May 7, 2007 10:45 AM PDT

Wired but not Web 2.0? That's normal, study says

Although most U.S. adults have a cell phone, a computer and Internet access, a study says only a small percentage are participating in Web 2.0 activities.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project released on Sunday a study (PDF: A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users) of people's "evolving relationships to cyberspace."

Pew found in a survey that 73 percent of U.S. adults own a cell phone, 68 percent have a desktop computer, 30 percent possess a laptop, and 73 percent connect to the Internet, but that very few use them to express themselves publicly via Web 2.0 applications.

The study defines Web 2.0 users as people who take advantage of technology "to express themselves online and participate in the commons of cyberspace," including maintaining a personal Web site, blogging, vlogging, remixing media or sharing new-media creations.

Only 8 percent of U.S. adults are "deep users" of Web 2.0 features, the study found, though many American adults do own the gadgets that enable those functions and use the devices to express themselves privately.

What's your tech personality?

For example, 37 percent regularly use instant messaging, and 41 percent have sent a text message from a cell phone. More than a fourth of U.S. adults have downloaded music files, and 19 percent have shared photos, stories, artwork or videos.

According to Pew, there are currently eight major connection points: desktops, laptops, digital cameras, video cameras, Webcams, media players, cell phones and smart phones.

The Pew study also divides people into 10 tech personalities, falling into three major categories based on which of these eight major tech devices they own and how they use them.

About 55 percent of U.S. adults own a digital camera, and a fifth have a digital-media player such as the iPod. Eleven percent of U.S. adults own a PDA or similar device such as a BlackBerry.

Teenagers, considered to be heavy technology users, were not included in the study. The data was gathered by Princeton Survey Research Associates International through phone interviews of 4,001 adults from February 2006 and April 2006.

Within three major categories of adult tech users in the United States--high, moderate and below average--Pew determined that there are 10 distinct types of tech communicators.

While more than one type might use technology generally the same, the 10 types can be vastly different in their attitudes and priorities when it comes to the way communication tech fits into their life.

Omnivore (8 percent)
Devoted Web 2.0 users of either gender, though usually under 30, who voraciously update personal Web pages, blogs and mashups to publicly express themselves. Likely to watch videos on an iPod or participate in a virtual world. Most social interaction takes place via instant messaging, texting and blogging via a high-speed Internet connection at home and work.

Connector (7 percent)
Mostly female thirtysomethings who have been online since the early 1990s and have a fully loaded cell phone or smart phone. They are happy to use the Internet, usually via Wi-Fi, from either device as a place to manage content and connect for work, community, family, hobby and entertainment interaction. They are twice as likely to blog or have a Web page than the average American.

Lackluster veteran (8 percent)
Been there, done that on the Internet since the mid-'90s and could care less about Web 2.0 or mobile media. Usually fortysomething men who have a laptop and a broadband connection. E-mail and cell phones are seen as essential for work for these users, and they surf the Web to find information, as well as e-mail to stay in touch with family and friends, but the interest ends there.

Productivity enhancer (8 percent)
These moderate users, likely to be fortysomethings of either gender with kids, have a positive view on what the Internet offers, in terms of getting their job done and learning new things. They like to use the Internet to stay in touch with family and friends, but you'll be hard-pressed to find them watching a Lost video clip on a cell phone or laptop.

Mobile Centric (10 percent)
Typically thirtysomething, you'll find these users' cell phones jam-packed with things like video clips and games. They, however, are less enthused about connecting via a computer and have been online only for a relatively short time, compared to other groups. Pew found this group to include a high share of African-Americans.

Connected but hassled (10 percent)
These users have invested in technology and connectivity but see it all as nothing more than modern "intrusive" necessities. Usually females in their late 40s, they are interested enough to invest in broadband accounts, cell phones and digital cameras, but they suffer from "information overload" and couldn't care less if they have lost access to the Web, e-mail or cell phone.

Inexperienced experimenter (8 percent)
Having the necessary technology and desire to join the party but unsure of what to do with it, these usually female fiftysomething users of above-average income are below average when it comes to using the Internet and cell phones. They probably have been online for only five years but have tried a little of everything, including posting a comment to a message board, downloading music or sharing photos via e-mail.

Light but satisfied (15 percent)
Also usually females in their mid-50s who went online in the last five years. They are satisfied with the technology they own and use but do so only occasionally and could easily do without it. While the majority have cell phones, they are feature-light and would not consider using one to replace a landline.

Indifferent (11 percent)
Mostly men in their 40s who do not have broadband, these annoyed users have cell phones and Web access but rarely connect. Their slow connections are "no doubt a barrier" to more actively using the Internet to pursue hobbies and share with others.

Off the network (15 percent)
People in this group, tending to be 65 or older, do not have a cell phone or Internet access. Some have computers or digital cameras.

See more CNET content tagged:
Web 2.0, study, cell phone, Wired Inc., blogging

5 comments

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The point is?
This would be due to the fact that most so called ?Web 2.0? applications serve no real purpose in the daily activities of mature adults. Cell Phones, Laptops and Internet access however, do.
Posted by jleemc44 (22 comments )
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Privacy Anyone?
Excuse me for not putting my life on the web. I value my privacy more than to create a myspace profile and share everything with the world from family photos to my cell number.

Web 2.0 is not for me. Let's not even talk about the waste of time that it is. I'd rather enjoy the great outdoors.

IB
Posted by InnocentBystander (7 comments )
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Adults are "value-users"
We have found that adults will adopt a service that delivers value - i.e. makes their life easy in some way. Its not just about Web 2.0 or user-generated content. Just hanging out online a la teens is obviously not appeal to this demographic segment.

We have parents on our site (www.schoolparent.net) who fit some of the groups in this study. Most of them are moms. Very hard to put them into the buckets (or quantify them) but we probably have Connector users, Lackluster veteran users, Productivity enhancer users, Mobile Centric users, Connected but hassled users, Inexperienced experimenter users.
Posted by anspn (25 comments )
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too diffuse
That's the interesting thing about social anthropology. Reminds me of a University of Maryland professor I had, spoke 45 minutes to make the point that "monkeys don't talk because they have nothing to say". I wished he'd been a monkey.

As for such studies, focus would be more useful. I'd certainly be interested in an in-depth examination of blogging, particularly in the political area.

I wonder where these experts would place me in their chart ... in my 71st year, male, six digital cameras, cell phone I've never used [it was my late wife's], GPS for boat, online for over 20 years, heavy IRC user for three years, no IM etc., Interest best for research, writer, retired engineer, produced one commercial multimedia project a few years ago.
Posted by NoVista (274 comments )
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Interesting
I actually was surprised at some of the numbers. I thought that there would be a larger percent of people who had a desktop/laptop and used the internet for web 2.0. It really put things into perspective. I understand the thought another commenter had about the fact that of course less people are using web 2.0 because it is not making their life faster and easier. The thing is, a lot of people are using it to make their life easier but using it for professional development and a meeting place for great discussions. They are also using it to get themselves out there and as a networking tool. I think as soon as people realize the benefit that does come from this, more will be participating.

Alice- if you are reading this, I posted by first reply to one of these articles on my own blog.
Posted by hrowe (2 comments )
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