November 21, 2008

User attitudes vary about broken – and healthy – technologies

While in a recent report we discussed the malaise of some users when their technology fails, we have found in previous reports that negative feelings are not isolated to broken gadgets – some users are reluctant to engage even with healthy technology.

On the other hand, some users are confident fixers of broken devices and eager testers of new gadgets and applications.

Originally – here in our technology bubble at the Pew Internet Project – we were surprised at how many users said they needed help learning to use new devices. How could half (48%) of technology-using adults really not figure out how to work a cell phone? And did 15% of users really just give up trying to fix their broken devices at all?

On second thought, however, these results weren’t all that surprising. As John Horrigan told the Baltimore Sun, the idea for this study stemmed from the results of a May 2007 report about the different types of information technology users. The typology we developed found clear differences between the “elite tech users” making up 31% of the adult population, the “middle-of-the-road tech users” who are 20% of the population, and those with “few tech assets” totaling 49% of American adults. Even within these broad groups of technology users we saw marked differences in the gadgets Americans owned, how they used them, and how they felt about them.

Learn more about the different tech user typologies here: A Typology of Information Technology Users.

Keep an eye out for an updated report on user typology later this year, and in the mean time see what kind of information technology user you are!