Pew Internet has been producing some important and interesting studies on how students do research in the world of e.
A couple of weeks ago, Pew released a report on how Americans 16-29 use the library. Here’s Pew’s highlights:
83% of Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 read a book in the past year. Some 75% read a print book, 19% read an e-book, and 11% listened to an audiobook.
Among Americans who read e-books, those under age 30 are more likely to read their e-books on a cell phone (41%) or computer (55%) than on an e-book reader such as a Kindle (23%) or tablet (16%).
Overall, 47% of younger Americans read long-form e-content such as books, magazines or newspapers. E-content readers under age 30 are more likely than older e-content readers to say that they are reading more these days due to the availability of e-content (40% vs. 28%).
60% of Americans under age 30 used the library in the past year. Some 46% used the library for research, 38% borrowed books (print books, audiobooks, or e-books), and 23% borrowed newspapers, magazines, or journals.
Many of these young readers do not know they can borrow an e-book from a library, and a majority of them express the wish they could do so on pre-loaded e-readers. Some 10% of the e-book readers in this group have borrowed an e-book from a library and, among those who have not borrowed an e-book, 52% said they were unaware they could do so. Some 58% of those under age 30 who do not currently borrow e-books from libraries say they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to borrow pre-loaded e-readers if their library offered that service.
The report usefully breaks its population into three age groups.
Then yesterday, Pew Internet released a report called How Teens Do Research in the Digital World. It surveys Advanced Placement teachers and National Writing Program communities. Her’s Pew’s overall summary:
Overall, teachers who participated in this study characterize the impact of today’s digital environment on their students’ research habits and skills as mostly positive, yet multi-faceted and not without drawbacks. Among the more positive impacts they see: the best students access a greater depth and breadth of information on topics that interest them; students can take advantage of the availability of educational material in engaging multimedia formats; and many become more self-reliant researchers.
At the same time, these teachers juxtapose these benefits against some emerging concerns. Specifically, some teachers worry about students’ overdependence on search engines; the difficulty many students have judging the quality of online information; the general level of literacy of today’s students; increasing distractions pulling at students and poor time management skills; students’ potentially diminished critical thinking capacity; and the ease with which today’s students can borrow from the work of others.
These teachers report that students rely mainly on search engines to conduct research, in lieu of other resources such as online databases, the news sites of respected news organizations, printed books, or reference librarians.
Overall, the vast majority of these teachers say a top priority in today’s classrooms should be teaching students how to “judge the quality of online information.” As a result, a significant portion of the teachers surveyed here report spending class time discussing with students how search engines work, how to assess the reliability of the information they find online, and how to improve their search skills. They also spend time constructing assignments that point students toward the best online resources and encourage the use of sources other than search engines.
But the most distressing takeaway is: “87% say these technologies are creating an ‘easily distracted generation with short attention spans’ and 64% say today’s digital technologies ‘do more to distract students than to help them academically.”
Categories: too big to know
Tagged with: 2b2k
Date: November 2nd, 2012 dw
A new report from Pew Internet says that most Americans don’t know that they can borrow e-books from their local public libraries, while 12% of e-book readers (16 years and older) have borrowed an e-book from their local public library. (More than 75% of local public libraries in the US do lend out e-books.)
Those who do borrow e-books think the selection is quite good: 16% excellent, 18% very good, and 32% good.
“58% of Americans have a library card, and 69% say that their local library is important to them and their family.”
Lots more of interesting and important data in this report. As always, Pew Internet puts it out for free. Thank you, Pew!
And as a small gesture of thanks, here’s a plug for the new book by Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman Networked: The New Social Operating System. Lee is the head of Pew Internet. I haven’t read it yet, but given its authors, I have a lot of confidence that it’s well worth reading.
Tagged with: ebooks
Date: June 22nd, 2012 dw
Highlighted results from a new Pew Internet poll (taken directly from their pr email):
One in five American adults does not use the internet. Senior citizens, those who prefer to take our interviews in Spanish rather than English, adults with less than a high school education, and those living in households earning less than $30,000 per year are the least likely adults to have internet access.
Among adults who do not use the internet, almost half have told us that the main reason they don’t go online is because they don’t think the internet is relevant to them. Most have never used the internet before, and don’t have anyone in their household who does.
The 27% of adults living with disability in the U.S. today are significantly less likely than adults without a disability to go online (54% vs. 81%). Furthermore, 2% of adults have a disability or illness that makes it more difficult or impossible for them to use the internet at all.
88% of American adults have a cell phone, 57% have a laptop, 19% own an e-book reader, and 19% have a tablet computer; about six in ten adults (63%) go online wirelessly with one of those devices. Gadget ownership is generally correlated with age, education, and household income, although some devices—notably e-book readers and tablets—are as popular or even more popular with adults in their thirties and forties than young adults ages 18-29.
The rise of mobile is changing the story. Groups that have traditionally been on the other side of the digital divide in basic internet access are using wireless connections to go online. Among smartphone owners, young adults, minorities, those with no college experience, and those with lower household income levels are more likely than other groups to say that their phone is their main source of internet access.
More from Pew’s Lee Rainie here. Data here.
Tagged with: data
• digital divide
Date: April 13th, 2012 dw
Here’s Pew Internet’s bulleted summary of a new survey of teens and their texts:
Texting continues to cement its place as the central communications tool of teen social life – the frequency and overall volume of texts are both up since 2009.
Voice calling on both mobile phones and (in some circumstances) on landlines is in decline.
The heaviest texters are also the heaviest talkers. Teens who text the most are also the most likely to make calls, talk with people face to face outside of school, and use social network sites.
One quarter of teens have a smartphone. The oldest teens (ages 16 and 17) are the most likely to report smartphone ownership. Otherwise, there are few demographic differences between smartphone and regular cell phone owners.
Smartphone owners are more likely than regular phone owners to: use tablets to go online; use a location-based service on their cell phone, use social media sites, send and receive texts on a typical day.
Only a small fraction of American teens use location-based services on their cell phones – 6% of teens 12-17 use the services to share their location.
I found that last bullet surprising. Are the teens showing surprisingly mature caution, or did they just not find the “on” button yet?
Tagged with: pew
Date: March 19th, 2012 dw
Fascinating report by Pew Internet on the emotional climate adults find on social networking sites. From a summary of the report circulated by Pew:
85% of SNS-using adults say that their experience on the sites is that people are mostly kind, compared with 5% who say people they observe on the sites are mostly unkind and another 5% who say their answer depends on the situation.
At the same time, 49% of SNS-using adults said they have seen mean or cruel behavior displayed by others at least occasionally. And 26% said they had experienced at least one of the bad outcomes that were queried in the survey.
It’s easy to see how this compares with our expectations about social networks. For me, I was pleasantly surprised at the 85% number, and would have guessed the 49% would have been higher. After all, I’ve seen occasional mean acts even on mailing lists among people who have come to know one another pretty well over the years. And you can’t have a blog for long without attracting some mean-spirited comments, On the other hand, it’s hard to know what to make of this compared to non-digital social networks. Would 49% of adults say that they have seen mean or cruel behavior at work? Among their extended set of real-world friends? At parties they’ve gone to? It’s hard to know exactly what an online network compares to structurally.
Categories: social media
Tagged with: pew
• social networks
Date: February 9th, 2012 dw
Pew Internet reports that 65% of American Net users (75% of the people they contacted) have paid for online, digital content. Ever. And there’s no category of goods in which more than one third of the respondents have ever paid for content.
The content could include articles, music, software, or anything else in digital form. Here are the results for the fifteen different types of content Pew asked about:
33% of internet users have paid for digital music online
33% have paid for software
21% have paid for apps for their cell phones or tablet computers
19% have paid for digital games
18% have paid for digital newspaper, magazine, or journal articles or reports
16% have paid for videos, movies, or TV shows
15% have paid for ringtones
12% have paid for digital photos
11% have paid for members-only premium content from a website that has other free material on it
10% have paid for e-books
7% have paid for podcasts
5% have paid for tools or materials to use in video or computer games
5% have paid for “cheats or codes” to help them in video games
5% have paid to access particular websites such as online dating sites or services
2% have paid for adult content
The first three are way lower than I would have expected. That 15% have paid for ringtones I find bewildering and just a little depressing. That 2% report having paid for “adult content” I take as meaning 2% actually responded, “Yeah, I pay for porn. You gotta problem with that?”
Overall, there are a number of different conclusions we could draw:
1. The survey was flawed. (The survey questions are here [pdf]). But Pew is a reputable group, and not in service of some other group with an agenda.
2. There is such a wealth of goodness on the Net that in no single category do a majority of people have to use money to get what they want.
3. This a sign of disease: So few people are paying for anything that entire categories of goods-provisioning are going to die, taking the abundances with them.
4. This is a sign of health: New business models based on minority participation are and will emerge that will keep the categories alive, and, indeed, flourishing.
5. Most of what’s available on the Net sucks so much that we won’t pay for it.
6. We are just so over paying for things, dude.
FWIW, I find I’m willing to pay for more content these days, in part out of a sense of responsibility, in part because the payment mechanisms have gotten easier, and always if I can sense the human behind the transaction. (This is a self-report, not a principled stand.)
Tagged with: business
Date: December 30th, 2010 dw
A new Pew Internet survey confirms some obvious assumptions as well as some not so obvious ones about differences in how the Net is used by those with more money and those with less.
For example, U.S. households with an income of $75K tend to have faster connections and more Net devices. But also:
“Even among those who use the internet, the well off are more likely than those with less income to use technology.”
The richer are more likely to get their news online.
“Some 86% of internet users in higher-income households go online daily, compared with 54% in the lowest income bracket.”
“79% of the internet users in the higher earning bracket have visited a government website at the local, state or federal level versus 56% of those who fall into the lowest-income group”
Obviously, there may well be other correlations going on here. But it’s an interesting report, and one that confirms for those who need it that the Net is different depending on the circumstances within which it is embedded.
Tagged with: pew
Date: November 24th, 2010 dw
Pew Internet & American Life has a fascinating report on why Americans are not adopting broadband. Here’s some highlights Pew is circulating:
Broadband adoption has slowed dramatically in the overall population, but growth among African-Americans was especially high last year.
By a 53%-41% margin, Americans say they do not believe that the spread of affordable broadband should be a major government priority. Contrary to what some might suspect, non-internet users are less likely than current users to say the government should place a high priority on the spread of high-speed connections.
In addition to their skepticism towards government efforts to promote widespread broadband adoption, the 21% of American adults who do not use the internet are not tied in any obvious way to online life and express little interest in going online.
They do not find online content relevant to their lives. Half (48%) of non-users cite issues relating to the relevance of online content as the main reason they do not go online.
They are largely not interested in going online. Just one in ten non-users say would like to start using the internet in the future.
They are not comfortable using computers or the internet on their own. Six in ten non-users would need assistance getting online. Just one in five know enough about computers and technology to start using the internet on their own.
Tagged with: broadband
Date: August 11th, 2010 dw
Pew Internet surveyed a bunch o’ experts about where will be in The Cloud in 2020. The survey was more intended to elicit verbal responsesthan to come up with reliable numbers, but overall the experts seem to agree that we’ll be computing with a hybrid of desktop and cloud services. That seems a safe bet, especially since given enough bandwidth, all services are local. (Hasn’t distance always been the time it takes to connect?)
Several of the experts push back against the term “cloud,” Gary Bachula because it’s a “bad metaphor for broadening understanding of the concept,” and Susan Crawford because its ubiquity will mean that we “won’t need a word for it.”
Many worry about the power this will put in the hands of the Big Cloud Providers, with Robert Ackland arguing that “we need the cloud to be built using free and open source software.”
Several believe that there will be some prominent act of terrorism or incompetence in The Cloud that will drive people back to their desktops: “Expect a major news event involving a cloud catastrophe security breach or lost data to drive a reversion of these critical resources back to dedicated computing,” says Nathaniel James, or “a huge blow up with errorism,” predicts R. Ray Wang. Most agree it will be “both/and,” not “either/or.”
Many think that we’re not recognizing the depth of the change. For example, Fred Hapgood is among those who predicts the death, transformation, or marginalization of the PC: “By 2020 the computational hardware that we see around us in our daily lives will all be peripherals â€“ tablets, goggles, earphones, keyboards, 3D printers, and the like. The computation driving the peripherals will go on in any of a million different places…” Says Garth Graham: “By 2020, a â€˜general-purpose PC’ and a â€˜smart phone’ will have converged into a range of general-purpose interactive connection devices, and â€˜things’ will have acquired agency by becoming smart. “The PC is just a phase,” says Rebecca MacKinnon.
Some of the commenters point to the global digital divide, although they don’t agree on which side will be most cloud-based. Gary Arlen says that because of the U.S.’s desktop-based infrastructure, we won’t move into the cloud as rapidly as will less-developed nations. Seliti Arata, however, says, “Business models will provide premium services and applications on the cloud for monetization. However most of the world population will continue to use pirated software on their desktops and alternative/free cloud services.”
As for me, I don’t have predictions because the future is too furious. For example, the speed and availability of broadband access in this country is unpredictable and is by itself determinative, not to mention the Internet-seeking asteroid this is currently streaking toward the Earth. It’s safe to say, however, (= here comes something that in 5 years I’ll feel foolish for having said) that we’re going to move more and more into the cloud. The only thing I’d add to The Experts is that this will have network effects like crazy â€” effects due to the scale of data and social connections being managed under one roofless roof (with, we hope, lots of openness as well as security).
I’m in an airport, beginning a day of transit that seems to bend time in a Time Zonish way, so I haven’t had time to actually read this Pew Internet report, but my understanding is that it challenges the assumption that mobiles, texting, the Internet, and all the rest make us more isolated. It turns out (apparently), that Internet and cell phone users have larger and more diverse social networks than non-users. Which way the causality runs, I don’t know. But the Pew Internet stuff is invariably interesting, so I thought I’d point it out.
Now, it’s off to the airport gate so that I can circle the globe in the wrong direction, reverse the flow of time, and finally remember where I put that Superman comic in 1958.
, social media
Tagged with: pew
Date: November 5th, 2009 dw
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