Parliament and the Internet: William Dutton

William Dutton, Director of the Oxford Internet Institute, Social dynamics of the internet This conference is focused on the future, and we wanted it to be evidence based, so thought to identify some patterns and themes in internet use, which are shaping the future of this emerging cyber-infrastructure. Who uses the internet? How to people use it? What level of trust do people place in the internet, and why? What at the key implications? Oxford Internet Surveys (OxIS) done in 2003 and 2005, going out again in 2007 cross-sectional surveys, i.e. new section of people each time. vs panels England, Scotland, Wales Face to face, interviews Response rate: 66% in 03 and 72% in 05. Part of World Internet Projects, data put in pot with 22 other nations. Who uses the internet? Who does not? Internet has become central in 2001, people thought the net was ‘new’. Even in 01 people thought it was a fad. But 60% of britains are online. Was a new tech, but now has become an invisible infrastructure to many homes. It’s being taken for granted now. New stage of development where it’s central, and a cyber-infrastructure. UK is doing well, but not as well as many Scandinavian countries, but digital divide is an important issue, particularly in countries like China where only 7% are online. Important to realise that diffusion of the internet has plateau’d at 60%, and this has happened in other countries. Bumps up against limit, such as number of PCs in the home. Getting to the next level of diffusion is important. Broadband has diffused rapidly, so 70% of households with the internet are broadband, and soon that will be 100%. So this plateau is more significant because broadband allows increasing integration into every day life, but those without internet get no benefit of that. Education is related to having the internet. Note – ‘internet use’ means anywhere, home, country or school, but the prime place to use it is at home. Education, income related to use of internet. Access via mobile devices also linked to income. Thus reinforces existing social divides. Richer people have more access. Not just about digital divide, but also digital choice. People who gamble on line: younger men with full time jobs, i.e. risk-taking demographics. In a way, early internet use is a risk-taking activity, so in a way it’s a choice. Higher income, job, educated are more likely to take the risk of going online. Even in households with broadband, some people choose not to use the internet when it’s there. Non-users don’t use because they’re not interested. Building infrastructure is one thing, but building interest is another. Cannot explain age patterns via socio-economic divides. So all kids use the internet, but only 30% of retirees use the internet. Younger people think the internet is more interesting and important than older people. This is a worldwide pattern. Age is more important than gender divides. Factors: – cohort, what tech was there when you were growing up – life stage – ageing, e.g. eyesight, memory, stiffer fingers – design, computer industry not targeting older people Kids use computers in three or more locations: home, friends house, school, cafe, etc. Older people use it in one location. People who have ‘always on’ broadband capability, older people tend to actually turn it off, younger people leave it on all time. Again, a generational issue. Multitasking, as you get older it’s harder to multitask, but almost all computer use is multitasking. How do people use the internet? Gambling was the lowest use of the internet, but checking email and product information online was the biggest. But lots of heterogeneity. Factors Entertainment, captures most of the greatest degree of variance Information Banking Learning, looking up words or facts Communication, email, IM etc. one of the most common things we do, but doesn’t discriminate among people Planning, e.g. travel plans. Communication – 92% use email. Entertainment – more divided, e.g. 50% download music, but the rest don’t. Those with higher income use the net more functionality to access information; the more expertise you have the more you use it for information. Oldest and youngest don’t use it for getting information. Idea of a knowledge society or information society is wrong – just because kids use the net doesn’t mean they are accessing information. Use of information to get health info is mainly people of a working age. Younger people use the internet for entertainment, but not for info. Slight uptick in oldest age group. Gender divides, males u se the internet more for entertainment than female, who use it more for information. Internet does not realise its potential for UGC. Very low proportion, 18% or less, use the net for blogging, pictures, discussion/meassage board, but this was 2005. Maybe more now. 5% keep a blog. Most people use the internet passively, not actively. Do people trust the internet? Is trust declining? Two issues of trust. – Net confidence: reliability f information on the net, confidence in people running the net, people you can communicate with on the net. – Net risks: perceived risks ot privacy, security of information, accurately judging quality of products. Non-users say they don’t know if the net is reliable. But users have an opinion. Non-users are most sceptical, but users and past users are more positive about the reliability. Internet is an experience technology. People have to experience it to understand it. More experienced users have different attitudes. Not the case that people who have trust in the internet do not necessarily trust all over tech. Broadband users people trust internet about as much as TV, but more than newspapers. More experienced and more educated people are, more people trust the net. Bad experiences. Many people have had bad experiences, and the more bad experiences you have the less you trust the internet. So more experience = trust; back experience = loss of trust, so a bit of an arms race there to see which will win. People think the internet is more reliable in 2005 than in 2003. And have more confidence in the people they meet, and in ISPs. People trust people they meet online a bit less than other people from your country, but it’s gone up since 03. People perceive it to be more powerful now, and people who’ve not used the internet now are less likely to be sceptical and more likely to say they don’t know. Different patterns of use. More experienced people use the net differently to beginners with less than 1 year’s experience. So what? Lots of opinions as to what all this means. Utopian vs dystopian, substitution, dual effects, reinforcement, reconfiguring access. Internet has a transformative impact that’s not deterministic in the long run. Internet reconfigures access, e.g. where would you go first if looking for information on, an MP… people first go to the internet. Taxes, second place, planning a journey, first place, for books, visit a website is second, local schools, internet is major source of information Changing how we go about getting information. More dramatic if you pull out age groups. Younger people, 56% would go to the internet, 8% would not. Also changes what you read, what information you get. Asked what newspapers you read online that you don’t read offline? 20% of users find info online they don’t find in print. 20% met people or made friends online and this is a pre-social networking phenomenon. People meet these people offline too. Also make friends online that they never meet. As people get more skills, they meet more people online. People who use the net more meet more people. So as it becomes a more central infrastructure we’ll see more people meting more people online. And this refiguring will change the way that people learn – more people having more access to more learning. Politics – how will politicians react to bloggers? Across every sector, it’s changing not just the way we do things but also the outcome. Major challenges: – addressing socio-economic digital divides – countering digital choice – focus on patterns of consumption and production as well as adoption – creating and maintaining a learned level of trust in an experience technology – strategically reconfiguring access to you and the world