Web is Now ‘Staple Source’ of Info for US Citizens

31 December 2002

Americans are increasingly venturing online for information about healthcare, government services and researching potential purchases, reports a survey published Monday.
The Pew Internet and American Life Project sampled 2,000 US adults during September and October, around sixty percent of whom said they regularly use the internet.

Over eighty percent of web users expected to “find reliable information about news events, healthcare and government services on the web”; while 79% “expect to find” a business with a website from which they can obtain information about a prospective purchase.

Says the study’s author John Horrigan: “With the passage of time, people are gaining more experience and comfort with the internet and what it offers. [They] value the vast array of information online, and new search engines give them the ability to noodle along and find what they want.”

The findings are in line with those of University of Toronto professor Barry Wellman, co-author of the book ‘The Internet and Everyday Life’. Notes Wellman: “Even five years ago, the internet was seen as very special, a privileged and very unique thing. Now it is routinely accepted into peoples lives, especially younger folks.”

North America and other industrialized nations are already incorporating the web into their societal infrastructures. “We now expect the physical hardware to be there, in hotels, in schools,'” says Caroline Haythornthwaite, the book’s co-author and University of Illinois professor. “There's a certain seamlessness to it. In many ways, it is integrated into everything we do.'”

Unlike many such studies there is no direct relationship between the authors and commercial interests connected with the subject of the research. The Pew Research Center, an independent opinion research group that examines attitudes toward the press, politics and public policy, is wholly funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts founded by the children of oil tycoon Joseph Newton Pew who died in 1912.

Data sourced from: CNN (USA); additional content by WARC staff