[Air-l] Major Online Communities Report from Pew Internet and American Life Project

Steven Clift steven at politicalbs.com
Wed Oct 31 21:17:58 PST 2001

This time with a subject line ...

P.S. I would be interested in the results of similar studies in other
countries. - SLC

*** Democracies Online Newswire - http://www.e-democracy.org/do ***

The Pew Internet and the American Life Project
<http://www.pewinternet.org> has released one of the most important
studies about the "two-way" Internet to date - "Online Communities:
Networks that nurture long-distance relationships and local ties."
Below is the press release.  Access the full report from:


For my full Democracies Online commentary visit:

The report states that most people find local online groups in the
off-line world.  I also see tremendous potential for online efforts
which make it easier to find, evaluate, and join online communities
based on geography and other key factors.  This happens to tie
extremely closely with the proposed Open Groups standards effort that I am
promoting <http://www.publicus.net/opengroups/>.  To receive notice of the
pending release of a major technical draft, send an e-mail to
<open-groups-announce-subscribe at yahoogroups.com>.  With support, Open
Groups could help increase online group interactivity many times over.

Read on for the press release and pass this on to others.

Steven Clift
Democracies Online Newswire

Provided to DO-WIRE by:


CONTACT: Lee Rainie or John Horrigan at 202-296-0019

90 million have participated in online groups

Many use the Internet to connect with online communities that embrace
their hobbies, their professions, their passions, and their beliefs

28 million go online with church groups, sports leagues, and social
organizations in their home towns

WASHINGTON- The Internet allows tens of millions of Americans to
participate in a thriving social world where they enjoy serious and
satisfying contact with online communities.

Some 84% of Internet users have contacted an online group. That means that
more Americans have used the Internet to contact a group than have gotten
news online, or searched for health information, or bought a product.

Many of these online groups are far flung and allow Internet users to
connect easily with others around the world who share their passions,
beliefs, hobbies, and lifestyles. At the same time, 26% of online
Americans use the Internet to intensify their connection to their local
community by planning church meetings, organizing neighborhood gatherings,
arranging local sports league operations, coordinating charity activities,
and petitioning local politicians.

These findings represent some hopeful news that the Internet can be a tool
for vigorous social engagement, rather than a technology that spurs
isolation and alienation among users.

· 50% of those who participate in online groups say the Internet has
helped them get to know people they would not otherwise have met.

· More than a third (37%) of those who participate in online groups
say the Internet has helped them meet others from different
generations than their own.

· More than a quarter (27%) of those who participate in online groups say
the Internet has helped them connect with people from different racial,
ethnic, or economic backgrounds than their own.

These results come in a survey of Internet users by the Pew Internet
& American Life Project, a research organization that examines the
social impact of the Internet. They are contained in a report
entitled, "Online Communities: Networks that nurture long-distance
relationships and local ties."

"For vast numbers of Americans, use of the Internet simultaneously
expands their social worlds and connects them more deeply to the
place where they live," says Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet &
American Life Project. "Online groups are comfortable places for people to
congregate and get to know organizations and people they might never have

Many online Americans are using the Internet to connect to
traditional groups that exist in the offline world such as
professional and trade associations, hobby enthusiast organizations,
religious groups, ethnic and racial fraternal organizations, and
political groups. A surprisingly large number of those contacting
online groups (56%) say they became active in a group -- even
traditional, offline organizations -- after they began communicating
with it over the Internet.

At the same time, millions of online Americans now use the Internet
to connect to groups to which they belonged before they began using
the Internet - and they report that their use of the Internet has
helped them become more involved with those groups.

One other encouraging sign is that use of the Internet is drawing new
kinds of people to groups. In particular, young adults and minorities are
using the Internet to participate in all kinds of online clubs and
organizations and this is leading to new forms of civic involvement.

"The network of networks has become a collection of communities,"
said John Horrigan, senior researcher at the Pew Internet Project and
principal author of the report. "Many actively engage in cyber groups
through email and bulletin boards that are lively forums for sharing
ideas, hashing out issues, and making new friends."

The Pew Internet Project study identifies 9 different types of
Internet users who are attracted to online groups. Many belong to
several types: On average, a Cyber Groupie (or someone who has
checked out an online group) has visited 4 different online groups at one
time or another. The different types are:

· The Getting Ahead group - 51% of Internet users who have checked
out trade and professional associations or labor unions.  They are
more likely to be college-educated men.

· The Getting By group - 43% of Internet users who use Internet
groups to mange day-to-day responsibilities, such as parenting or
medical conditions.  Women, especially those in the 35-44 age
bracket, gravitate to this group.

· Belief groups - 56% of Internet users who go to religious online
groups or those relating to spiritual beliefs.  Those in Belief
groups value making personal connections more than the average Cyber

· Lifestylers - 28% of Internet users who go to online groups to
contact people with similar lifestyles.  Lifestylers tend to be men
under age 34 and are among the very active emailers of other online
community members.

· Ethnic and racial groups - 15% of Internet users who have contacted an
ethnic group online.  This is the most racially diverse set of Cyber
Groupies; this group is also younger and more urban than other categories
of online communitarians.

· Civic Engagement group - 45% of Internet users who have contacted
an online group such as a neighborhood association or local
charitable group.  This group is older than average, and active in
emailing online groups close to home.

· Political Groupies - 22% of Internet users who have contacted a
political group online.  This group is mostly educated white males,
and they are among most active emailers of others in online groups,
and report that online groups have deepened their involvement in
groups to which they already belong.

· Entertainment groupies - 60% of Internet users who go to online
groups about TV shows or fan sites of particular performers.  This
Cyber Groupies are younger than average, and have been online longer
than others who go to online groups.

· Sports Junkies - 42% of Internet users go to online groups about
their favorite sports teams or local teams in which they participate.
 These users fit a perhaps predictable profile: they tend to be
suburban men between the ages of 35 and 44.

Here are some other key findings from the survey:

· Men tend to be drawn to online groups involving professional
activities, politics, and sports.

· Women tend to be drawn to online medical support groups, local
community associations that are online, and cyber groups relating to

· Lurking is not prevalent among Cyber Groupies; fully 60% email
their group, 43% several times a week.

· 35% of all Internet users go online for news about their local
community or community events.

· 30% of all Internet users go online to get information about their
local government.

· 11% of Internet users know of a local issue in which the Internet
played a role in organizing citizens to communicate with public

· 51% percent of all Americans know of a place in their community
where the Internet is publicly available. Overwhelmingly, these
places are public libraries. African-Americans are the most likely to say
that their community lacks public access to the Internet; 42% of
African-Americans say their community does not have publicly available
Internet terminals somewhere, compared with 29% of whites and 33% of

The Pew Internet & American Life Project is a nonpartisan,
independent research organization funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts to
study the impact of the Internet on families, communities, health care,
education, civic and political life, and the work place.

^               ^               ^                ^
Steven L. Clift    -    W: http://www.publicus.net
Minneapolis    -   -   -     E: clift at publicus.net
Minnesota  -   -   -   -   -    T: +1.612.822.8667
USA    -   -   -   -   -   -   -     ICQ: 13789183

*** Please send submissions to:  DO-WIRE at TC.UMN.EDU     ***
*** To subscribe, e-mail:  listserv at tc.umn.edu          ***
***         Message body:  SUB DO-WIRE                  ***
*** To unsubscribe instead, write: UNSUB DO-WIRE        ***

*** Please forward this post to others and encourage    ***
*** them to subscribe to the free DO-WIRE service.      ***

More information about the Air-l mailing list