Tim is a world-renowned specialist in the application of technology in the field of market and opinion research and is probably the most widely-published writer in the field. His roots are in data analysis, programming, training and technical writing. These days, as principal at meaning he works with researchers, users of research data and technology providers around the globe, as an independent advisor. He is quite passionate about improving the research process and empowering people through better use of technology.

For a while now I’ve been thinking of doing a blog – a professional blog about market research and technology – about the stuff I think about at meaning, a bit of the background to some of the reviews I do, notes from conferences I go to, interesting conversations I have with people who come to see me, or vice versa. There could be plenty to say, and it might even be interesting to other people. Indeed, from time to time, people have asked me if I have a blog, and the answer has moved recently from “no”, to the more cryptic “not yet, but that might be about to change”. Today the answer switches to “yes”, though I am starting with a soft launch. Chances are, you will find this as you dip back through the archive.

I realised I had to take the plunge. One concern I had had for a long time was that I am often brought in to discussions with companies in confidence – often with good reason as they may be trialling a new idea with me, or the situation the have asked me to look at is not one that covers them in glory. I had used that as a reason no to blog. But lately I have realised that there is still plenty to say without breaching confidence – and if I am in doubt, I can always ask if people mind if I blog about what they have just told me. People might be interested in my ideas, the connections I make, the things I see (perhaps even some of the things I don’t see).

So I taken the plunge. I’ve been tinkering around with WordPress for a few weeks now, after it featuring in a session on Web 2.0 communications at the British Computer Society. I realised that not only would it be a wonderful vehicle for my meaning blog, but rather like the person who naively approaches Ikea one Sunday with their spouse, to buy a new bowl to do the dishes, and ends up ordering a whole new kitchen, so the blog project has led to moving our entire site into a content management system (yes, using WordPress, which is a surprisingly versatile CMS too). The site won’t launch for a few more weeks, but from today I am blogging in anticipation.

Of course, those of you who know me very well will know that there is a bit of the programmer in me still, from my early days. I don’t think I was actually a very good programmer, but I know how it works, and from time to time, it can make a pleasant change to be knitting some code again. So, I have been delving deep into MySQL, PHP and of course CSS. I hope you are impressed. I am a bit surprised by what I have managed to do. But it also serves to remind me just how slow and painstaking any kind of code development is, even in today’s so-called rapid development environments. And how 3% of the end result can seem to consume 97% of the effort – particularly galling when it happens to be the last 3% prior to launch.

In my next post I will say a bit more about my plans for the blog, and also the back catalogue – you may have noticed a curious feature of this entry, for entry number one, is that it is not the first entry.

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