Meet the opposite of the couch potato — the Internet user

Meet the opposite of the couch potato — the Internet user

From the latest survey of the Pew Internet and American Life project — the most comprehensive ongoing study of how Americans use the Net:

“44% of Internet users have created content for the online world through building or posting to Web sites, creating blogs, and sharing files

In a national phone survey between March 12 and May 20, 2003, the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that more than 53 million American adults have used the Internet to publish their thoughts, respond to others, post pictures, share files and otherwise contribute to the explosion of content available online. Some 44% of the nation[base ‘]s adult Internet users (those 18 and over) have done at least one of the following:

21% of Internet users say they have posted photographs to Web sites. 17% have posted written material on Web sites. 13% maintain their own Web sites. 10% have posted comments to an online newsgroup. A small fraction of them have posted files to a newsgroup such as video, audio, or photo files. 8% have contributed material to Web sites run by their businesses. 7% have contributed material to Web sites run by organizations to which they belong such as church or professional groups. 7% have Web cams running on their computers that allow other Internet users to see live pictures of them and their surroundings. 6% have posted artwork on Web sites. 5% have contributed audio files to Web sites. 4% have contributed material to Web sites created for their families. 3% have contributed video files to Web sites. 2% maintain Web diaries or Web blogs, according to respondents to this phone survey. In other phone surveys prior to this one, and one more recently fielded in early 2004, we have heard that between 2% and 7% of adult Internet users have created diaries or blogs. In this survey we found that 11% of Internet users have read the blogs or diaries of other Internet users. About a third of these blog visitors have posted material to the blog.”

This is hard evidence supporting what most of us have known for a long time — but which has not yet dawned on the traditional media industries — namely that the era of the passive consumer of media content is coming to an end. There will always be couch potatoes, no doubt, but they will look increasingly eccentric in a networked future. Humans are social, communicative animals. Given the right media, they will seek to express themselves. The Net is providing the medium — and they are expressing themselves. QED.