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User Activities in Web 2.0 Environments

Next at COST298 is Mijke Slot, whose interest is in user motivations in the online entertaiment domain in general. This is based on previous work surveying the possible roles users may take online, across a large number of Web 2.0 sites. Mijke begins by taking us through some of the perceived pros and cons of Web 2.0 first - the negative and positive side effects of user empowerment. But what does an actual observation of user roles tell us?

Mijke's research surveyed some 600 mainly Dutch Internet users, and examined their (self-reported) online roles - key terms here include consuming and communicating, but also creating and facilitating. Consumption, not unexpectedly, still dominates, though, and less active roles are carried out more often than more active forms of participation. However, there are also substantial generational differences here - younger users are online for longer, and engage in more activities; they engage in more novel activities, and are more active on social network sites; but they don't classify themselves as more skilled than the average (what they perceive as 'average' may differ from older age groups, though!).

Early results from this study support the theory of a 90-9-1 role (90% 'mere' users, 9% active users, 1% lead users) - but those 10% can still constitute a substantial number of contributors, of course, and the research so far does not seem to indicate that the idea of different user rules is overvalued. Additionally, it should also be pointed out that the 90% who are inactive in one Web site may be among the 10% of active users elsewhere; there is no uniform mass of 90% non-users on the Web, in other words. This limits the applicability of the 90-9-1 rule. It's also still necessary to examine how online and offline media use relate to one another.

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