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December 29, 2003

Internet and Real Life™

Since early 2000 the PEW Charitable Trust has a research group called 'Internet and American Life' that collects data on how the Internet is used in American households. Their reports are great sources of information of how the Internet integrates into daily life, what online activities people daily as well as occasionally. They have reported on various specific issues (e.g. online access to research news during the Iraq war) and make their data sets available for research.

Last week the group released its report on the changing use of the Internet in America based on datasets of early 2000 and 2003. A lot of things have changed in these year, and even more change is to come. In the words of the editor of the report in today's New York Times:

"One day, we’ll look back on these days of Google searches as laughably simplistic."

Over this 3 year period there is still significant growth (avg. 47%), in Internet usage, although it is somewhat flattening out. It is interesting to see that some of the  may be triggered by specific applications such as online banking, which has seen a growth of 127%.

Some of the information appears stereotypical: seniors search for health information, a 'disproportional large group' of women research health and religious info,  men mainly look for news, and sports and financial information, kids use it do to homework and talk to friends.

But the report contains lots of information about issues that are not so obvious, such as significantly different internet usage by the different racial and social demographic groups.

Analysis also shows that some areas of transactional internet usage are maturing to the point that they provide critical services to online Americans. Online banking and auctions are still the solid growth centers. But whatever growth all of these areas show, e-mail remains the killer application with more than 100 million Americans checking their e-mail periodically.

At least you should read the Summary of Findings to get a glimpse or download the PDF version of the report for a really good read about modern American life.

Posted by Werner Vogels at December 29, 2003 11:27 AM
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Comments

I think we're still in the infant ages of the internet. People are just starting to get comfortable being online

Posted by: homer jay on January 7, 2004 07:03 PM