reveal their hidden secrets. The web is simply now more readily available to exhibitionists everywhere.
As has been pointed out elsewhere in this forum, the real insights (and value) in doing “design research” is in the interpretation and analysis of data, not necessarily in the collection of it. After all, anyone paid 10 bucks and hour with a camcorder can go out and shoot reams of data - and now for free, search for the contents of fridges online. On the other hand, the ability to “see” opportunities in still pictures, video of people’s mannerisms, movements and expressions are hard won skills.
Whether these skills have been honed for commercial (i.e. product/service/brand development) ends or not is a different question. In my experience, the best people at doing this sort of thing have often come from totally different fields than design, and even than the social sciences.
For instance, people trained as literary critics or actors do in depth human interpretation all the time. They understand behaviour, motivation and even movement. While corporations are always much more comfortable with manageable fields like technology and the sciences, I believe that it is the messy ambiguous humanism that is at the root of what profit hunters often to seek to understand but find elusive: that bond with the “consumer,” or "empathy."It is a common mistake to simplistically equate skills - eg the ability to have insights, with tools - eg web-based or other forms of anthropology.
As for there being hope for the planet, perhaps the Buddha was onto something when he asserted that humans are defined by desire.
Something to keep in mind when reading the posts on Amazon by customers: there is a building tradition by manufacturers who have products on Amazon to get online and give their own products great reviews as a means of getting consumer interest.
You can usually spot them by how heavy handed they are in their praise and how thoroughly they cover every single feature on the product. They tend to read more like a PR brief than a consumer who really likes their own product.