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Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Jun 29

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6/29/2009 10:00 AM  RssIcon

technology-overload.jpgAre you sick of your phone ringing? Do you get tired of looking into the screen of your PC or laptop? Does the Palm or Pre demand more of your time than you prefer?

Well, according to a recent study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, a nonprofit research group in Washington, you may not be alone. The report, written by associate director of research John Horrigan, claims that 7 percent of Americans use the Internet as their primary means of social communication, but they also feel conflicted about that fact. Horrigan calls these individuals "ambivalent networkers." They are so connected, they feel like they can't quit.

The report, titled “The Mobile Difference,” categorizes American adults into 10 different user types. The topology is based on how they feel about information technology, what kind of IT they use and how they use it. Horrigan says some 30 percent of Americans have positive and improving attitudes about their mobile communication devices. The result of which draws them further into engagement with those digital resources.

One key difference between technology uses is the mobile factor. Mobile connectivity is a powerful differential among users. Those who use mobile technology to send and receive information are much more likely to use other digital devices than are those who wait for an Internet jack to be available, or the other 14 percent of Americans who are off the grid entirely.

My first experience with being off the grid took place two years ago. I attended a family reunion in Grove, OK. The state park had nice facilities, and everyone enjoyed their time there — except me.

I arrived all ready to stay connected to the office, ever the working editor — even while on vacation. Once I arrived, the first thing I discovered was that I’d forgotten the laptop’s power cord. No problem, a trip to the local Radio Shack solved that issue.

However, when I returned to my accommodations, I noticed there was no Internet jack. Okay, must be Wi-Fi. Turning on the laptop receiver, I received no signal. With furrowed brow, I sought one of my many cousins, who’s even more techie than I am, and said, “Ken, where’s the Internet?”

He looked at me and just laughed saying, “You didn’t notice? Of course, there is no Internet. There’s not even a phone!”

OMG!

I felt as though I had suddenly been dropped on some South Pacific island with no electricity, gas, water — or Internet. I couldn’t believe that in this day and age, a hotel wouldn’t have guest Internet. I was later informed that there was a pay phone “down at the office.”

That experience taught me a lesson. When making a hotel reservation, look first for Internet service. Only then, consider whether it has a pool, restaurant or athletic facility.

It was with this background that I took the online test from the above Pew research project to see what type of technology user I was classified as. There are 10 categories ranging from the most techie, “Digital Collaborator," to the totally tuned out person, “Technology Indifferent." I turned out to be a desktop veteran, a miduser category.

Check out the link. Then, next time you’re feeling stressed, ask yourself if it’s because of technology.

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