[Air-l] Internet = toaster = habitual use

Ulla Bunz bunz at scils.rutgers.edu
Mon Jun 2 16:29:17 PDT 2003


<quote who="jeremy hunsinger">
>  and i think many people have begun to think of
> the personal computer as an  appliance like the toaster....
>

As an aside to Jeremy's original inquiry, the above statement reminds me of
something I just heard at the International Communication Association and
thought quite interesting. Robert Larose was making the argument that much of
our Internet/technology use is habitual, rather than guided by active choice
following uses and gratifications theory (a mass communication theory many of
you are probably familiar with). Larose was saying that, i.e., we don't
actually choose consciously to check our email in the morning, it's just
something that we do automatically because it's part of our routine - like
popping two slices of toast into the toaster in the morning (unless you're the
corn flakes kind of person, of course, but I'm sure you see the analogy one
way or the other).

I think this is an interesting perspective and certainly seems true for some
of my personal Internet and technology usage. It also goes back to the point
Charles Ess brought up on this list just a short time ago when he shared with
us that his students don't really exprience the "wow" effect about the
Internet and related technology anymore. Some of the people responding to that
thread had said that it's probably because younger generations have grown up
with the Internet and thus take it for granted. They know no different than
the Internet being part of their everday life. Introducing the word "habit"
and "habitual use" to describe some of these phenomena may be stating the
obvious, but I certainly had never heard it stated quite that openly before
and thought I'd share this with you, since Jeremy's statement reminded me of
it.

Comments? Anyone else encountered this before? Are there theories in other
disciplines that address this?
Ulla




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