Stimulate this.

One of the many odious aspects of focus groups is using the term “stimulus” to refer to the creative work being subjected to the group’s malevolent scrutiny.

When I think of a stimulus, I think of a cattle prod. Or a latexed digit going where I don’t want it to. Which is maybe apt, since another odious focus group term is “probe,” as in “Let’s probe to see if this image is polarizing.”

Painful. Dehumanizing. Clinical. Stimuli are meant to provoke reaction. But often the reaction they provoke, in the stimulated and stimulator alike, is: please please stop.

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