Blogging Alone – Social Isolation and New Technology from Pew

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about any of the Pew Reports coming out. I’d like to mention that when I was finishing the copy edits on my book, they replaced every instance of “Pew says…” with “The Center says…” so, sorry about that. I vacillate about feeling like Pew tells it like it is, offering research instead of punditry about internet topics. Their researched conclusions so closely match many of my (knee-jerk) own, I wonder if they’re not more internet boosters than I can see with my own biases and blinders. The upshot of this survey: increased internet use is not making Americans more isolated.

In any case, their new report Pew Internet Social Isolation and New Technology is my second lengthy read for today. Be sure to read the interesting side note The GSS Controversy in which they consider that using the verb “discuss” to refer to people communicating with others may have eliminated non-talking options form people’s minds [i.e. texting and emailing].

Some have worried that internet use limits people’s participation in their local communities, but we find that most internet activities have little or a positive relationship to local activity. For instance, internet users are as likely as anyone else to visit with their neighbors in person. Cell phone users, those who use the internet frequently at work, and bloggers are more likely to belong to a local voluntary association, such as a youth group or a charitable organization.

little pieces of things that might interest you

A few links that have been keeping me from inbox zero for the past few weeks.

  • “…the increased popularity of the Internet in America has not been correlated with an overall increase in reported sexual offenses; overall sexual offenses against children have gone steadily down in the last 18 years” Note: this does not say “oh the internet is safe!” It just says that the internet getting more popular doesn’t correlate with sexual offenses against children. More from the Research Advisory Board of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force
  • Speaking of Berkman people, I’ll be hanging out in the Boston area over the turkey weekend and likely going to this event that Saturday. Anyone in the area should consider going, it looks like fun.
  • Evergreen is gaining traction as an ILS that works even for big/complicated systems. The Traverse Area just went live with their Evergreen implementation. Doesn’t that look nice? More about Michigan’s open source ILS project.
  • I’ve been reading more lately. I read Cory Doctorow’s book Content (my review) and think it should be required reading for librarians or anyone else in the various digital content industries. If you’d like a copy, you can read it for free online, or if you’re a librarian or a teacher, you can request a donated copy from the website. I already gave mine away.
  • FCC broadband bill passed. This might help Farmer Bob [my generic term for the people over on this side of the digital divide] get broadband.
  • Pew Report “When Technology Fails” (and even really great technology sometimes does). The results will likely not surprise the librarians. “15% of tech users were unable to fix their devices” and “48% felt discouraged with the amount of effort needed to fix the problem.”

Help Pew be Pew with this future scenario survey

I was asked to fill out a Predictions Survey by the Pew folks. In it, they describe the modern-day status quo of technology and ask for predictions on where these technologies are going and how society uses them. At the end, they ask if anyone has friends or colleagues whose input might be useful. My input was along the lines of “I don’t even agree with your status quo statements” so I figure it might be useful for them to get other opinions. The link to the survey is and you have to use the pin 9000 to log in to it.

some end of the week short links

It’s been a busy week this week. I had eight people come to computer drop-in time on Tuesday which was a tech frenzy of PayPal and email and inserting graphics and Yahoo mail address books. I’ve had a few of these links hanging around for a while waiting to find time to write proper posts, but I figured I’ll drop them in here. I see a lot of blogging as playing hot potato with a bunch of web content. You find it, you pass it on, the next person passes it on. The more content you shift, the easier it is to quickly ascertain which things you need to save for longer perusal and which need to just get passed on for the next person. I’ve read and absorbed these and thought you might like them.

The Information Poor & the Information Don’t Care: Small Libraries and the Digital Divide

This is the talk I gave this evening: The Information Poor & the Information Don’t Care: Small Libraries and the Digital Divide. Thanks very much to all who attended, it was a fun talk and you have a lovely library.

Digital Divisions – Pew Report

Please enjoy these data excerpts from the recent Pew report on the Digital Divide in the United States.

68% of adults use the Internet, 32% do not. Sometimes this lack of use is by choice and sometimes it isn’t.
73% of adults live in a household with an Internet connection and 27% do not.
22% of adults have never used the Internet and do not have access in their homes.
38% of adults living with disabilities have access to the Internet.
22% of adults over 70 have Internet access whereas 53% of adults between 60 and 69 have access.
11% of Internet non-users say that getting access is too difficult, frustrating or expensive.

The Pew survey splits Internet users into three general groups: cold, tepid and hot. Hot users are engaged with the Internet, they use it at home, they use fast connections. They are likely to be under 50, and college graduates. They can get online when they need to and are comfortable in the online world. Cold users are the 22% who have never used the Internet, they are often have a high school education or less, and they are often over 65. They would have trouble getting online if they needed to. Tepid users account for 40% of Internet users in the US. They usually either have a slow connection, or no regular connection, are generally younger than the “cold” users, and could go online if they really needed to.

I’m in the process of putting together a talk that I’m giving at SJSU on the 26th, so I’m sure I’ll be mulling these answers over quite a bit in the near future — there are more tidbits that outline race vs connectivity in ways that are fascinating — but these are just to toss out for people who may not want to read the whole report.

how popular are podcasts really?

The Pew Internet survey says that 6 million people have downloaded podcasts. Here’s some discussion about why that number is probably somewhat, or even very, overstated. [rc3]