2007 Digital Future Project : “Major Shifts in Social Communication and Personal Connections on the Internet”

Results from the sixth-annual 2007 Digital Future Project survey from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center for the Digital Future are in and they’ve found what they call “major shifts in social communication and personal connections on the Internet.”

“More than a decade after the portals of the Worldwide Web opened to the public, we are now witnessing the true emergence of the Internet as the powerful personal and social phenomenon we knew it would become,” said Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center.”

Other highlights include:

  1. Online friends are just as important to people as their offline friends: 43 percent of those who participate in online communities feel “as strongly” about their online buddies as those offline
  2. Online communities and offline action. Involvement in online communities leads to offline actions.
  3. Social activism – Participation in online communities leads to social activism.
  4. Online communities: daily use — A significant majority of members of online communities log into their community at least once a day.
  5. Member interaction — Online communities are online havens for interaction among members;
  6. Online users are posting information — Growing percentages of Internet users are going online to post information, whether on a blog, posting photos, or maintaining a personal Web site.
  7. New friends, online and in person — Internet users are finding growing numbers of online friends, as well as friends they first met online and then met in person.
  8. The Internet does not change the amount of time spent with friends and family face-to-face

What it means: I like Ars Technica’s conclusion: “what this shows is that—due to the proliferation of chat rooms, blogs, sites like MySpace, forums, games, virtual worlds, and other communities online—Internet users are reaching out to more people, not less, as technology critics have feared.” . I also think this is another indication of the emergence of a new breed of online users expecting more interactions from the Web (first blogged about here).

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