Adam Carstens from the Attention Company emailed today to tell me about some new research they've just published. It's a report entitled “Out There” and surveys the attitudes of people who participate in online communities. Here is the report as a PDF.
I'd not heard of them before, but the Attention Company is made up of smart people - and they've written some good books about the Internet in the recent past.
The main findings of the report were that people who are “Out There” are more likely to:
- Value fame as an “asset”
- Willing to share certain types of sensitive information on the web
- Believe it is appropriate to criticize their organizations on the web
- Believe that “organizations need to be more transparent to succeed”
- Believe “there’s no harm in openly discussing the work I do inside my organization with others”
The report concludes that "Out There" people are potential saviors of companies, because they are the people who are going to help companies succeed. "Out There" people are characterized as:
- Fast followers
- More flexible
- Open communicators
- Aspire to greatness
- Looking for new, innovative ideas
- In short – your future leaders
The above is from page 14 of the report and is followed by this warning to companies who employ "Out There" people: "Any attempt to control it ham-handedly will only lead to excessive blowback." Which I thought was a cool way to put it :-) Blowback btw means 'unintended consequences'.
Note that in the report there are no details about how the research was gathered. I asked Adam about this and he told me it was an Internet-based survey of 1,500 white-collar professionals in the United States, between the ages 20-65. He said it was a random weighted sample, conducted in July of 2006.
In summary, I would guess that most people who read this blog would characterize themselves as "out there". While it's not a particularly scientific term, my feeling is that these kind of open and innovative thinkers are indeed the driving force in the white collar workforce.
Finally, in his email Adam was kind enough to label me as "way out there" (see, flattery will get you everywhere on Read/WriteWeb!).
UPDATE: Steve Borsch reminded me of his report on a similar topic: Rise of the Participation Culture. It's an excellent high level look at current Web trends, so check it out if you're into this type of research.