Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Strength of Internet Ties

Eide Neurolearning blog pointed out yet another timely research paper published by the Pew Internet & American Life Project:
The Strength of Internet Ties - The internet and email aid users in maintaining their social networks and provide pathways to help when people face big decisions.

Apart from the title, the summary also gives a good idea of the positive outcomes of this research.
  • The internet helps build social capital.
  • The internet supports social networks.
  • Email is more capable than in-person or phone communication of facilitating regular contact with large networks.
  • Email is a tool of “glocalization.” It connects distant friends and relatives, yet it also connects those who live nearby.
  • Email does not seduce people away from in-person and phone contact.
  • People use the internet to put their social networks into motion when they need help with important issues in their lives.
  • The internet’s role is important in explaining the greater likelihood of online users getting help as compared to non-users.
  • Americans’ use of a range of information technologies smooths their paths to getting help.
  • Those with many significant ties and access to people with a variety of different occupations are more likely to get help from their networks.
  • Internet users have somewhat larger social networks than non-users.
  • About 60 million Americans say the internet has played an important or crucial role in helping them deal with at least one major life decision in the past two years.
  • The number of Americans relying on the internet for major life decisions has increased by one-third since 2002.
  • At major moments, some people say the internet helps them connect with other people and experts who help them make choices. Others say that the web helps them get information and compare options as they face decisions.

While it does appear to be a case of the ask the right questions get the right answers, and even though I'm not a North American, as a fairly heavy Internet user by Australia/New Zealand standards, I easily identify with all these findings.

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Graham Wegner said...

What about Prensky's comment the other week that "e-mail is for old people"!

Leigh Blackall said...

hmm, that puts a spin on it. I'm not sure what I think about Marc's idea there. Something to think about...

nswtox said...

I agree quiet strongly with many points raised here,particularly that the internet "helps people connect with other people and experts who help them make choices".