The latest report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project is called "A Portrait of Early Adopters: Why People First Went Online --and Why They Stayed":
Our canvassing of longtime internet users shows that the things that first brought them online are still going strong on the internet today. Then, it was bulletin boards; now, it's social networking sites. Then, it was the adventure of exploring the new cyberworld; now, it's upgrading to broadband and wireless connections to explore even more aggressively. Yet there are changes in their activities and motives. In the early days, most internet users consumed material from websites. These days they are just as likely to produce material. One common refrain is that they think more change lies ahead and they are eager to watch and participate...
Tastes and technologies do change. Most of those in our respondent pool said that in their early
days on the internet they acted largely as individuals and consumers. That is, they used search
engines; got news; played games; conducted research; downloaded software and emailed
friends, family and colleagues. Many of these activities consisted of serial connections -- people
querying systems, communicating privately with other individuals or with highly-defined
communities. It would take a couple of years (and the addition of new tools) before people in this
group engaged in creative and community processes. Once they had easier-to-use online tools,
faster connections, and more familiarity with the online environment, they say they began to
create and share photos, pieces of writing, videos and audio files. They also began rating
products and tagging content.
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