The audience is changing. As mainstream culture has cracked up in the last two decades, the big beasts of business, media and politics hired vast armies of market researchers to divide us into groups according to our age, our gender, our income and our post-code – the better to go after us one group at a time.
Taking pot shots at the audience via its demographic attributes, however, didn’t work very well. It pigeonholed us into rigid categories, and it ended with those in authority feeding back to us what they thought we wanted according to who they thought we are. The result has been unenthusiastic audiences, inferior products and institutions out of kilter with those they claim to represent.
Many of us have begun to rebel. Little by little we’re forming ourselves into flocks around the things that we really like – many of which, confusingly for the big beasts, come together outside the traditional categories and across national borders.
Flockwatching is a new approach to understanding audiences and growing good things. There is now an ocean of information about us on blogs, social networks and the net: most of us are happy to have it there, and others are happy to give our data to organisations that we really like.
At Flockwatching we use all this data to understand audiences and social change. We bring fresh tools, ideas and interpretive models to make sense of it, and use it in exciting new ways. We mine it to find out new things about ourselves, filter it to foment more organic relationships between audiences and institutions, draw on it to help predict what’s going to happen next, borrow it for open experiments in mass observation.