Friday, January 20, 2006

My interview with a late adopter about web 2.0

It took Gutenberg's printing press decades to make an impact on the lives of ordinary people, and the impact of the Internet on day-to-day life for most people is just starting to be felt. Watching the early adopters is instructive and fun, but the mainstream is where the real money is, right? One of the things early adopters do that mainstream users will not is manage complexity, so let's look at some of the places where we early "web 2.0" adopters tolerate complexity for clues about what Web 2.1 can do better. Here's my notes from an interview with a classic late adopter. She's a relative of mine.
Email habits: Nearly every day she checks inbox at least once. Answer. Typing skills not very good, so often wait a few days to get the 30-45 minutes it takes to write an email. In a week, she responds to 10 emails, and send an original email about once a week. Most email is exchanged communicating with friends and family, but sometimes for business. Business communications always start on the phone, but sometimes the other person initiates a switch to email. Less often she initiates the switch to email. She explicitly adds people's addresses to email address book, because it's easy and convenient, but keesp other contact information separeately on paper. Can't imagine a good way (or a good reason to) amalgamate the two "address books". Have a couple of dozen contacts (family far away eg) that she only corresponds over email with. In contrast, there are 8-10 people she only writes to over post. For about a dozen people exchangine email has replaced letter writing. She has two larger mailing lists that she's created, each with 30 members. Both of these lists are related to reunions she's organizing (one for her college grad class, and one for a family reunion). She Has one smaller group made up of more intimate friends as well. 90% of the time she spends on the computer is dedicated to email. Other than email, she uses the computer for Banking (checks balances only, does everything else in person at the branch). Uses browsers default search engine to search for - recipes - health info - family history research She knows difference between search and location field in the browser and sometimes types urls directly in that people have given her. When she finds what she's looking for, she usually prints it out and files it. Doesn't know what bookmarks are or how to copy and paste from web pages into other files ("sometimes it gets garbled..."). Aspirations: To be able to manage the information I find better Wants to learn to do more, more proficiently, but doesn't want to spend more than two hours a week at it. Next project is to learn about Digital photos on the internet, how to share them with friends and family, and use software tools to improve photos ("what's 'photochop'?") What kinds of photos and with whom (I ask)? Family pictures to share with others who are far away. Print pictures to put in an album. (Why print them at all?) To share with people wo aren't online, want to sit and browse pics sitting around the coffee table.

These are basically my notes copied directly, so hopefully they're readable enough to be useful. I thought I would share them unvarnished with all of you, in the hope you may get some value out of them. I know I found it interesting.