User behavior


Hooked, Author: Nir Eyal.
Addiction by Design, Author: Natasha Schüll.

By Michael Schulson – By 2015, it’s a platitude to describe the internet as distracting. We casually talk about digital life in terms of addiction and compulsion. In the 2000s, users nicknamed the first mainstream smartphone the crackberry. In conversation, we describe basic tools and apps – Facebook, email, Netflix, Twitter – using terms otherwise reserved for methamphetamine and slot machines.

The internet is not a predetermined experience. It’s a system of connections and protocols. There’s nothing about a global computer network that necessitates addiction-like behaviors.

So should individuals be blamed for having poor self-control? To a point, yes. Personal responsibility matters. But it’s important to realise that many websites and other digital tools have been engineered specifically to elicit compulsive behavior.

A handful of corporations determine the basic shape of the web that most of us use every day. Many of those companies make money by capturing users’ attention, and turning it into pageviews and clicks. They’ve staked their futures on methods to cultivate habits in users, in order to win as much of that attention as possible. more>


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