Friday, March 19, 2010

Virtual Revolution - web test results

The Virtual Revolution test is actually quite in-depth and very much interactive, rather than being a linear "mostly A's"/"mostly B's" type of affair you usually get.
It's also very headwrecking in places.

In the show it claimed that younger people are generally more likely to skim and "go with the crowd" as far as information is concerned, something I think is potentially dangerous. They're also more prone to distraction. Whereas older people tend to take their time when making decisions and sourcing information.
Not surprisingly I'm someplace in between.

I'm a Web Leopard, apparently. I'm extremely fast and quick at finding information (I've had a lot of practice, of course) but I generally prefer to source information directly and don't trust "social sources". I guess, whilst I'm sure they include Twitter et all under that umbrella, specifically that means Wikipedia, a site which I always take with a grain of salt.

In the test I went to a government site for information on certain questions. That doesn't necessarily mean I trust governments any more than I do Wikipedia, but when it comes to science I'm more inclined to seek information from peer-reviewed sources that can be proven or debunked by learned professionals than ones where anyone can add or edit information. It isn't that I don't trust Wikipedia, on the contrary I find it an invaluable resource that I use quite regularly. If I were asked another question, like say, to research a question on the theory of gravity I would find Wikipedia the fastest way of getting that information but I would be wary of trusting its authority on more divisive things like the theory of evolution (for all I know it could have been edited by an Intelligent Design advocate just seconds before I got there) or the endlessly debated issue of climate change.

It's the same with the news. I'd trust a respected broadsheet before I ever trust a tabloid. I'd trust the BBC more than I'd trust Sky and CNN before Fox. You probably detect a not so subtle bias against Newscorp there, but that's because I value peer-reviewed journalism that lists sources and facts far more than I would those with an obvious bias. In Murdoch's case the bias is clearly in favour of Freedmanite economics and conservative political opinion best illustrated by his open support of both Reagan and Thatcher during the 1980s. American news network MSNBC, meanwhile, is widely regarded as the "liberal" network, perhaps partly as a cynical ploy to gain market share.

Of course in the United States it's all about the spectacle, so from Michael Moore on the left to Glen Beck on the right, differences of opinion always much more voluble and pronounced. Truth is, of course, that all mainstream media sources, to some extent or another, have to "sell" the news and are all guilty of spin and sensationalism to some degree or another. Just ask Charlie Brooker... (NSFW)

Anyways, that media-related digression aside, I found the information-sourcing aspect most interesting part of the test. It tested me, firstly, on where to get the information, secondly how to get that information and what questions/queries/search terms to use and finally how I evaluated that information, whether or not I found it trustworthy and whether I was satisfied with the results it gave me.

Now I didn't score all that high on the "multitasking" aspects which surprised me somewhat. Then again I did do this test after a day's work, when my multitasking muscles were already quite strained. (I shudder to think what Doctor Kawashima would have to say about it.)

I'd say if I done it first thing tomorrow morning with a skull-full of caffeine I might have scored a lot higher. Then again, though, the multitasking-specific tests require a lot of parallel concentration and some people are just better at it than others. So, unless you're an air traffic controller or a driver in the Formula 1, not scoring too high on it isn't necessarily the end of the world.

I know people who are quite capable of reading a book with a movie on in the background and not only do they not find this distracting, they're able to follow both, whereas I always find it's better to concentrate on one thing at a time, toggling through tasks token ring style, e.g. if A doesn't answer the phone I move onto task B. Because at the end of the day no matter how swift a multitasker you might be, if you're trying to write a letter or a piece of code whilst skimming emails and talking to someone on the phone at the same time, the person on the other end will notice it.

It's not just about concentration, either, so much as it is about courtesy. After all, in business today it's vital to be constantly in touch via phone, web and email but who wants to give a presentation to a room full of people endlessly flipping through their iPhones and Crackberries?

Rather than being a natural multitasker, I'm instead a "specialist".
I'm glad to see that. I guess in this day and age it could well be an advantage to be able to do lots of different types of things, at least personally. But at the end of the day companies aren't looking to employ anyone who's "done a little of this and a little of that" and you'll never see a "Wanted: Jack of All Trades" job advertised. They're always specific positions looking for a specific specialist in any given field, additional experience an advantage but not necessary.

In an age with so much information on tap, the temptation is to try and learn as much as one can, or worse, to try and just get by skimming various websites and bluffing one's way from one job to the next, but never actually mastering anything. In the last episode one interviewee made the point that, when you go to a doctor, you want to entrust your health to someone who's studied for years and read countless books cover to cover, not someone who's just skimmed over a load of websites. And that's true, I believe, of every industry.

This is an era of mass information and mass globalisation, one effective way stand out from the rest is to become a trusted authority within a specific field, to think with an SEO mindset and reduce your services to a precise set of keywords as you work towards carving out your own specialist niche.

Anyways, enough prattling on, I've gone off on enough tangents for today. I'm going to do the most important thing that every virtual revolutionary must do each day, I'm going to shut my computer down and disconnect.

Have a go at the test, I'd be interested to hear what other's have to say about it and what different animals are in this tiny Blogger menagerie.

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Seo company India said...

Like your writing! & the Weblopard is looking Awesome......