Monday, September 05, 2005

two kinds of internet users

I’d been thinking on how there’s really 2 kinds of Internet users. And when those surveys and polls and studies talk about Internet users, they’re too often lumped together, when it’d be more helpful to recognize distinct segments.

There’s the relational segment (for lack of a better term). These Internet users actively use the Web, these people live online, active participant in online communities, sometimes referred to as netizens or cyber culture savvy or whatever. Email, websites, IMs, podcast, vlog, blog, message boards, chat room, moblog, wikis are all common venacular (though not every one of them would use every online tool). Relational Internet users have friends who are merely online, and also those who know them in person.

Then there’s the transactional segment. This is the majority of people who use the Internet, and use it as a tool to get what they want and not much else. These are the people who have made it possible for commercial dot-com success. These are people who use the Internet to loosely connect with people they already know.

The relational segment can go online, and almost see the Internet as a place. Various tools help them to move around in that space, do their business, as well as relate to other people in that place. The transactional segment can go online, use the Internet tools to enhance and serve their everyday tangible & concrete life. And they stop there.

dj chuang makes a good observation about users of the internet.

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