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June 14, 2010

What sort of Internet fanatic are you? (Myers-Briggs version)

Many of us have taken the Myers-Briggs test to determine exactly what type of personality we have. It places us along four dichotomies: Introversion-Extraversion, Sensing-Intuition, Thinking-Feeling, Judgment-Perception. You can express your personality type by using the first letter of the dominant element of each polarity (with an N for intuition since Introversion in a rather extraverted way claimed dibs on the I).

I propose three dichotomies that define your sort of Net personality. I’ll define each by its extreme expression:

1. Exceptionalist (E) vs. Ordinarist (O). Exceptionalists believe that the Internet is exceptional, extraordinary, and disruptive, the way, say, the printing press was. Ordinarists believe that the Internet is just another new medium, no more revolutionary than, say, CB radio.

2. Technodeterminist (T) vs. Contextualist (C). Technodeterminists believe that the Net by itself brings about transformations against which it is futile to struggle. Contextualists believe that technology by itself does nothing and changes nothing; other factos determine the effects of technology.

3. Optimist (H) vs. Pessimist (P). Optimists believe that the Net is, or brings about, good things. Pessimists believe otherwise. (Note: Since everyone believes their beliefs are true, everyone thinks they are a realist. When someone actively asserts s/he is a realist, s/he is actually asserting a form of counter-optimism, i.e., pessimism.) (Note: The “H” stands for Happiness or Hope.

I’d love to get a fourth dichotomy for symmetry with Myers-Briggs. Let me know if you can think of one. People who see the Net as a tool or as a world? People who see the Net as a participatory space or as a communication medium?

For the record, I am ETH, although I am a very weak T. Nicholas Carr is (as I read his book) a strong ETP. Ethan Zuckerman, danah boyd and Larry Lessig are, I believe, ECH’s. Seth Finklestein may be a OCP, although I think he would be a weak O.

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