Internet speedier to respond, online audience segmentation

I love the raw speed and power of the Internet to mobilize information, resources, and people, faster than (much of) the government or mainstream media:

Blogs and first hand accounts: Metroblogging New Orleans, Survival of New Orleans blog, Katrina Aftermath, N.O. Pundit, Eyes on Katrina (in South Mississippi), Ernie the Attorney, Orbis Quintus, on tender hooks, Josh Britton (in Baton Rouge), disheveled, Slidell Hurricane Damage, (by a Louisiana pastor Dino Rizzo, with video of site visit), Humid City, DeadlyKatrina
Knowledge bases (wiki): Katrina Help wiki, NOLA Intel Wiki of New Orleans is connecting people + information + transportation, while (online photo community) is being mobilized to connect people ->
Found People + Okay People+ Missing People

[update: television and radio are as immediate as the Internet, too; see live video from WDSU and WWL]

live coverage WWL live coverage

[update 2: Search Katrina lists from across the Web – Katrina People Finder courtesy of Yahoo, ht:]

I’d been thinking on how there’s really 2 kinds of Internet users. And when those surveys and polls and studies talk about Internet users, they’re too often lumped together, when it’d be more helpful to recognize distinct segments.

There’s the relational segment (for lack of a better term). These Internet users actively use the Web, these people live online, active participant in online communities, sometimes referred to as netizens or cyber culture savvy or whatever. Email, websites, IMs, podcast, vlog, blog, message boards, chat room, moblog, wikis are all common venacular (though not every one of them would use every online tool). Relational Internet users have friends who are merely online, and also those who know them in person.

Then there’s the transactional segment. This is the majority of people who use the Internet, and use it as a tool to get what they want and not much else. These are the people who have made it possible for commercial dot-com success. These are people who use the Internet to loosely connect with people they already know.

The relational segment can go online, and almost see the Internet as a place. Various tools help them to move around in that space, do their business, as well as relate to other people in that place. The transactional segment can go online, use the Internet tools to enhance and serve their everyday tangible & concrete life. And they stop there.

Here’s another way to say it, from an Inc. magazine article, Why I Read Business Blogs:

I always thought the term cyberspace was a bit strained. As wondrous as the Net has proved to be, I never bought that it was really a space. To me it was just another medium, a means of transmitting things. Your basic webpage isn’t different from a page in a magazine or catalog, and bulletin boards and chatrooms are somehow always too linear to be truly dynamic. EBay is often touted as a community, but I’ve logged many eBay hours and bought a lot of kitschy lamps without ever feeling that I was doing anything other than shopping in my pajamas.

But I now feel that there is a “there” there. As soon as I grew comfortable navigating my way through the complexities of the blogosphere, I realized that I was beginning to find my way back to the same places over and over again. I was mingling, networking, unconsciously working the room as if at a cocktail party.

I feel a little sad that most of the people I know in real life do not use the Internet relationally. But, maybe, relational Internet users are not so few and marginalized. According to this Pew Internet & American Life Study, as high as 19% of people may be among the relational segment of Internet users. (quoted by What Ever Happened to Unchurched Harry and Mary)

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