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New Pew Study on the Ties that Bind

The latest report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project is a good one.
The Strength of Internet Ties: The internet and email aid users in maintaining their social networks and provide pathways to help when people face big decisions (January 25, 2006).
Here’s a few quotes:
“This report confronts one of the great debates about the internet: What is it doing to the relationships and social capital that Americans have with friends, relatives, neighbors, and workmates? Those on one side of the debate extol the internet’s ability to expand relationships — socially and geographically. Those on the other side of the debate fear that the internet will alienate people from their richer, more authentic relations.”
The Strength of Internet Ties: Summary of Findings at a Glance
The internet helps build social capital.
The internet plays socially beneficial roles in a world moving towards “networked individualism.”
Email allows people to get help from their social networks and the web lets them gather information and find support and information as they face important decisions.
The internet supports social networks.
Email is more capable than in-person or phone communication of facilitating regular contact with large networks.
Email is a tool of “glocalization.” It connects distant friends and relatives, yet it also connects those who live nearby.
Email does not seduce people away from in-person and phone contact.
People use the internet to put their social networks into motion when they need help with important issues in their lives.
The internet’s role is important in explaining the greater likelihood of online users getting help as compared to non-users.
Americans’ use of a range of information technologies smooths their paths to getting help.
Those with many significant ties and access to people with a variety of different occupations are more likely to get help from their networks.
Internet users have somewhat larger social networks than non-users. The median size of an American’s network of core and significant ties is 35. For internet users, the median network size is 37; for non-users it is 30.
About 60 million Americans say the internet has played an important or crucial role in helping them deal with at least one major life decision in the past two years.
The number of Americans relying on the internet for major life decisions has increased by one-thirdsince 2002.
At major moments, some people say the internet helps them connect with other people and experts who help them make choices. Others say that the web helps them get information and compare options as they face decisions.
Source: Jeffrey Boase, John B. Horrigan, Barry Wellman, Barry, and Lee Rainie. The Strength of Internet Ties.”
Few, maybe none of these statements, don’t describe libraries’ roles in their communities. (Can we strongly say that the word “internet’ could be replaced in every statement with “Library”?) These summary findings do underline the transformational effect of the Internet on our strategies and engangement with our communities and definitely underline the role of web 2.0 and library 2.0 discussions in discovering some new strategies.

Posted on: January 27, 2006, 11:22 am Category: Uncategorized

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