• Has the Internet changed the way we think? The effect of the network on user behaviour

    Tom Pink (see profile)
    CityLIS, Digital Humanists, Library & Information Science
    Digital communication, Internet sociology, Library and information science
    Item Type:
    City, University of London
    information retrival, memory, the internet, user needs
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    This project investigated the potential impact that Internet use is having on behavioural and cognitive abilities, in particular the effects that it may be having on; user memory and recall; concentration levels; perceptions of what it means to be ‘online’ and whether there has become a blurring of the boundaries between the ‘virtual’ and the ‘real’. The project used a focus group to collect primary data from LIS professionals on their opinions to these questions and analysed the results from a constant comparative stance. The project found that there was agreement from both the literature and LIS professionals that Internet use was changing how users memorised and recalled information, in that it presents itself as the ultimate transactive memory partner – a process whereby individuals outsource their memory to others, knowing that they can retrieve it at a later date. There was consensus from both the literature and focus group participants that more research was needed in order more comprehensively understand any effects taking place and their impact. It found that concentration was felt to be lessened by Internet use by two main factors: the functionality of Internet use, including clicking on hyperlinks, reading text online, scrolling with a trackpad, etc. as well as the informational content presented through advertisements and other information designed to draw users away to other webpages as well as the amount of information presented to users. There were arguments investigated for and against whether the boundaries between on- and offline had become blurred, but it was noted by LIS professionals that they still felt it important to distinguish between ‘virtual’ and ‘physical’ informational arenas, both for work and leisure purposes.
    Last Updated:
    6 years ago


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