March 25th, 2011

?!

How much time do you spend online?

I received this email from a staff member and thought I would share.

Is it just me or is this frequently-asked question on surveys increasingly meaningless?

The presumption is that “being online” is a specifically identifiable activity, like “brushing your teeth”, whose start and end points can be determined. Like most of you, I am “online” most of the time. Computers at home and at work, iPhone in between. But I don’t think I “go online”. Online is just a tool I use to do a range of things (communicate with people, find work-related information, pursue a hobby etc). It is these things on which I “spend time” not the nebulous “being online”.

Why doesn’t anyone ask the equivalent questions about “pre-Internet” activities? Like “how much time do you spend reading pieces of paper?” “how much time do you spend writing with a biro”? “how much time do you spend talking to people?”.