Welcome to our series exploring the researchers who make Feedback tick. Our crew includes those with anthropology, sociology and psychology backgrounds who help us understand past and present behaviors and look ahead at the trends of the future. This interview is with Researcher Michael Kessler…
What’s your personal background (education) and research interest? (Might be also just what you were into before Feedback.)
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from the University of Mary Washington. I started out my collegiate career by obtaining an Associate’s Degree in General Studies at Germanna Community College with the abstract goal of becoming a professor of ancient civilizations and mythology. I had been led to believe through the research I had done that to achieve my goal I’d need to become a History or English Major since those professors often taught mythology electives. It wasn’t until I found my way into an Intro to Cultural Anthropology and its sister course, Intro to Physical Anthropology, taught by an incredibly driven and talented professor who sparked a passion in me for understanding others and how they see the world. My current research focus outside of Feedback is religious in nature, since I’m driven to really and truly want to understand why people believe what they believe. Not just the overarching group of people, but for individuals who happen to think differently as well.
What’s the most interesting audience you’ve researched in your time at Feedback?
Every audience has been interesting to me. From truckers to engineers to bankers, the projects that crop up are so diverse that I often find myself researching more and more into the audiences even after the project has closed. If I had to choose I think I’d say that (video) gaming audiences are really something close to my heart as a fellow gamer.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve discovered?
I would say that it’s pretty weird how much information about less than legal activities is posted via open, public social media.
What was the most fun project and why?
I honestly had more fun doing the projects that I thought would be the least interesting. There was a project looking into financial services in Sweden and trucking in the US that both left me with so many new questions and gave me things to think about that I hadn’t even imagined.
What’s the most satisfying thing about the research?
The most satisfying thing I’d have to say is the feeling of knowing something that I didn’t know beforehand. Every project brings incredible new insights into the human condition and that’s about as satisfying a feeling as I can imagine.