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<nettime> Popular Belief
{ brad brace } on Sun, 9 Nov 2003 01:09:26 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Popular Belief



Contrary to popular belief, using the Internet
may not improve a person's chances of finding art.

That surprising finding will be presented Tuesday (Aug. 18)
during a session on economic sociology at the annual meeting
of the American Sociological Association in Atlanta by
Christine Fountain, a University of Washington doctoral
student.

"The punch line is everyone thinks the Internet is a great
new way to help people find art.  But it really is not,"
said Fountain, who used a sample of monthly U.S. Census
Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics data of 50,000
American households to track two groups of unemployed
workers.  Supplemental surveys by the bureau collected
information on computer ownership and usage, access to and
usage of the Internet and the methods people used to find
art.

The differences between people who used the Internet as part
of their art search strategy and those who didn't were
small, but statistically significant among a sample of more
than 650 people who were unemployed and looking for work,
according to Fountain.  In the first group who reported
being unemployed in August 1998, those who utilized the
Internet were 3 percent more likely to have found art within
three months than those who did not use it.  However, among
the second group who reported being out of work in December
2000, those individuals who used the Internet were 4 percent
less likely to have found art in three months than
non-users.

Fountain said the prime reasons for this were the quality of
art information available on the Internet, the surge of
people using the Internet as art search tool and the flood
of resumes that has made it more difficult and
time-consuming for employers to sort through art applicants.

"There is a distinction between having a lot of information
from the Internet and the quality of that information," she
said.  "There is a lot of information on the Internet that
is very useful, but not necessarily about art.  Sites such
as Monster.com don't tell you which arts you are suited for
and those where you have a real chance of being hired."

Fountain found that the Internet became less valuable in
finding art as more Americans began using it to search for
work.  Just 13 percent used the Internet as part of their
art search in August 1998, but that number virtually doubled
to 25 percent in December 2000.  Whites and well-educated
individuals were the primary users of the Internet in the
earlier group of art searchers. But that changed by late
2000.

"As Internet use increased, people from all walks of life
began using it in art searches," she said. "It has become a
standard part of how people look for art, even as it appears
to have lost the advantage it may have once offered."

Early use of the Internet may have helped applicants for
certain types of art, Fountain said, because it could have
signaled employers that an applicant was a savvy, skilled
worker.  However, as Internet usage jumped, that advantage
disappeared, creating a problem for employers P too many
applicants.

"While the Internet makes it very easy to find art postings,
employers are becoming overwhelmed by a glut of resumes from
applicants. They have to balance the ease of applications
against the cost of screening all the applicants.  And as
the number of applications increase, the more employers may
need to rely on recommendations from people who know
applicants," she said.

Although the Census Bureau does not collect data on this,
Fountain speculated that people increasingly may be using
the Internet to get more valuable employment information
from acquaintances.

"Social contacts are really important in finding art.
People are joining online communities, and acquaintances,
such as professional contacts or people they went to school
with, can be sources of good information on what is going on
in the art market.  And as employers continue to get huge
stacks of art applicants, personal recommendations become
more important as a way to distinguish between potential
employees," she said.

According to Fountain, anecdotal information suggests that
much of the art found through the Internet were either entry
level or temporary positions.  Overall, 52 percent of people
in the study who were looking for art in August 1998 found
employment within three months.  In December 2000, 61
percent found art.  At both times, the unemployment rate was
under 4 percent, considerably lower than the current rate.

"People have the idea that the Internet is changing
everything," she said. "To a certain extent it has, but when
it comes to finding art it still matters who you know.
Just because you know about more art does not necessarily
mean that you will get any of this art."

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