Routines and the Predictability of Web Use
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Description: Given the high importance of Web use in day-to-day life, understanding and predicting Web browsing behavior are important endeavors for academic as well as commercial research. We propose that routines—behaviors that are performed regularly (activation) and in similar ways (execution)—can be used to describe underlying structures in Web use and, thereby, improve the predictability of subsequent Web use behavior. Based on two large-scale Web-tracking data sets, we developed indicators for routine activation and execution, tested their reliability and stability, and examined their association with the predictability of six Web use behaviors: overall Web use, news use, shopping, Facebook, YouTube, and Google use. Our results show that routine measures derived from tracking data were only moderately reliable but very stable. Routine activation was consistently and substantially associated with higher predictability for all Web use behaviors, whereas routine execution was less consistently and not strongly linked to predictability.