Here's some notes from the key note address given by Kristen Purcell, Associate Director, Pew Internet Project, at the Museums and the Web annual conference in Philadelphia, PA. 

If you don’t look at anything else about online trends, then look at this. Kristen details trends from 2000 to 2010 based on data collected by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Note these are primarily US figures but I believe they have resonance for us in Australia.

Some key points for me:

  • “Today’s digital information is portable, participatory and person”
  • Rise in broadband means “… greater overall engagement in online activities”
  • There does remain a digital divide (but on further reading it seem to me this is only in online, not the mobile space?)
  • At least 1 in 4 US adults live with a disability that interferes with daily living – 54% of these use the internet (compared with 81% who report no disability)
  • 69% watch videos online – not just funny cats!
  • Biggest growth in uploading video online is among women and older adults
  • Laptops are becoming the computer of choice
  • “In 2000, there were no ‘wireless internet users’. Today, 59% of adults go online wirelessly”
  • “55% go online via their phone daily”
  • Overall, wireless internet users are more engaged in online activities
  • African-Americans are the most active mobile internet users”
  • Teens communicate by text, not email
  • More mobile phone users take pictures with their phones than text (76% compared with 72%)
  • 54% of adult mobile phone users send a photo or video, followed by accessing a social network site (23%)
  • “Mobile changes our relationship to time and space – I can get the information I need when I want it, where I want it”
  • “Mobile has increased accessibility for some populations”
  • Teens and young adults are heaviest social network service users – but the user population is becoming more diverse with older adults making up the fastest growing segment
  • Apps are not as popular in use on the mobile, although 29% have downloaded an app and 13% paid to do so, average adult has 18 apps (we are doing some work on this too – more to follow!!)
  • “Apps can bypass search, help answer questions, help solve problems, help accomplish tasks”
  • 71% of US adults get their news online – most popular features of news sites are those that enable sharing, interaction and customisation
  • 70% of adults say they are overwhelmed by the amount of news and information available today (aren’t we all!)

My next post summarises what Kristen thinks these trends mean for museums.