About this newsletter

My name is Peter Spear.
I am an ethnographer and brand consultant living in Hudson, New York.

My entire professional career has been spent in conversation with people describing their experience. This newsletter is a way for me to stay connected to the parts of my work that nourish me.

The first casualty of technology is ritual.

My interest is in the role that true human understanding can play in helping organizations create more meaningful brands.

For me, this idea of “true human understanding” is a way of highlighting the role that the humanities, the social sciences and ethnography should play in helping organizations grow.

Yet, more and more, the corporation aspires to becoming a machine.

The corporation aspires to becoming a machine that only talks about listening when it is describing the way it reads social media posts. (Social listening is reading, not listening.)

The corporation aspires to becoming a data-driven machine that uses mechanistic language to describe the softest part of it’s tissue – UX, CX, UI, etc. (These are like names for a robot side-kick, not the membrane that shapes customer relationships.)

De-humanization has become aspirational.

The largely unspoken truth is that the craft of strategy is built on a foundation of direct human understanding most readily available to us in forms of qualitative research. Forms of research few young marketers have been given any opportunity to explore.

Yet, an entire generation of marketers has been disconnected from the culture they create for and the skills necessary to conduct primary qualitative research.

That business of meaning is human.

This newsletter wants to make you wonder what it is like to be a human being, and how to listen to other human beings about their experience.

The title  - THAT BUSINESS OF MEANING - is meant to capture both the centrality of meaning-making to the growth of any business, and the general disdain with which it’s held.

Thank you!