6 May 2007

Pew/Internet typology of information and communication technology users

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Half of all American adults are only occasional users of modern information gadgetry, while 8% are avid participants in all that digital life has to offer.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project conducted a survey designed to classify Americans into different groups of technology users.

At one end of the spectrum, the survey identifies the heaviest consumers, most active users, and happiest denizens of the information society. It also locates those who find great satisfaction in the use of ICT even though they have fewer network resources. In the middle range, the typology highlights some users who have invested a lot in services and hardware, but feel uncomfortable with the extra connectivity. And at the other end of the spectrum, it identifies those who get along – many of them just fine – with a relative scarcity of information goods and services.

The ten groups that emerge in the typology fit broadly into a “high end,” “medium users,” and “low-level adopters” framework. However, the groups within each broad category have their own particular characteristics, attitudes and usage patterns.

  • The elite users of ICTs consist of four groups that have the most information technology, are heavy and frequent users of the internet and cell phones and, to varying degrees, are engaged with user-generated content. Members of these groups have generally high levels of satisfaction about the role of ICTs in their lives, but the groups differ on whether the extra availability is a good thing or not.
  • The middle-of-the-road users consist of two groups whose outlook toward information technology is task-oriented. They use ICTs for communication more than they use it for self-expression. One group finds this pattern of information technology use satisfying and beneficial, while the other finds it burdensome.
  • For those with few technology assets (four groups), modern gadgetry is at or near the periphery of their daily lives. Some find it useful, others don’t, and others simply stick to the plain old telephone and television.

Download report (pdf, 284 kb, 55 pages)
Download questionnaire (pdf, 124 kb, 28 pages)
“Survey defines split in technology use” [USA Today]
“Wired but not Web 2.0? That’s normal, study says” [CNET News]
America: The Growing Digital Divide [TechCrunch]

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