An analysis of the information behaviors, goals, and intentions of frequent Internet users: Findings from online activity diaries

Beth St. Jean, Soo Young Rieh, Yong-Mi Kim, Ji Yeon Yang


Using a method that combines the Experience Sampling Method (Kubey, et al., 1996) and the diary survey method, we surveyed frequent Internet users about their online activities, along with their interest, confidence, and satisfaction in regard to these activities. A link to an online survey was sent to respondents five times a day for three consecutive days. The results reported here are based on 2,656 diary forms submitted by 417 respondents. Through inductive analysis of respondents’ open–ended accounts of their activities, we identified four information activity dimensions — information object, information behavior, goal, and intention. The results reveal that younger respondents were more likely than older respondents to mention that they engage in online activities with the intention of sharing or evaluating information, while older respondents more frequently mentioned the intentions of gathering data and keeping up to date. Respondents reported spending more time on traditional types of online activities (such as reading) and were more confident in their ability to conduct these types of activities. However, they also reported spending considerable amounts of time on more participatory types of activities, such as creating content and commenting on content. Furthermore, they often rated their interest and satisfaction levels higher when their goals and intentions for their activities were more social in nature and thus more characteristic of Web 2.0 activities, such as connecting with people, self–expression, and sharing. Respondents’ goals and intentions for their activities, as well as their interest, confidence, and satisfaction with various types of online activities, along with the relative amount of time they spent on various types of online activities and the locations from which they conducted these activities, all proved to be important factors to consider when attempting to reach a better understanding of people’s online activities. The contribution of this study lies in the unique data collection and analysis methods that we used in order to reach a better understanding of their online activities across multiple information activity dimensions.


online activities; everyday life information activities; Web 2.0; user interest, confidence, and satisfaction; user goals and intentions

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