A note about a thing you don’t need to worry about and a technology you don’t need to use.

I recently stumbled upon an article in Axios about how the $15 minimum wage is unpopular with swing voters. It suggested that President Biden might abandon including the proposal in stimulus because it would face too much resistance, and that swing voters’ response in research Axios commissioned might explain why.

Now, as I’m reading this, it’s just one sentence at a time, so I’m surprised to see the name Schlesinger — we use them frequently for qualitative research recruiting, and I suppose I was expecting a polling firm, like Ipsos or Quinnipiac or something — but the research was…


Chuck Schumer has imaginary friends

This pictured text is from a profile from 2007 in The New Yorker by Jeffrey Goldberg. Let’s just quote the thing:

Schumer says that he is accompanied everywhere he goes by two imaginary middle-class friends, who advise him on all manner of middle-class concerns. Their names, until recently, were Joe and Eileen O’Reilly. “For the book’s sake, we wanted them to be more national,” Schumer said, “so they became the Baileys.” The Baileys live in Massapequa, in Nassau County, a town that is invariably known on Long Island as “Matzoh-Pizza.” The Baileys are both forty-five years old: Joe works…


With a brief explanation of why you absolutely should

I had such a good time explaining how to do observational research, that I thought I’d also take a moment to explain how to do secondary (a.k.a., “desk”) research.

In my view, you can’t even begin to frame or reframe the problem to be solved until you’ve done both of these things.

In my view, you shouldn’t turn up to a big client meeting without having done both of these things.

In my view, you’re nowhere near being ready to start writing up a creative brief, or designing primary research (qualitative or quantitative), or developing “How might we?” …


The first in a limited series about what brand & communications strategists should do *before* they write a creative brief

Author’s note: Yesterday I wrote a series of tweets about this, but thought it might be useful to assemble them in one short article, and address some of the feedback I got, as well. Thanks to all who replied.

Something I noticed on my way to a site visit this week. Cool scaffolding! Who knew!

A lot of emphasis is placed on the creative brief. The creative brief is the primary deliverable of a brand, communications, social, digital, content, experiential or design strategist.

I, personally, hate creative briefs.

To me, creative briefs are dead letters. They’re useless upon delivery. …


Originally posted on May 9, 2011 at www.prettylittlehead.com

Author’s note: For some reason, people still use archive.org to reference this piece, so I am reposting it here until I can decide what to do with my old blog domain. I am sort of surprised* that I stand by everything in this post from 8 years ago. I have made only one material change and that is the gif below. It was originally an ad for the Sony Walkman featuring a woman exercising. I can no longer find this video on YouTube, so I have chosen instead to show you a woman drinking Tab cola (for beautiful people). …


To understand the conditions for more meaningful civic participation, we need to get off The Ladder.

When it comes to discussions about how to get those who seem to be “unengaged” more engaged with civic life, one metaphor comes up again and again — “the ladder” of civic participation. We decided to dig in to the metaphor, its origins, what it’s really about, and how it’s evolved over time.

The Ladder as You Probably Know It

I first explicitly encountered the concept of the “ladder” when someone shared a link to a talk presented at Personal Democracy Forum in 2015 about the “Interested Bystander” in American civic life. …


This post should be short. But it’s way, way long.

I have the luxury of two gardens. One is on a sunny patio in Brooklyn. The other is in a wooded area halfway between a bay and a beach in Long Island. I am at best an inexpert gardener; I do not have a black thumb, but I don’t really know what I’m doing. Nevertheless, gardening has lessons for us all.

Lesson 1: Experimenting is fun, and even fruitful, but it’s better to start with a plan.

I’ve generally approached gardening as having basically four elements:

  1. pick a plant you like the looks of (or the taste of, in the case of herbs and vegetables)
  2. put it in some dirt
  3. water it
  4. prune it sometimes

In…


Measuring the effectiveness of protest movements

My view of the 2017 NYC Women’s March

In the last 10 years, we’ve seen four significant protest movements emerge. In that time period, the first was the Tax Day Protests that birthed the Tea Party movement; the second was Occupy Wall Street in the aftermath of the financial crisis; the third was Black Lives Matter in the wake of fatal shootings of unarmed black men and women by police; and the fourth was the Women’s March. As with all protest movements, there is an ongoing debate about their efficacy; the jury is still out on the “effectiveness” of the anti-war protests during the late 1960s, for example.


At a recent gathering of AAPOR (American Association of Public Opinion Researchers), researchers from Harvard, Tufts and U. Mass-Amherst presented their paper, published in January, titled “The Elusive Likely Voter: Improving Electoral Predictions with More Informed Vote Propensity Models” (link).

You’re probably familiar with the phrase “likely voters”. Most political polls frame the presentation of their polling numbers as representing the current sentiment “among likely voters”. But who are they? For that matter, who are unlikely voters? How should we understand what makes someone a likely voter or non-voter?

It turns out that this is actually a hard statistical modeling…


Introducing our newsletter!

Check out these awesome illustrations from Vinay!

We’re excited to start sharing out from the incredible vault of research we’ve been assembling over the past year — and to do that in a manageable way, we’ve decided to launch a newsletter, First Person Projects Weekly. We’d love it if you subscribed, which you can do here.

Why a newsletter?

There are lots of good reasons for newsletters, but the main one is it helps us share with you what we’re learning about what drives participation in civic life, more or less as we learn it ourselves. …

Farrah Bostic

Founder of The Difference Engine @DifferenceNGN. I listen to humans so I can help businesses all over the world make important brand & business decisions.

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