Tag Archives: Pew Internet

Read All About It

How do you find out what’s going on?

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I have a pretty good idea how you do so with respect to your family and friends and business colleagues.  That would be via social networks and email or maybe even (Lord help us) a good old-fashioned phone call or (gasp) face to face encounter.  IRL – what a concept (“in real life” for the less digitally inclined among us). But what about finding out about the news?  How do most people do that these days?  Is it 24/7 news channels?  Newspapers or their websites?  Local TV and their digital presences?

As it turns out, it’s pretty much the same way we get the “other” news.  According to the good folks over at the Pew Research Journalism Project three in ten adults get at least some news while on Facebook.  Not that they’re actually looking since 78% of Facebook news users mostly see news when on Facebook for other reasons.  The Pew folks aren’t picking on Facebook but since Facebook reaches far more Americans than any other social media site it therefore allows for the most in-depth study.

Just 34% of Facebook news consumers “like” a news organization or individual journalist, which suggests that the news they see there is coming from friends – the same friends likely sending them posts about everything else.  Entertainment news tops the list of topics Facebook news consumers report seeing and is, unfortunately, indicative of our focus these days. This is followed by ‘people and events in my community’, sports, national government and politics, crime, health and medicine, and local government and politics. Even international news reaches roughly one in four Facebook news consumers.

Not only are social network users sharing news stories, but, particularly with the growth in mobile devices, a certain portion is contributing to the reporting by taking photos or videos.  In fact, the study showed that on Twitter, groups of people come together around news events they feel passionately about. But opinions expressed on Twitter often differ from broad public opinion.   That’s not a shock given that Twitter’s user base is not really representative of the public as a whole.  Finally, in honor of “whatever”, visitors who come to a news site through Facebook or search display have far lower engagement with that outlet than those who come to that news website directly.

How do you find out what’s going on?  Turns out that it finds you for the most part.  But given the source – your chums who may be finding it out from a friend of a friend, it’s more incumbent than ever that we do a little more due diligence.  After all, taking anything as gospel – even what you read here – in an age when there are no barriers to the great digital megaphone is shortsighted.  If you really want to know, go find out!

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Learning The Language

A fascinating report came out at the end of last month from The Pew Internet and American Life folks. This one has to do with the impact of an “always on” connection on young people and whether that impact will be positive or negative. You can read the release and the report itself here and there was a good summary of the study done here.

These are really the key points:

…many of the young people growing up hyperconnected to each other and the mobile Web and counting on the internet as their external brain will be nimble, quick-acting multitaskers who will do well in key respects.

At the same time, these experts predicted that the impact of networked living on today’s young will drive them to thirst for instant gratification, settle for quick choices, and lack patience. A number of the survey respondents argued that it is vital to reform education and emphasize digital literacy. A notable number expressed concerns that trends are leading to a future in which most people are shallow consumers of information, and some mentioned George Orwell’s 1984 or expressed their fears of control by powerful interests in an age of entertaining distractions.

I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time each day online and have for years.  There is no question it has an effect on one’s brain.  I notice how my thinking has changed – at times I feel more distracted because there are always a few other things I’m doing concurrently but I also notice that when I read offline I read the “above the fold” portion of articles (usually the lede and a few paragraphs) and then scan the rest – the mind gets restless.

My thought today is this.  Digital literacy has become something that young people learn as they do their native language.  Anyone under 21 has grown up using digital devices and their brains are wired to operate a connected environment.  Ever seen a three year old play with an iPad?  Kids are digital before they can read.  They also don’t seem to focus as well (coincidence that there is an epidemic of ADD?) and can grow impatient quickly.

That statement about the digital language is several implications.  First, we don’t think about where our native language comes from (other than those of us who study philology).  We just speak it. People know how to use the digital tools but have no clue how they operate (unless they’re engineers).  Sometimes I think we confuse speaking a language with studying one and treat people who do the former as if they’ve done the latter.  Second, when one reads articles about companies enhancing broadband wand WiFi availability in one area while others are abandoning those efforts in poorer areas, it makes me think about immigrants who can’t speak the language of a new country.  If you’re not speaking digital, pretty soon you’ll be treated as a different class.

Have a look at the study and tell me what you think (if you can focus long enough!).

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Who ARE These People?

I consider myself to be a friendly guy. Maybe my gregarious nature is what helped me to be successful in sales; maybe it’s what helps me play golf or hang out at a party with total strangers and be comfortable. But I’ve been thinking lately that maybe I’ve over-reached a bit.  You see, lately when I look at my LinkedIn connections or even some of my Facebook friends, I wonder who they are.  Why that’s a little scary to me is that I’ve really tried over the years to keep Facebook to my personal friends, not business connections or people who know others that I know but whom I’ve never met.  I used to have a LinkedIn policy that I had to have met the connection in person but that went out the window a long time ago.  Still, I try not to accept random people as connections and yet I’ve got a few dozen that I can’t place at all.

Turns out I’m not alone.  This is from the Pew Internet and American Life study:

Social network users are becoming more active in pruning and managing their accounts. Women and younger users tend to unfriend more than others.

About two-thirds of internet users use social networking sites (SNS) and all the major metrics for profile management are up, compared to 2009: 63% of them have deleted people from their “friends” lists, up from 56% in 2009; 44% have deleted comments made by others on their profile; and 37% have removed their names from photos that were tagged to identify them.

That’s less of a big deal to businesses than this:

Privacy appears to be the new preference of social media denizens. The majority of social network users (58 percent) have set their profiles to private, and just 20 percent of adults said their profiles remained public.

Marketers have a vested interest both in networks being large and users being discoverable.  When we all start to contract those networks – who ARE these all these “friends” anyway? – it runs contrary to those interests.

The above two items gave me pause.  You?

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Filed under digital media, Reality checks