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"If you like surfing the web, it is probably because you believe people are basically good."
October 8, 2002 9:28 AM   Subscribe

"If you like surfing the web, it is probably because you believe people are basically good." That's the Economist interpreting the results of a recent study by IBM researchers of how cultural characteristics apparently affect people's readiness to adopt new communications technologies.
posted by mattpfeff (19 comments total)

 
Actually, I think most people like surfing the web because they believe people are basically naked. And teenage.

At least that's why I do it.....

posted by lumpenprole at 9:34 AM on October 8, 2002


Even when controlled for other variables, such as the number of computers, trust remains an important factor.

Besides, it is not clear what the World Values Survey question actually reveals.

I'm not sure I trust this research. "The Internet: fostering a healthy cynicism."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:12 AM on October 8, 2002


I don't know... I like surfing the web, and I usually want to give people the benefit of a doubt, which might be translated into believing that people are basically good; however, this little note (which appears to be one of the few available references to the study) indicates to me that this research was done from a marketing point of view, probably at the behest of IBM... so, while I'll give these people the benefit of a doubt, until I see more background I'm definitely taking this with a rock of salt.
posted by taz at 10:18 AM on October 8, 2002


Sorry, lumpenprole; I missed your second link!
posted by taz at 10:22 AM on October 8, 2002


I hate people, including myself. That's why I spend so much time on the web, to get away from people and escape into solitary activities like web surfing, television and books.
posted by disgruntled at 10:23 AM on October 8, 2002


um...sorry mattpfeff . Some days, you should just stay in bed...
posted by taz at 10:24 AM on October 8, 2002


Surfing the web may have somewhat degraded my view of human nature. I now view most humans as a weirdly incurious lot. Surfing has reinforced my sense that 1) most people don't have a clue, 2) that basic intelligence isn't the problem: most don't WANT to find out - conservatism or just plain ol' laziness. This is far more true than it used to be. The Net makes information gathering simple, but few make an effort to take advantage of this - probably too glued to the TV or surfing porn 3) there are various interest groups, government and private (not to mention the vast shadowy global conspiracies...boogah, boogah) who employ large numbers of spooks, thugs, and ideologically devoted, pasty nebishes who work overtime grinding out PR and propaganda and figuring complex schemes to manipulate, hoodwink or steal vast amounts of money from the public.

So it goes. The coming mini ace age will clean up the mess quite nicely, I imagine (hint: Google "Woods Hole", or "ocean circulation", or to get technical, "nonlinear climate shift".)
posted by troutfishing at 11:36 AM on October 8, 2002


this little note (which appears to be one of the few available references to the study) indicates to me that this research was done from a marketing point of view, probably at the behest of IBM

It's an IBM study, but I'm fairly confident that their research department doesn't report to anyone in marketing. For sure, it's an industry-related issue; they're trying to find ways to address the digital divide. But that doesn't mean it's bad science (though I think there's plenty to wonder about the results. E.g., Is there another psychological factor that sometimes happens to accompany this "trust" they measured that can better correlate to Internet use? And, is it lack of trust that's inhibiting communications technology adoption, or is it lack of money, with low technology adoption inhibiting trust?).

On the other hand, whether or not they got the answer right, it's interesting that they even asked the question.
posted by mattpfeff at 11:43 AM on October 8, 2002


Isn't this a too simplistic a consideration of Internet usage? How much trust does it take to read the newspaper on line (those that don't require registration of course), research a school assignment or read up on a hobby?

Of course, there are those who are absurdly cautious, and I think this comes from a lack of familiarity with the technology and its workings rather than a lack of trust. I have not been able to convince my father that one can safely cruise the Net without ever being forced to view child pornography.
posted by orange swan at 11:56 AM on October 8, 2002


Correlation doesn't have to indicate causation.

Another explanation for the results of the study could be that those who happen to want to read a newspaper online are also those who happen to believe that people are basically good. Or that those who master the technology also happen to believe in the basic goodness of people.

There could be an underlying developmental or psychological principle at work.

Or it could be hogwash.
posted by goethean at 12:08 PM on October 8, 2002


"If you like surfing the web, it is probably because you believe people are basically good."

Whomever wrote that never read some of the threads here on Metafilter.
posted by crunchland at 12:15 PM on October 8, 2002


Thanks for pointing this out Matt, and interesting way to think of the internet.

Of course, I think that the trust issue may be important when it comes to online commerce. But when it comes as a means of communicating with other individuals, I think sometimes those in low trust societies can benefit the most from the internet, and often do. I have travelled in Africa, and have constantly been amazed at the amount of internet prevelence in extremely poor countries. Not that peopl own computers or the like, but the profusion of internet cafes, always crowded and lively. People are in these places not to order from JCrew.com, but to communicate with other individuals in a secure (to them, from countries with unaffordable and shoddy phone links and decrepit postal systems) and anonymous manner.
posted by pjgulliver at 12:35 PM on October 8, 2002


Many of you right now are surfing the web. It is because you are crazy....
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:11 PM on October 8, 2002


i surf the web because i'm a print junkie. if something has words on it, i'll read it. when i first saw the web, i was reminded of a song in an old john wayne flick:

If the ocean was whiskey and i was a duck,
i'd swim to the bottom and drink my way up!

posted by quonsar at 3:50 PM on October 8, 2002


lol @ quonsar.

troutfish, *we* aren't *that* dumb. In my vague estimation of MeFi surfer abilities, that is. [peers around]

Well, I believe in the good people. And it is only because of the people and the possibilities that I was ever drawn to technology..
posted by firestorm at 4:23 PM on October 8, 2002


"If you like surfing the web, it is probably because you believe people are basically good."
Whomever wrote that never read some of the threads here on Metafilter.


Or any of the threads on MetaTalk.
posted by dg at 4:53 PM on October 8, 2002


I believe that people are basically stupid. I surf the Web to get away from the stupidity of the real world.
posted by kindall at 5:29 PM on October 8, 2002


I love all of you, you good decent people.
posted by Slagman at 5:42 PM on October 8, 2002


What's trust got to do, got to do, got to do with it?
posted by SpaceCadet at 5:48 PM on October 8, 2002


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