Marketeers are data hounds and view the world through a kaleidoscope of TGIs, JICREGs, TVRs, GRPs, PIs and other splendid analytical goodness. However, although very smart and helpful, these systems are still approximations (aka guess-timates) of what might be happening in a complex world. Now, as people increasingly lead their lives online, we have information about what is actually happening in a complex world. So, for example, instead of mocking-up profiles of typical customers to help guide strategy - we can let the data describe the reality. And we can see how that reality changes. All of which, on the face of it, sounds like a good thing. However, in fact, the move from reference to reality is tricky. For starters, there's A LOT of this reality stuff and it's VERY messy. But as with all technology, that bit will eventually be solved by some smart folk, a few machines and a bit of Gordon Moore's magic. No, the tricky part is moving away from the reassuring, grand planning environment into one where you know who the customer is - because you can smell him. It's The Cathedral And The Bazaar all over. In the networked world data isn't an extrapolation or a sample - it's
behaviour. There's no need to second guess the market when you can just wander around it. What does this mean in practice? Well one thing is for sure. When setting up a community, blog or social net, be aware that your
guests won't be the people you invited. But they will be the people you need to know. Make them welcome.