Sunday, 9 March 2014

Web Spirit Animal, What`s Yours? [Individual Project]

James Louie Chavez | 2010-32191 |

Spirit Animal
Briefly, spirit animals are totems inspired by beasts associated by people with characteristics and skills one must possess or supposed to acquire trough his lifetime--a representation of you or what you want to be.

This concept can be observed among cultures across the world but is most popularly related to the Native American societies.  Today, it has extended its meaning and can now be even inspired by humans ourselves—it can be celebrities, political figures, fictional characters from your favorite movie, people you interact with on a daily basis, etc.    

I would however like to focus on a particular set of spirit animals that may represent who you are. Who you are online, when looking for information online, more specifically

The Virtual Revolution
Two years ago, a documentary by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Open University (OU) charted two decades of profound change since the invention of the World Wide Web, weighing up the huge benefits and the unforeseen downsides (The Virtual Revolution n.d.).

How the internet affected how we search for answers and consume information is one of the main questions this project aimed to answer. For the purpose of their project, BBC and OU used data from the survey research done by Professor David Nicholas, Dr Ian Rowlands and Dr David Clark from the University College in London.

Usual studies on web-wide information search takes into account the demographic and behavioral characteristics of the respondents—basically how one would perform a given task online (Hodkinson and Geoffrey 2003). The figure below shows a similar study looking into the phenomenon (Hodkinson and Geoffrey 2003, 31).

Professor Nicholas, Dr. Rowlands and Dr. Clark focused on how people who use the web a lot are different to people who don’t. They initially came up with the Fox and the Hedgehog to describe online information-seeking and processing of these individuals.

Fox and Hedgehog
The Fox and Hedgehog archetypes could have been inspired by the famous words of Archilochus, a poet from ancient Greece: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing" (De Rond 2002). 
Putting it into context, people who fall under the Fox archetype are fast-moving and are great at finding information quickly. Just as real-world foxes ready to prey on even fast-moving creatures.

They are highly social too when they are online. They tend to use social networks to look for answers and consume information. In a nutshell, the Fox is great in multitasking—opens many tabs and jumps from window to window simultaneously. They also tend to stay for a shorter period of time in a webpage when searching for answers, a stark contrast they have with the Hedgehog who does otherwise.

(White and White n.d.)

Web Hedgehogs are cautious information seekers, like the real-world hedgehog which carefully searches out food, they move slowly combing through the internet for the right answers. They are also usually solitary online, barely making interactions unless very necessary. Given this solitary nature, they would most probably rather find a needle in a haystack than resort to social networks for information. Basically, they are better off concentrating on one online task at a time instead of multitasking.

If you are curious as to your web spirit animal, you can no longer know it yourself because BBC`s online survey unfortunately is now over. Basing however from their data, if you were born during the mid to late 90s or later, there is a greater chance that you are a Fox. The blur as to where one falls under happens to individuals born the early to mid-90s. There is a greater chance that you are a Hedgehog if you were born earlier than these periods.

Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants 
People who fall under the Fox archetype are more often than not, digital natives. This means that they most probably grew up with modern computing devices, the Web and other technologies using it as a platform. Hedgehogs on the other hand are more often digital immigrants. They are individuals who were born before the existence of digital technology and adopted it to some extent later in life.

(Gayatri 2010)

The Internet indeed has changed the way we think and search for answers. This is if we are going to use the intergenerational divide or difference it has created among its users. Is this just a matter of “to each his own” or is something really better? We have yet to know..

De Rond, Mark. "Reviewer 198, the hedgehog, and the fox: Next generation theories in strategy." Journal of Management Inquiry , 2002: 35-45.

Gayatri, Sasha. "Digital Native Vs. Digital Immigrants." The Social Media Trainee. May 9, 2010. (accessed March 8, 2014).

Hodkinson, Christopher, and Kiel Geoffrey. "Understanding web information search behavior: An exploratory model." Journal of End User Computing , 2003: 27-48.

"The Virtual Revolution." BBC. n.d. (accessed March 08, 2014).

White, Ian, and Ros White. "IRW." n.d. (accessed March 8, 2014).

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