21st October, 2013
We live in an increasingly visually influenced world. When I say this, I do not mean that we are more aware of our surroundings, or that we are consciously making an effort to become assimilated into our local environment. Rather, I would suggest that our ability to capture specific aspects of our environments has potentially provided us an entirely new mode of research analysis. And what does this mean?
We now nonchalantly capture almost every occasion without pausing. The capture quality is high, very high in some cases. The detail of the world is easily transposed onto our portable screen through a punitive action that many utilise countless times every day. We capture more of our understanding of the world through images and in turn share more of these images with one another more than ever. Where discussion would enhance our understanding of experience we now provide resolute contextualisation through shared images.
This form of shared contextualisation is slowly beginning to manifest in the remit of many researchers. Not content with standardised study formatting, many researchers are seeking to engage their participants through a range of devices that seek to not only enhance the research they receive but simultaneously augment their user’s participatory experience.
Researchers can systematically begin to request their participants to expand on the traditional qualitative feedback by presenting snapshots of their exact location; their exact relationship with the ‘target’; their exact individual perspective at a single moment in time. In turn, the semantic field the researchers can access also grows.
Visuals in research can provide the researcher with new insight into more traditional questions by allowing participants to explore their own creativity in their responses. When the audience is more engaged the quality of the research is likely to improve through a reduction in tedious cognitive processes and an element of self-provision for the researcher’s gain (tapping into generation Ys always online, always tech-ready status, photos a-go-go).
The addition of mass imagery to research techniques is reciprocal: researchers should be making wholehearted use of their own brand of images and videos to evolve their studies. Many, I am sure, are. Developing engagement techniques that enhance research in any field will have significant benefits for all individuals involved whilst priming the next generation of potential participants for their potential on-going role.
Of course this addition to the armoury of research techniques does not come freely. The most important question surrounds the impartiality of the person/s viewing the provided imagery (in the context of a study) as well as the interconnected question discussing the collection and collation of the vast amount of imagery that could be received for any given study.
Check out our next post for more information on this topic…