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The Myth of the Typical User

Here’s a nice visualization of “typical.”

Most typical face on the planet

7 Billion: Are You Typical? — National Geographic Magazine (2:56 minutes)

I’ve entitled this post “The Myth of the Typical User” because I hear so many librarian colleagues talking about typical users – – – and then basing decisions on that identification.

This is an interesting visual about how statistical typical’ness isn’t that helpful.

How can we build an understanding of the various markets, groups, demographics our libraries serve?

In particular, my insght for a while has been that the virtual user differs strongly from the on-site user in libraries. Are we making decisions about our virtual presence that is driven by an understanding of the people we meet in person, or do we have a good profile of the online visitor, user, clicker?

Oh, and the same thing goes for phrases like typical student, typical kid, typical senior, etc. And the same thing goes for words like average, median, etc. Statistics are helpful but they cut both ways.


Posted on: March 7, 2011, 6:47 am Category: Uncategorized

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