Anyone who reads this blog knows how I cringe whenever reporters and bloggers get a whiff of statistical data that proves or disproves their pet theory. I figure that by the end of the day, a new Pew Research study on how people use information and communication technology (here is the press release) will be cited to prove just about anything someone wants to prove. In a way that is similar to studies that people use to argue blogging has peaked or print is dead, this study will be used by individuals who did everything in their power to avoid college statistics courses, to back up whatever they believed before they read it.
The sound-bite from the study will be that half of American adults are only “occasional” users of informational “gadgetry” while only 8% are avid participants “in all that digital life has to offer.” Here’s the lede of the press release:
“Fully 85% of American adults use the internet or cell phones â€“ and most use both. Many also have broadband connections, digital cameras and video game systems. Yet the proportion of adults who exploit the connectivity, the capacity for self expression, and the interactivity of modern information technology is a modest 8%.
While I strongly discourage you from misapplying the findings of the research, I will make one exception: The report strongly suggests that I am a male in my mid-to late twenties, a finding with which I am in complete agreement.