“40% of internet users go online for data about government spending and activities; 31% of online adults use social media and other new tools to access government services and information.”
Government Online from the Pew
Government agencies have begun to open up their data to the public, and a surprisingly large number of citizens are showing interest.
* 82 percent of Internet users — or 61 percent of American adults — had looked up information or completed a transaction on a government Web site over the previous year.
* Some 40% of adult internet users have gone online for raw data about government spending and activities.
* 23% of internet users have looked online to see how federal stimulus money is being spent
* 22% of internet users have read or downloadde the text of legislation
* 1623% of internet users have visited a site such as data.gov that provides access to government data
* 14% of internet users have looked online to see who is contributing to the campaigns of their elected officials
* 31% of online adults have used social tools such as blogs, social networking sites, and online video as well as email and text alerts to keep informed about government activities
“Government interactions in the information age are often fueled by data,” said Aaron Smith, a Research Specialist at the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and author of a report based on a new national phone survey. “Online citizens can—and often do—‘go to the source’ in their efforts to monitor government activities, evaluate the impacts of new legislation, and track the flow of their tax dollars.”
These new web 2.0 tools show particular appeal to groups that have historically lagged in their use of other online government offerings—in particular, minority Americans. Latinos and African Americans are just as likely as whites to use these tools to keep up with government, and are much more likely to agree that government outreach using these channels makes government more accessible and helps people be more informed about what government agencies are doing.
“Just as social media and just-in-time applications have changed the way Americans get information about current events or health information, they are now changing how citizens interact with elected officials and government agencies,” said Smith. “People are not only getting involved with government in new and interesting ways, they are also using these tools to share their views with others and contribute to the broader debate around government policies.”
Read the 47 page PDF here.
Since more than a third of Americans get their access to the web primarily nthrough libraries, then libraries are a major and important source of government access for programs and, indeed, democracy.