Web behavior is an emerging science that has grown in conjunction with the Internet, and looks at the way in which people behave in that world. At least, that is according to researchers at The Virtual Revolution, a collaborative effort led by the British Broadcasting Corporation, who have dubbed this branch of science and sought to study it. Spurred by the 20 year anniversary of the World Wide Web, scientists have developed the Web Behaviour Test, an experiment to identify the different ways in which people use the Internet.
The WBT is one of many surveys and games to partake in at the Virtual Revolution site, but it excels greatly in terms of enjoyment and accessibility. The appeal is twofold: firstly, the program satisfies an innate need of so many web users to be identified and cataloged into a specific type of thing; in this case it is a web animal. One doesn’t need to search for too long before coming across popular applications asking, “What type of X are you?” The second appeal is that this test is directly related to science; it is created by and for researchers. This not only lends legitimacy to the process and outcome, but it contributes to the scientific realm known simply known as discovery.
Register at the site, without cost, take the 20 minute exercise, and discover your web behavior. The test asks you to rate the ways in which you multitask, demonstrate how you go about conducting research on the web, and complete puzzles amid distraction. Don’t be upset if the results are not what you are hoping for, as the program is quick to point out that rarely are humans as efficient and successful as they lead themselves to believe.
While the animal identifier may seem random, it is relevant, offering a clever symbolic representation on how one operates. The results are compiled into three dichotomies: adaptable or specialized; fast-moving or slow-moving, and social or solitary. Animals aside, the test is the ideal way to gain perspective on exactly how, and to what degree of success, you use the web.
In the end the research will be compiled and released, with the hope of determining what, if any, downsides there are to the web, how people handle information, and whether or not web users are fundamentally different than non web users. The program argues that in such a short time, we’ve gone from information blindness to information affluence, and perhaps many of us don’t realize how we’ve come to adapt to what is indeed a massive transition.