My Data or Data Mining?

By Associate Professor Will Thomas, Suffolk Business School 

We’ve all experienced the wonders of data-driven marketing campaigns. Search for a new mobile phone on one site and you will see a stream of targeted advertisements promoting special offers and the latest handsets as you continue to browse. These can be useful – I often get interrupted in the middle of searching and find an advert reminds me what I was doing earlier, or I see a good offer on a product I know that I want to buy. Equally, they can be annoying – continuing to appear even after you’ve made your purchase or starting to feel like you are being pestered or hounded into a purchasing decision.

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Recently though, we’ve heard about other uses of our online data – how companies might use it to profile us, to make predictions about how we might act, not just in terms of which trainers we might buy, but also about how we intend to vote or what issues are most important to us. Stories such as those about Cambridge Analytica and Facebook or about the use of data by the Gold Coast council highlight the importance of the personal information we keep online. In a world where our data is increasingly ‘out there’ and searchable many questions are raised about how companies should behave.

For marketing professionals, these questions are an ever-present part of their day-to-day practice. As they act to advise clients on the creation of marketing campaigns these questions about the appropriate use of data come up regularly. Those starting a career in marketing need more and more knowledge about where data comes from and the ways in which data can be used in creating personalised content. This is one of the reasons that the new BA (Hons) Marketing course at the University of Suffolk contains modules that will develop skills in data manipulation and the creation of online content as well as those that discuss marketing theory and practice – and we also discuss Business Ethics! We understand that the marketing world isn’t about understanding ‘digital’ but it’s about understanding data – and this course will ensure that our graduates are ready for a career that will be dominated by data.

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#SBSResearch: Ethnographic Research & Analysis

Colleagues across the University of Suffolk are pleased to announce the launch of their book Ethnographic Research and Analysis: Anxiety, Identity and Self.

Tom Vine (Suffolk Business School),‎ Jessica Clark and Sarah Richards (Department of Children, Young People and Education) are the editors of this volume.

Tom explains:

The idea for this book originated from a 2012 conference held at the University of Suffolk. What emerged from this conference was recognition that although our disciplinary backgrounds varied, there was significant value in establishing a shared platform for our ethnographic experiences, not least in the interests of mutual scholarship and reciprocal learning. Notably, and in spite of our disparate subject areas, it became clear that as ethnographers we were encountering similar challenges and epistemological anxieties. Moreover, there appeared to be mutual recognition in terms of the potential for advancing the ethnographic method in the future. In capturing the essence of this conference, this book is not intended as a ‘how to guide’, of which there are many, but rather a space to bring together and share the experiential aspects of ethnographic work. As such, this edited book presents these experiences from a wide range of disciplines including work and organization studies, sociology, social policy, philosophy, management, health and human sciences, family studies, education, disability studies, and childhood studies.

The blurb for the book:

This book reflects on the contemporary use of ethnography across both social and natural sciences, focusing in particular on organizational ethnography, autoethnography, and the role of storytelling. The chapters interrogate and reframe longstanding ethnographic discussions, including those concerning reflexivity and positionality, while exploring evolving themes such as the experiential use of technologies. The open and honest accounts presented in the volume explore the perennial anxieties, doubts and uncertainties of ethnography. Rather than seek ways to mitigate these ‘inconvenient’ but inevitable aspects of academic research, the book instead finds significant value to these experiences.

Taking the position that collections of ethnographic work are better presented as transdisciplinary bricolage rather than as discipline-specific series, each chapter in the collection begins with a reflection on the existing impact and character of ethnographic research within the author’s native discipline. The book will appeal to all academic researchers with an interest in qualitative methods, as well as to advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students.

This volume can be purchased from Amazon.co.uk and is available from the University of Suffolk Library.

#CFP: Storytelling Conference

Held at the University of Suffolk, 10-11 July 2018.

The deadline for submissions is Monday 30th March 2018.

We are excited to announce that the call for papers for our Storytelling Conference is now open. We invite papers that theoretically and empirically engage with a broad range of disciplines reflecting the diverse nature of storytelling and stories substantively and methodologically.

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Photo: Courtesy of Pexels

The conference aims to bring together established academics, early career researchers, PhD candidates and students. Topics covered by this call could include but are not limited to:

  • Stories as a research method(ology)
  • Storytelling in the workplace
  • ‘Storied organisation’
  • Stories of place, space, movement and migration
  • Archaeological and historical stories
  • Children, stories and storytelling
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Stories in and of education
  • The organisation of story
  • The storytelling business
  • Sex and sexuality
  • Ethnographic stories
  • Disability and activism
  • Cultures and communities
  • Stories and popular culture

We welcome traditional presentations of 20 minutes with additional time for questions, pre-formed panels of speakers, and posters; as well as alternative modes of presentation including performance, film, photography etc.

Please send 250 word abstracts for a 20 minute presentation, 500 word abstracts for panels and 150 word abstracts for posters: storytellingpapers@uos.ac.uk

We look forward to receiving your submissions

Storytelling Conference Team,

Jessica Clark, Sarah Richards and Tom Vine

For further information and registration, please visit the website.