Pew’s latest research on news consumption in the US.
The key bits:
A sizable minority of Americans find themselves at the intersection of these two longstanding trends in news consumption. Integrators, who get the news from both traditional sources and the internet, are a more engaged, sophisticated and demographically sought-after audience segment than those who mostly rely on traditional news sources. Integrators share some characteristics with a smaller, younger, more internet savvy audience segment – Net-Newsers – who principally turn to the web for news, and largely eschew traditional sources.
Net-Newsers are the youngest of the news user segments (median age: 35). They are affluent and even better educated than the News Integrators: More than eight-in-ten have at least attended college. Net-Newsers not only rely primarily on the internet for news, they are leading the way in using new web features and other technologies. Nearly twice as many regularly watch news clips on the internet as regularly watch nightly network news broadcasts (30% vs. 18%).
Net-Newsers do rely on some well known traditional media outlets. They are at least as likely as Integrators and Traditionalists to read magazines such as The New Yorker and The Atlantic, and somewhat more likely to get news from the BBC.
So, in short, good news for those traditional operators — like CNN and the BBC — who have invested in developing their offerings into video and TV reporting. Also good news for heavy hitters such as The New Yorker – suggesting that good print journalism does, in fact, have a future.
There are also some worrying trends:
In spite of the increasing variety of ways to get the news, the proportion of young people getting no news on a typical day has increased substantially over the past decade. About a third of those younger than 25 (34%) say they get no news on a typical day, up from 25% in 1998.
Believability ratings for national news organizations remain very low. If anything, believability ratings for major online news outlets – including news aggregators such as Google News and AOL News – are lower than for major print, cable and broadcast outlets.
Anyone interested in the media (hello?) can read the full report at Pew’s main site.
The Internet loses its sex drive.
The Economist (yes we’re catching up with our feeds) reports that porn may no longer be the world’s favourite online pastime. In Britain search sites overtook sex sites in popularity last October — the first time any other category has come out on top since tracking began, says Hitwise. In America, the proportion of site visits that are pornographic is falling and people are flocking to sites categorised “net communities and chat” — chiefly social-networking sites such as MySpace, Bebo and Facebook. Traffic to those sites is poised to overtake traffic to sex sites in America any day now (see lovely chart):
The Economist muses:
Does this mean the internet has matured as a medium? After all, pornographic content is often the first to take advantage of new media, from photography to videocassettes to satellite television. “Sex is a virus that infects new technology first,” as Wired put it back in 1993. Once a new medium becomes popular, its usage is no longer dominated by porn . Although this may soon be true for the web, however, it is not true for the internet as a whole. Much pornographic content may simply have shifted from the web to peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, for example.
We think — with absolutely no scientific back up — that this is really a non-story, fun though it is to info-graphic. The Economist is measuring interest in sex in old media terms — passive watching and searching for images. They’re right to flag that people are consuming content in different ways — after all, why look at a grainy webcam image when you can file-share HD?
But what about all the people out there using the Net as way to get a shag? After all, the first ‘social networking’ success story wasn’t Facebook or MySpace — even though they have a dating service aspect. No it was Gaydar. And what has really driven the fascination in Craigslist? You guessed it. People using it for (ahem) ‘dating’. It’s not what people are looking at but the connections that are being made. And believe us, everyone’s at it.
Seoul surpasses 100% broadband penetration.
According to official government figures, 100% of homes in the South Korean capital are now connected to broadband. By early this year, 85 per cent of households had broadband — the most broadband connections per head of population in the world.
Via the Institute for the Future.
From the man who believes “the best way to predict the future, is to invent it.”
Alan Kay — educator, scientist and co-designer of the OLPC device — in a recent interview:
The things that are wrong with the Web today are due to this lack of curiosity in the computing profession. And it’s very characteristic of a pop culture. Pop culture lives in the present; it doesn’t really live in the future or want to know about great ideas from the past. I’m saying there’s a lot of useful knowledge and wisdom out there for anybody who is curious, and who takes the time to do something other than just executing on some current plan. Cicero said, “Who knows only his own generation remains always a child.” People who live in the present often wind up exploiting the present to an extent that it starts removing the possibility of having a future.
The ex-Gucci designer and iconoclast-about-town has announced that the Internet is useful. Tom Ford told Women’s Wear Daily:
I think it is important to always address and use the primary media of one’s time and we all have to face the fact that there is no more powerful media than the internet. It is how most of us communicate, get our news, entertain ourselves, and increasingly shop.
Unfortunately, Ford has chosen to embrace a retro, 1.0 version of the Web and his site is so weighed down with Flash frills that we couldn’t actually access it. So not a good look.
Story via UK Vogue.
New map answers the question.
Researchers in the US have really pulled all the stops out to make this map:
What is this ball of colors? It is the North American Internet, or more specifically a map of just about every router on the North American backbone, (there are 134,855 of them for those who are counting). The colors represent who each router is registered to. Red is Verizon; blue AT&T; yellow Qwest; green is major backbone players like Level 3 and Sprint Nextel; black is the entire cable industry put together; and gray is everyone else, from small telecommunications companies to large international players who only have a small presence in the U.S. If you click on the map it will take you to much bigger version complete with labels that tell you the address of many of the routers.
The original posting has more details and discussion.
Internet contact strengthens — not weakens — existing relationships, according to a new study.
The ever-busy people at the Pew Internet & American Life Project have today released their latest report, The Strength of Internet Ties, which finds, in summary, that:
The Internet helps maintain people’s social networks, and connects them to members of their social network when they need help. 60 million Americans have turned to the Internet for help with major life decisions.
Given the strength of the ‘the Internet is disruptive to real relationships’ meme, this is newsworthy.
Amongst the other findings in the report:
- Heavy users of email are heavy users of other media as well — email adds to the possibilities of communication, rather than replacing other channels for it.
- The only activities that increased online activity steals time from are watching television and sleeping!
Don’t take our word for it — read the whole report, and the original questionnaire on which it’s based, online.
Internet elder statesman and onetime chief protocol architect David D. Clark thinks it might be. In Technology Review he points to a presentation he wrote back in 1992 where he highlighted the Internet’s lack of built-in security. He also observed that sometimes the worst human disasters are caused not by sudden events but by slow, incremental process … and that humans are good at ignoring problems.
Things get worse slowly. People adjust. The problem is assigning the correct degree of fear to distant elephants.
Clark believes that now the elephants are awfully close. Almost one billion people now use the Internet and institutions like banks and the media increasingly rely on it. At the same time, the Internet’s shortcomings have resulted in dire security protocols and a decreased ability to adapt to new technologies. Clark says:
We are at an inflection point, a revolution point. We might just be at the point where the utility of the Internet stalls – and perhaps turns downward.
He thinks it is time to rethink the Net’s basic architecture and indeed plans are in place. The National Science Foundation is currently working on a five to seven year plan estimated to cost between $200 million to $300 million in research funding to develop such clean slate architecture. According to Guru Parulkar, an NSF program manager involved in the plan:
If we succeed in what we are trying to do, this is bigger than anything we, as a research community, have done in computer science so far. In terms of its mission and vision, it is a very big deal. But now we are just at the beginning. It has the potential to change the game. It could take it to the next level in realizing what the Internet could be that has not been possible because of the challenges and problems.