Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Digital tribes are springing up in the UK

EARLY INTERNET AND TECHNOLOGICAL adopters will form a digital elite, according to a social anthropologist working from a survey of the UK.

Attitudes to technology and our behaviour online will form the basis of the "class divides of the future," according to the Digital Anthropology report.

The survey of over 2,000 people from across Blighty found the country is split into six 'tribes' determined by their acceptance of online tools.

The largest tribe, consisting of nearly a third of people, is composed of those with voyeuristic tendencies, people who regularly go online but do not have the confidence to create their own blog or Twitter feed.

Nearly one-quarter - 23 per cent - in the UK class themselves as 'Timid Technophobes' who are reluctant to go online other than to check email or indulge in occasional browsing.

On the other end of the scale are the 'Digital Extroverts', the early adopters who like to tweet and blog and make up about around nine per cent of those surveyed.

The social anthologist at the University of Kent who analysed the survey, Professor David Zeitlyn, believes that the digital extroverts will succeed both financially and professionally compared to their more timid neighbours.

According to Zeitlyn, openness to new technology and willingness to embrace it will soon become more important in dictating your life chances than schooling or your parents' economic status.

He warned that internet refuseniks were not in a position to enjoy the financial and professional benefits of the web, and therefore would suffer with a lower economic status.

The survey also found that attitudes to technology are also boosting the geographic digital divide in the UK, with people in the North-East more likely to be 'timid' about using the web. Comparatively, Londoners were found to be more savvy with only 19 per cent regarding themselves as technophobic, and Northern Ireland playing host to the biggest adopters with only 14 per cent afraid of the world wide web.

Tristia Clarke, commercial director at ISP TalkTalk, which commissioned the survey, wrote in her blog saying that the company wanted to figure out how people "use the Internet and other technologies currently, and their plans for buying new gadgets and gizmos in the future."

Commenting on the prevalence of 'Timid Technophobes' she added, "It seems to me that should be a real concern as the internet becomes an increasingly important platform for accessing services from both commercial organisations and government bodies."

Pullin, Alex. 2009. "Digital Tribes are springing up in the UK". The Inquirer. Posted: October 12, 2009. Available online: http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1558308/digital-tribes-springing-uk

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