Saturday, April 21, 2007

Persona No. 2, class assignment


Edward Durham, aka Mojo Nojo on the forum boards, zip code 55410, a neighbor of Robert Schroeder's at Cindy's blog. He's buying and renovating an older Victorian house near Scott Kennedy, zip code 55105, at Gerry's blog.

Age/education/health: 70, retired, has artificial knees, occasional bouts of arthritis, wears reading glasses that seem to get weaker every day
Gender/family lifecycle stage:
older male, third marriage, three grown children. The closest one is his son, who has three children of his own, in a small town about an hour north. His son visits about once a month to work with his dad on the renovation project.
Location and housing type: Mid-size single family home, working on renovating a large Victorian.
Occupation: Retired contractor, retired antique shop owner, retired small grocery owner; bachelor's degree, highly skilled with all kinds of building, accounting and marketing; freelance blogger.
Social class: Working/middle class family. Has been an entrepreneur running his own businesses since about 1972, has always believed in the power of taking risks in order to earn money, strongly committed to personal responsibility. His dad died when he was 15, and everything he's achieved since then has been through his own hard work.
Personality: Outgoing, driven, a little sad and resigned at the coming of age and far-flung families.
Attitudes: Interested in architecture, antiques, community, politics, the Internet and media. Thinks most media is biased, and didn't embrace this new Internet stuff until he realized it was a way to get his voice heard. Now he's obsessed.
Ethnicity/religion:
White, of Dutch/Norwegian/English heritage. Very proud of his pioneer roots in Minnesota. No organized religion, but strongly embraces Judeo-Christian values, except when they infringe on personal freedoms. Converted to Catholicism briefly for Wife No. 2. Oh well.
Lifestyle motivations: Action-oriented risk taker. Frustrated by his aging body's inability to do as much as he'd like. Traveled across the country numerous times.
Media interests: Loves to hate the local newspapers, to which he subscribes. Reads Time, not Newsweek. Visits the National Rifle Association's website frequently. Reads AARP magazine. Doesn't shop online, doesn't trust the computers to keep his financial information secure. Wife uses Ebay frequently, though, for antique hunting and selling.
Type of computer user: skilled, on Blogger and using various forums, but doesn't like change. Goes to the same places all the time, doesn't seek out new tools or sites. Uses email when he has to, mostly leaves that to his wife, the family communicator. He communicates instead on website forums. Or he has in the past, until one local newspaper blew his forums away and replaced it with newfangled stuff aimed at people NOT like him -- young, hip people.
Type of computer equipment: Desktop PC, circa 2004. Uses Explorer browser, hates that Blogger seems to be trying to get him to change to Firefox. Uses Windows Media Player.
Type of Internet usage: High-speed broadband, but he curses the monthly cost.
User Status: Regular
Usage rate: Heavy
Loyalty Status: Absolute, but easily disappointed and then holds a grudge.
Usage goals: Finding ways to get his voice and experience heard, through forums and his blog. His forum name is Mojo Nojo, and other forum readers come to him for help and advice. He's well respected on the boards, but sometimes cusses and fumes too much.
Emotional goals: Trying to fix this world that's going to hell in a handbasket; connecting with family and his online friends, most of whom he's never met in person.
Task context: Users computer as an individual user, in a bedroom converted into an office. Gets on very early in the morning when he can't sleep, and sometimes late at night when he's had a drink or three.
Accessibility: Some visual impairment because of age, loves the way he can make type bigger these days on most websites. Hates dark-background blogs. Can't sit for long periods of time because of circulation below his artificial knees.

Goals: Finding ways to tell his stories and share his experience. He's learned much over his 70 years, and his children and grandchildren aren't close enough for him to give advice to very frequently. He longs to be heard, and he sees much wrong with the world these days. Maybe if people will just listen, he can make a difference.

Eddie learned to type well when he was a young man and had a stint in the Army Reserves. It's a rare skill for men his age, and it has helped give him an outlet on the Internet that few his age have.
In 2004, his son gave him the PC as a present, a way to do email with his relatives in several faraway cities. He discovered the forums at a local newspaper, and found a way to connect with others and make his points. He loved it, and soon spent hours sitting at the computer, taking breaks to stretch his legs and work his artificial knees.
The forums became a home on the Internet, so when one of the local papers decided to revamp its site to appeal to younger surfers, he felt disrespected. (Not that he would ever use that word that way). He keeps getting the message that as a customer, he's not as valuable as that sweet 18-34 demographic. He's been running his own businesses for years; he understands and respects marketing concepts and the need to make money, but as an individual, he thinks it's absolutely wrong for society to quit listening to its elders. He knows from personal experience that they have much knowledge.
So when the newspaper website blew away all his 6,000 postings, he created his own blog, teaching himself the software. He didn't spend too much time on its appearance, and he didn't have to. He felt it was the words that were valuable, and the links to other websites that echoed his own opinions. People need to read this stuff, he felt, and it has to be legible and easy to comment on, but beyond that, he doesn't want bells and whistles.
Since then, he's used the blog to point out the many inaccuracies and oversights at the local papers, and he still sometimes posts to their new forums. When he seizes an idea, he's a bulldog when it comes to searching on the web to find out all the facts that he can, and he's developed a following among some of the old forum users. About 100 of them have migrated to his blog from the newspaper's site, and about 20 of those are active posters. Some have even created their own blogs at his urging, and they actively link among themselves.
Some people at forums have criticized his postings in the past, because he calls it as he sees it, just like he would if he were actually sitting in a local bar. If those other folks don't like his language, his jokes or his opinions, they can just go somewhere else. As he did. He's hoping this new Twin Cities Paper will find a way to recreate forums for his already-active online community, and maybe his blog can get some publicity out of it. That Adsense money helps buy paint for the house he's renovating.
Why he's important to Twincities.com: He's a leader in an online community, and he possibly has 10 to 20 more years of active forum and blogging use. While he's beyond the target market of many current online advertisers, his demographic, if measured carefully through analytic software, would be great for small hardware stores, Home Depot and Lowes. His need for simplicity can help site designers keep a check on their bells and whistles, if he's given a way to get feedback to those designers.

3 comments:

gercohenJoMC712 said...

I'll bring my pickup truck over and help with the renovations
-Scott

A. T. Kelso said...

Gosh, this man is busy! He has taken on a lot with the renovations. I'm amazed he has time to spend on the computer reading anything!

Andria said...

Actually, he's a combination of my dad and some of those angry obsessed posters that haunt the N&O forums. Was trying to figure out those posters, and seeing them through the lens of my dad helped a ton.