I’m probably the last one to point to this Pew research, but it’s important because it came from Pew, Lee Rainie at Pew Internet does good work, and people tend to pay attention to Pew. Pew says:
Adoption of high-speed internet at home grew twice as fast in the year prior to March 2006 than in the same time frame from 2004 to 2005. Middle-income Americans accounted for much of the increase, along with African Americans and new internet users coming online with broadband at home. At the end of March 2006, 42% of Americans had high-speed at home, up from 30% in March 2005, or a 40% increase. And 48 million Americans — mostly those with high-speed at home — have posted content to the internet.
That last estimate in this summary is what I’m most interested in: "48 million Americans — mostly those with high-speed at home — have posted content to the internet." What does this mean? So many useful and engaging platforms for creating and posting content online simply require broadband to begin with. Consider uploading still images to a photo-sharing site, uploading a home video to a video site, or uploading a sound file, such as a podcast. All of these platforms are destined for greater adoption, if not ubiquity, but they all require broadband access. Chances are slim that you will even post textual content referencing these consumer-generated multimedia platforms, if you don’t have broadband to begin with. So what does all this mean? There is a self-fulfilling prophecy at work here: the more people adopt broadband, the more people will be able to engage in CGM. The more people want to benefit from these CGM platforms, the more they will need to adopt broadband. CGM and broadband have a dichotomous relationship; they will support each other’s continued growth.
Finally, I have no doubts about these survey estimates or Pew’s methodology, but they are precisely that: self-reported estimates among Pew’s sample of respondents. I would like to see Pew collaborate with comScore Media Metrix or Netratings to determine the nuances between how much people say they post content online, and how much they actually do post content online, as observed by computer metering methodology. I used to work at comScore Media Metrix (and even had the pleasure of partnering with Pew while I was there), and it is common to see discrepancies between self-reported and obsesrved behavioral data. This is not to say one methodology is right or wrong, but there are nuances, and combining these methodologies can be very powerful when you leverage the strengths of each.
At the end of the day, I’m still going to cite Pew’s latest data in my own work!