TechTypes – which are you? #TBT


Consultation c.2000 – check out the computers!

Came across this cute idea from Microsoft – a What’s Your Tech Type? quiz. You answer a few short questions and it tells you whether you are a:

  • Creator
  • Tinkerer
  • Sharer
  • Self-improver
  • Spectator
  • Make Doer

For this week’s #throwbackthursday post I was reminded of a study we did back in 2007 looking at Australian’s online behaviour based on some research conducted by the Forrester Group (Li, 2007), with users being grouped into six different categories of participation:

  • Spectators 33%
  • Joiners 19%
  • Collectors 15%
  • Critics 19%
  • Creators 13%
  • (52% were classified as Inactives)

It was suggested that these categories formed a ladder of participation, with progression from one to the other up the ladder.

To build on these findings, and to see if they were relevant to Australia, in 2007 we conducted an in-depth study to understand more deeply how 18-30 year olds behaved online. Five focus groups were held with a range of participants recruited using a slightly modified version of the Forrester categories (Vivid, 2007). From analysing the transcripts across the groups, overall it was found that, unlike the Forrester work, typologies were not mutually exclusive, being influenced by life stage and personality. Users move in and out of categories depending on their age and personal/social circumstances, as well as their levels of comfort with using technology. It was also found that people either had a one-dimensional relationship with the internet, using it as a transaction or information source, or a two-dimensional relationship that was more about participation and exchange.

Some overall findings:

  • Spectators have a one-dimensional relationship with technology. Their key driver is efficiency – the internet makes their lives easier through activities such as banking, looking up movies, restaurants, etc.
  • Joiners utilise the internet for work, study and general organising of their lives, but are quick to point out that the most important aspect is socialising.
  • Commentators displayed two types of behaviour. The first was deliberate – focussed around interest areas as a way to maintain and explore their interests and where they comment in most online sessions. The other was spontaneous, where they sporadically commented on anything and anyone, usually stemming from a negative provocation or experience.
  • Creators use the internet as a personal development tool. They are hunters and harvesters of information which they then share with others. Unsurprisingly, they spend the most time on the Web compared with other categories, using the language of addiction to describe their internet usage.

A detailed overview of this work, plus other studies of online participation, are reported in this paper:

Reflecting on this work, seems to me that these categories and descriptions are still relevant today, especially given the tech types Microsoft have come up with.

So, what’s your Tech Type?

Other references

  • Australian Museum. (2008). Australians’ on-line behaviour: a report of survey findings. Sydney: Australian Museum. Unpublished report.
  • Kelly L. and Russo, A. (2010). From Communities of Practice to Value Networks: Engaging Museums in Web 2.0. In F. Cameron and L. Kelly (Eds) Hot Topics, Public Culture, Museums. (pp. 281-298). Cambridge Scholars Publishing: London.
  • Li, C. (2007). Social Technographics. Mapping Participation In Activities Forms The Foundation Of A Social Strategy. Cambridge, MA: Forrester Research.
  • Vivid. (2007). Developing On-line Usage Profiles: A research debrief for the Australian Museum. Sydney: Vivid. Unpublished report.

3 thoughts on “TechTypes – which are you? #TBT

    • lyndakelly61 says:

      Thanks for your comment. I agree that we can be many different things at different times (and sometimes even at the same time!). This is one of the deficiencies of classifying systems as they seem (to me at least) to imply that you either progress up a scale or are a single typology.

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