Internet user trends are significantly changing
April 25, 2011
by Mark Ollig

“Where are we, where are we going?”

This is the question headlined on the Pew Internet & American Life Project’s report, presented during the 44th annual APLIC conference, in Washington, DC.

APLIC (a global network of population information professionals) says it represents “a forum for sharing professional interests, experience and knowledge.”

Kristin Purcell is the research director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

During the APLIC conference, Purcell shared survey information collected by Pew, regarding Internet user trends during the past 10 years.

Pew reported less than 20 percent of us were watching videos over the Internet in 2000.

By 2010, this number had climbed to 66 percent.

Only 46 percent of all adults were using the Internet in 2000, as compared with 71 percent in 2010.

Pew states today’s online access to news and information has become, “abundant, cheap, personally-oriented and designed for participation.”

According to Pew, we are now in a new information “ecology” where the lines between “news” and “information” have become somewhat blurred.

The 2010 Pew survey results reported adults obtained their news from multiple sources, or platforms, such as; print newspapers, television, radio, and of course, the Internet.

Pew says six out of every 10 adults with online access use the Internet as their news platform.

Our online information content consumption has evolved to where information is easily accessible, and individually personalized. We are also finding ourselves becoming active contributors in the creation of this content.

Many of us using the Internet have, in fact, become “news and information participators” by means of our personal blogs, Twitter messages, personalized web pages, and various online social networks.

Pew revealed 37 percent of Internet users in 2010 contributed news and other content, made comments on various stories or topics, and, discussed news within their online social networks.

More of us are customizing what news and information we want to see “harvested” and delivered to our Internet home pages and blogs.

The 2010 Pew Internet Survey shows 35 percent of those polled have a favorite online news source.

What may not be surprising to some folks is Pew acknowledging recent studies showing 70 percent of adults feel “overwhelmed” by the amount of news and information content available to them over the Internet.

In a 2011 tracking survey conducted by Pew, they found 85 percent of all adults own a cell phone, and one-quarter of all US households are now using cell phones instead of corded phones.

Back in 2000, no one was using a wireless mobile device to access the Internet.

In 2010, with 59 percent of adults wirelessly accessing the Internet using mobile devices, cell phones, tablets or laptops, it was the young folks, age 18 to 29, who led with 84 percent.

Of young adults, age 18 to 29, who were surveyed in November 2010, Pew found 14 percent of them using the Twitter online social network, while all adults, age 18 and over, averaged 8 percent.

So, what is the answer to the “Where are we, where are we going” question?

In this humble columnist’s opinion, the previous decade of the Internet has seen it evolve into a venue being used today as not just a one-way knowledge gateway medium; but as a venue where many of us have become active participants and contributors.

We have been furthering our own learning and understanding of ourselves, our surroundings, our government, and each other, as well as continuously re-inventing how the Internet is being used.

The Internet will eventually become the dominant medium, surpassing the traditional starting places we have used in the past for obtaining news, information, conducting commerce, communicating, and when seeking entertainment.

The Internet will continue to encompass more of our daily lives as the online venue from which we pursue our leisure, learning, and interactions with others, and, for some of us, the Internet will become the venue we go to in order to earn a living.

All of us have witnessed the remarkable upsurge in the use and popularity of online social networking sites.

Social sharing networking sites like, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, along with live-streaming video broadcasting platforms, such as Ustream, Livestream and Justin.tv, are bringing everyone closer together – not just in this country, but throughout the world.

As we journey towards the end of the next decade, we will find our online time spent within a more personally interconnecting, friendlier (and hopefully equally accessible to all), robust Internet.

The Internet will continue to be comprised of networks; hardware and software immersed in an ever-expanding “sky” containing “clouds of data” constantly acquiring, storing, and redistributing information amongst themselves. Portions of this data content will be created, shared and consumed by us, and our electronic devices.

All of this will be taking place within an intelligently controlled semantic Web.

Did I mention this journey will be a lot of fun, too?

We are on course . . . so stay tuned.

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