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Total Survey Error in Practice by Brady T. West, N. Clyde Tucker, Lars E. Lyberg, Frauke Kreuter, Brad Edwards, Stephanie Eckman, Edith de Leeuw, Paul P. Biemer

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3Big Data: A Survey Research Perspective

Reg Baker

Marketing Research Institute International, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

3.1 Introduction

In 1987, to commemorate its 50th anniversary, Public Opinion Quarterly asked 16 well‐known scholars and survey practitioners to offer their visions of the future of public opinion research (Bogart, 1987). In his response, Harold Mendelsohn described how “the eventual ‘computerizing’ of the American home undoubtedly will contribute significantly to the speed, accuracy, and economy with which data will be gathered, analyzed, and readied for dissemination.” James Beniger wrote that “a host of new technologies will … make possible the real‐time mass monitoring of individual behavior … Survey research will increasingly give way to more direct measures of behavior made possible by new computer‐based technologies.” In a particularly chilling vision, and perhaps somewhat tongue‐in‐cheek, Robert Worcester described:

Market researchers are close to their tactical ideal, the comprehensively wired micro model of segmented household “norms” which can be conceptualized, pressurized, test marketed to, weighted (up and down), copy tested, product tested, studied, and, yes, manipulated by cables, satellites, and sensors (worn in rings, necklaces, earrings, or even—shades of George Orwell—implanted!).

Three decades later this future, if not now, is at least more clearly visible. This is the world of big data, and depending on where you sit and the type of research ...

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