Hypercontext: Same as it never was

Date of publication: February 11, 2001


Technological advances are engendering debate on the survey production line, but the process is only part of the story. Are we in the grip of a drive not towards insight but towards mere automation? Do we want our data deeper – or just cheaper? Much existing online research tries to recreate a comfortable environment for researchers (i.e. controlled focus groups, moderated email groups, sampled and/or panel surveys, etc.). Perhaps this is because we tend to work in an experimental, quasi-scientific way and in control of the data collection process. Nobody would disagree that these initiatives represent excellent practical applications of the new media. This paper argues that such control is often not necessary nor desirable. It is time to put the participant in control of the process via hypercontext. There are a number of opportunities opening up via the internet to collect and interpret information in a way fundamentally different from traditional methods. The internet gives the opportunity to shift perceptions in the same way as did new qualitative methods of the 1960s.

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