During September 2008, I did a quick survey to gain some insights into how people use some of the newer features of the web such as blogs, tags and social networking sites. I was also interested compare the extent to which these tools are used by people who work making sites with those who just use web. The survey was part of research for a paper I was presenting at Oz-IA 08.
I surveyed 90 people, with two broad categories of participants:
- Web Professionals; people employed in the preparation of websites
- Web Users; people who don’t make sites, but just use the web either socially or for work
The first group (web professionals) contained two sub-groups: web evangelists and, web workers (people whose everyday work involves the preparation of websites). The Web Users surveyed were drawn from six different groups of users, for example teachers, media workers or students.
The survey contained a total of 21 questions that relate to the use of: blogs, content tagging and tag clouds, video and photo sharing sites, social networking sites and RSS.
Basically the survey considered Passive use of the tools, such as visiting or looking at the contributions of others, and Active use like putting photos or videos on a sharing site, having your own blog or Myspace page or providing tags for some web content.
The tools were used on average by 62% of the Web Professional participants and 32% of the Web Users surveyed.
As might be expected, in both areas of use, the web evangelists reported much high usage. With Passive use for example, all of the evangelists (100%) said they had visited a social networking page or viewed a photo or blog of someone else, compared to about 80% for the other participants. There was a greater difference in the use of tags (or tag clouds) to locate information with 90% of evangelists saying they used them compared to 27% of general web users.
When it came to Active use, the differences were more striking: For example, 85% of web evangelists said they had made comments on web pages or blogs of others compared to 33% of general web users. When it came to tagging, 90% of evangelists said they had tagged content compared to just 18% of web users.
I feel the most notable finding, is the great difference between how much these tools are used by web evangelists when compared to people who see the web as just another everyday thing to be used in an everyday way. This difference in usage also extends to web workers who are not evangelists. They also just see the web as something that they work with and not some all encompassing passion.
In general, when it comes to use of web 2.0 tools, a smaller percentage of the general community than we sometimes expect use them, and those who do use them, do so much less often. For more information see the report on the “Use of Web 2.0 Tools survey“.