[Air-L] Internet User Research

Meryl Krieger meryl.krieger at gmail.com
Sun Jun 28 19:08:53 PDT 2009


I can't say I fit in that majority if people aren't believing your results
because of sample size. While I don't do this everyday, my significant other
does tech support at a major university (to remain nameless) and comments on
this all the time. I find it interesting that there is such a disconnect
between the experiences of everyday computer users and those of us who are
immersed in technology - we ourselves *don't* represent the mainstream and I
think that can be easy to forget. I find as I teach in the classroom that I
am easily the best computer person in the room - my students are not IT
people they are taking gen ed classes in university and community college
classes. The range I see varies from people who don't know the difference
between a Mac and a PC (not kidding) to those who don't understand that the
internet isn't a place on their computer. One student told me last week that
his paper was saved "in" Microsoft Word - because that was the only way he
understood how to retrieve the file - rather than on a network drive. The
only reason he gets *there* is because that's how he was taught to save

You must have done so pretty fast talking to get these people to let you
watch them use their computers! Best of luck,


On Sun, Jun 28, 2009 at 9:20 PM, John Stephen Veitch <
john.s.veitch at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hello Everyone
> It's a long time since I've contributed here.
> Six years ago I visited the homes of 14 randomly selected people and took
> notes as they used the Internet. (I don't recommend that you try that.)
> Several important things seemed to come out of that.
> The most startling for me was the poor level of knowledge and the LACK of
> use.
> Also that Internet use was private, and that people felt uncomfortable
> using
> the Internet while being watched, and I felt uncomfortable being there.
> That report is here.
> http://www.ate.co.nz/internet/bryndwr.html
> At the time members of this forum disbelieved my results. The sample is too
> small! Well yes it was, nobody can argue against that. However, as I think
> I
> now show, six years ago I was on the correct track. I should have followed
> that more vigorously. The summary says:
> "My research suggests that it will be many years before people understand
> how the internet can make a real difference in their lives. They use it in
> a
> manner that ensures that little difference is made. Most people would
> struggle to use it for more than 2 hours a week, including email.
> Most people have just enough knowledge to send an email and to search for
> and find a web site. People are not joining listservs, and for the most
> part, they do not buy things on the Internet. An internet connected
> computer
> is much more complex than a VCR machine. We know that most people can't
> programme their VCR's, so in a nutshell that's the problem."
> Six weeks ago I asked several local people to do something online that I
> thought was simple and that most people would do easily. No response,
> nothing. That got me thinking about the 2003 work, again.
> I prepared a list of about 30 Internet behaviours, and asked people to
> check
> their machines when the need to do so, and to count the number of times
> these behaviours occurred. People had time to prepare their replies. I only
> collected NUMBERS from them, relevant numbers that they had chosen. I found
> most people were very keen to help, and worked hard to give me sensible
> numbers.
> The results were reported back by telephone. That conversation often
> revealed more information about why this person used the Internet in the
> way
> they did.
> It's important to note that the homes in which this work was done were
> selected randomly.  However, the people who did the survey in each house
> were really volunteers. My request to them was that the "person who was
> most
> active on the Internet" should be the respondent.So the results should be
> heavily biased towards active use and towards the behaviour of the most
> knowledgeable users. It's therefore, very disappointing for me to see how
> little use is made of the technology.
> In particular, the feedback process, the self publishing possibilities of
> Web 2.0 technologies, seem to be used hardly at all. The failure of people
> to embrace social networks and social media surprises me.
> http://www.ate.co.nz/survey2009.html
> --
> John Stephen Veitch
> http://www.ate.co.nz/internet/
> http://www.openfuture.co.nz/
> http://openfuture-network.ryze.com/
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J. Meryl Krieger
Ph.D., Folklore & Ethnomusicology
Associate Instructor, xxxxxx University
Adjunct Instructor, xxxxx Community College

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