In the history of communication technology the Internet is a relatively new communication tool which has enabled the wide-spread adoption and use of Web 2.0 technologies over the last decade. The changing behaviour of users during this period has been the subject of many academic discussions and much qualitative and quantitative data has been produced in support of this. One such organisation is the Oxford Internet Surveys (OxIS) which has been producing data about the web bi-yearly since 2003. Yesterday OxIS released its 2011 report at the salubrious setting of the Strangers Dining Room in the House of Commons. I was lucky enough to be at the launch and heard many speeches about its findings. The report can be downloaded here.
The main focus of the report is the rise of what they call the ‘Next Generation Users’ in Britain defined as firstly, the increasing proportion of users who use portable devices to access the Internet and secondly, users who have and use multiple digital devices. Internet access via mobile devices has doubled from 24% in 2009 to 49% in 2011. The report states that ”next generation users are not evenly distributed, but have higher incomes, indicating a new digital divide in Britain and most certainly in other nations”. It also indicates that “more than a quarter of the British population [is] without access to the Internet” (p.5).
On the subject of content production the report shows that “next generation users are more likely to be producers than are first generation users who focus more on consumption rather than production” (p.5) This is illustrated with an accompanying graph.
There is certainly useful data in this report relating to my research. Information gathered for the report shows the next generation of users are not solely made up of the youth of the digital age but are from all age groups although people of retirement age are less like to fit into this type of user. The age demographic of next generation of users is, therefore, ”not simply a function of youth or age cohorts” (p.7) the report suggest.