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Roger Hudson presented on taxonomy, social networks and pace layering at Oz-IA 2008. He summarised a survey of 90 people that he did to understand their usage of web tools.  He looked at:

  • Comments on web pages
  • Blogging
  • Tagging
  • Use of video
  • Use of RSS
  • Use of social networks

Of particular interest to me were his findings about the web usage of people who were simply web users and those who were web evangelists (i.e. members of the Web Standards Group in Sydney).  The web evangelists almost always had a blog and a page on a social network. They also contributed to a social networks and wrote on other people’s blogs. They leveraged tags to manage their web content too.  This all means that they are online a lot and therefore more likely to be up to date on the best ways of doing things on the web.

In this way, the evangelists may be more likely to be exposed to the most cutting edge technologies or applications of technologies. They are moving around in the cyberspace networks where the new technologies are most likely to be described and then reviewed by peers.

Roger then went on to describe how traditionally business people have had the most influence on what technology people could use and how it could be used. However, these days the end users, whether they be normal users or evangelists, have much more influence over how the technology is designed.

Pace Layering in web dev

This model puts the feedback from web users and evangelists, though online mechanisms, at he end of the line.  Isn’t that too late to get their input?

I have often met web workers, including UI and IA people, who are too busy in their daily jobs to have time or interest in using social networks, RSS, blogs or other new applications.  So why should we leave it to them to come up with cool websites?  

Surely better technology is created (and recreated) when evangelists are involved at the strategy end of the process?  If they are not, then how people who are too busy doing their own job (normal users) possibly know what is available to them and how it should be executed.

If you are a busy web user, then I reckon you ought to be engaging a web evangelist early (and often) so that you can be innovative or at least know that what you will appeal to people in the not to distant future.

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