Bob Reuter drew my attention to the Web Behaviour Test that can be found on the BBC site. I created an account and took the test. My answers revealed that I am a web bear who has the following characteristics:
- Slow-moving: Web Bears like you browse the internet at a leisurely pace – just like real world bears who like to take their time over things.
- Solitary – Like real bears, Web Bears tend to be solitary animals. Your results show that when you are looking for information, you are less likely to use social networks or other sites whose content is created by its users, preferring instead to go it alone.
- Adaptable – Web Bears are highly adaptable multitaskers, able to do several things at the same time. Real-bears are also very flexible, particularly in their diet, and will eat fish, insects, salmon and even scavenge in human refuse for new sources of food.
I am always a bit critical about such tests. Of course, they provide some truths, but some of the characteristics I am supposed to have puzzle me a bit.
I guess, they got that result from the amount of time it took me to continue to the next page while reading the search results. Often I am much faster than I was on this test. Here I wanted to make sure that I choose the best option available as I only got one shot. But I do tend to read the brief descriptions below the links on Google so that I do not necessarily spend time on pages that are not worth visiting. This habit has manifested itself since the first links on the result pages have become links to sale web sites.
Being solitary seems to have a negative connotation in this context. In the test I was asked to search for nutrition and other factual information. Applying basic information literacy (or as Howard Rheingold calls it “crap detection“) skills, I look for trustworthy sources. These are not necessarily blog posts by random people who do not have any reputation in the field, but sites from organizations that I know have authority. For calculating the Body Mass Index I could have chosen almost any site because that is a set formula, but many sites only regurgitate what can be found on an official site or do not show the entire picture. Hence, I prefer to refer to a site of some standing.
Had I been asked to solve a computer or software problem or anything that resembles a do-it-yourself activity, I would have most likely chosen a forum discussion, blog post or video to assist me and not a vendor homepage.
Thus, for me it depends on the type of information I am looking for which internet sites I will populate for finding an answer. If facts are concerned, I’d like to stick as close to an official source as possible, if other issues are concerned that require to discover a certain procedure, I will most likely be more successful in user discussions. Depending on my knowledge about the field and experts in the field, I may also choose to search somebody’s blog instead of the site of an organization if I know that they are years behind in their research.
I am solitary in the sense that I do not have Facebook open all day long or broadcast what I am doing to Twitter and / or Facebook at all times. Usually, I scan Facebook updates only briefly in the evening, but have Twitter running all day. However, I am not reading all messages. Echofon in Firefox is funny in the way it displays messages: Some are displayed, others are just “You have received 7 new tweets” and I would have to open them actively. Thus, many go unnoticed throughout the day.
Being solitary or social should not only be seen in regard to consuming information. There could have been a question on what to do when the answer cannot be found on a site. Social also means that you actively ask questions in a discussion forum or ask your Twitter / Facebook buddies etc. Consuming information is one thing, but participation is quite another and in today’s age with the possibilities of social media well worth looking at in such a test.
My test results must have been mixed up with somebody else’s. 😉 At the beginning of the test I selected that I hardly ever do two things at a time. Later, during the concentration tests, I scored pretty well when there were distractions. So that probably counts for my multitasking. Most of the time I think that I cannot multitask very well. I like to concentrate on the task that I am performing so that I do not get sidetracked and forget something.
Having a phone conversation while writing an email is not really possible for me as I am not able to give the caller my undivided attention that s/he deserves. But of course, I can jot down notes, send a link etc. However, I do have Twitter and email open all the time and briefly check updates throughout the day. If something interesting comes across on Twitter, I usually open the URL in a new browser tab for viewing it later. Thus, I do multitask a little, but actually think that I still do these things sequentially:
I read something online -> I see that Twitter has new messages -> I briefly scan them -> I go back to my reading OR I follow a Twitter link in a new tab and scan the link’s content and bookmark it.
Now. Which web animal are you? Are you a bear, elephant, fox, hedgehog, leopard, elk, octopus, or ostrich?
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