Just A User

There are two kinds of users out there: internet hobbyists/geeks and information seekers. The hobbyists are the surfers, the RSS subscribers, the blog readers, the avid mp3 downloaders, the podcasters, the bloggers, the podcast listeners. They are pioneers, fascinated by trying the latest technologies. Their computers, gadgetry, operating system, software, and computer knowledge is often a statement of who they are, like a jacked-up truck with big tires signifies its driver is a redneck. Using the internet is an activity in itself.

The information seekers are the searchers. Like the male shoppers described in Paco Underhill’s captivating book Why We Buy, they have a specific purpose in mind, find only what is relevant, evaluate their choices, and then leave quickly. They can be music nerds, news readers, cooks, repairmen (or women), etc. For these people, the internet is a resource for other activities and interests that happen in the physical world, whether it’s a discussion about politics or a research paper or finding a new apartment.

My boyfriend falls under the first category. He starts talking his geek talk and I can’t help but think, “Why should I care that I can synchronize my RSS news feeds with my podcasting subscriptions and mp3 blogs through JoesSynchronizingService.com?” I would rather use my time for something else than taking time to set it up, finding content I’m interested in, regularly have the time to read or listen to, and won’t tire of in two weeks.

As an information seeker, I regularly use the internet for email, stock photos, virtual rapport with other designers, and research I need to do for work. But that’s about it. For me, the random clicking is a waste of precious finger energy that could be used for the production part of my day job, things like folding, stapling, binding. It also saves my eyesight, already strained by eyeballing the center of objects in a design or measuring sixteenths of an inch with a ruler.

Not that my boyfriend and I don’t occasionally cross over to the opposite mindset, but our regular internet habits do pretty much stay the same. For these two different types, it’s not just the internet usage that’s involved, it’s how the user views their time on the internet, as well as how their brains are wired.

The hot new internet technologies are made by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. As with any other hobby or line of work, it’s not that it’s uninteresting, but it does require time, learning, understanding, and effort to get to the desired results. This may never appeal to the information seekers, but can reach a wider consumer base if it is applied and marketed properly. The art of knitting may go underappreciated as an elaborate doily (except by other knitters), until it is used to create a fashionable beanie, kitchy Kleenex box cover, or pop art tapestry.

The most successful applications create a demand that did not previously exist in a wider market. This is where design comes in. Design informs what to expect and why we should be excited about the results. It requires an understanding of the time it takes to get from Point A to Point B, and entice you into clicking over to the non-essential but noteworty Point C. It must also be useful to the stream-of-consciousness clicker and the information seeker.

 

Comments

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    Disclaimer:
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