How Research-Driven Organizations Become Thought Leaders

Posts by Bob Lalasz

Who Owns Halloween?

Not commercially — I know that’s Instagram and your local pet costume pop-up store. I mean scientifically. Who can scientifically explain why the hell we love Halloween so much?

Mathias Clasen, for a start. Five years ago, Clasen (an assistant professor of literature and media at Aarhus University) wrote this wonderful synthetic essay for the British Psychological Society, curating what research says about the anthropological and evolutionary psychological roots of Halloween.…

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It’s Not Search Versus Social

All of the leaders of research-driven groups I’ve worked with over the last five years have two things in common (other than their work being based in research).

  1. They all live in social.
  2. They all find optimizing for search as appetizing and mandatory as cold creamed spinach.
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Stop Overplaying Your Study

My blood runs cold every time I hear researchers say: “We hope our study won’t be interpreted as saying (insert horrible unintended conclusion not warranted by the study’s findings).”

Because it means a) they don’t have clear messaging for their study, b) they’ve overframed their study, or c) they have clear messaging but haven’t enforced it.…

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Accuracy Isn’t Everything

There’s no “right” way to communicate research (although there are plenty of ineffective ways). There are only tradeoffs between accuracy on the one hand and precision, relevance and impact on the other.

Pretending those tradeoffs don’t exist — or not being crystal clear about which is more important for the goals you want to achieve — is an excellent way to make your expertise invisible, or visible for the wrong reasons.…

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Face Your Funnels

“You think you’re reading an essay. You’re not. You’re moving through a funnel. This shouldn’t surprise you. You’ve been moving through funnels all day.”

That’s how the data visualizer Elijah Meeks opens his Medium essay “We Live in a World of Funnels.” If you’re online, Meeks says, you’re in a funnel.…

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The Five-Minute Talk

You’ve just gotten an invitation to give a talk. The audience is one you’ve been dying to reach. You’re getting five minutes toward the end of a day that starts early and has a very busy program.

Your first thought: that’s not enough time.…

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You Are a Chart

What’s the most important thing about how you communicate your research and expertise?

If it’s too early in the morning for such a big question, look at what the Apple data visualization engineer Elijah Meeks — executive director of the Data Visualization Society — says should be the most important thing about a chart, one of the fundamental units of research communication:

The most important thing about a chart is not its aesthetics, the technology used to create it, the kind of data visualization layout or even the data it represents.

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The Yoga Class Test

A church in my neighborhood holds a Saturday morning yoga class that I attend off and on. While the class was settling in, I overheard a discussion among some of the participants about kids and their smartphones — they’re on them all the time, they create bad posture, etc.…

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