The Internet has dramatically changed the way that we work and play, speeding up business, lowering barriers to business entry, driving discussions about a myriad of topics, and opening doors to entertainment options we might not have been exposed to otherwise. This change has also happened extremely quickly, as only 9% of the entire population had been online in 1995 when Harris Interactive performed its first survey of online usage, the same survey that this year found nearly 80% of adults regularly access the Internet. No medium has ever evolved as quickly as the Internet, and now a third of the users report that they access the Net in “some alternate way,” other than on a computer at work or home.
Nearly 80 percent of U.S. adults go online (News.com)
At the same time, newspaper circulation is down 2.6% across the country as more and more people go to the Internet for their news. The top newspaper in the country, USA Today, has seen a 1% increase in circulation, but virtually every other paper is down, some by 6 to 9 percent. The news isn’t all bad for the traditional media, as a recent study in the United Kingdom shows an increasing number of people supplementing their TV and movie viewing by doing research and using extended features available only online. Educators are also beginning to use the Internet to increase contact with their students through social networking sites like Facebook, though some students report that they prefer to keep their private lives separate from their academic careers. Still, this seems like a losing battle, because the demarcation between online and offline continues to blur as more and more devices keep people connected.
Newspaper circulation off 2.6%; some count Web readers (USA Today)
Internet attracts growing TV audience (mad.co.uk)
Students tell universities: Get out of MySpace! (The Guardian)
I have been on the Net for an extremely long time, and the lines have been blurring for me for quite some time. I have a 6-digit ICQ number, was on Hotmail before Microsoft bought them, and have only used an analog modem once since 1997 (in the hospital after my first son was born). I distinctly remember the day that the President of the company I was Director of Marketing for asked me, “Who in the world is ever going to buy a Web site?” I have not subscribed to a newspaper in about five years, so I have definitely contributed to the decline in print media circulation, but I do see the ways that the Internet supplements traditional media. My wife is constantly looking up TV program ratings, keeping up with which shows are making it and which shows are canceled, and we always decide on what movie to go to through research on the Net.
None of this even talks about the lines being blurred by devices like smart phones, PDAs, and the growing availability of Wi-Fi (they even have Wi-Fi at the McDonalds near my house). Are the borders between the online and offline world blurring for you? Has the Internet reduced or supplemented your consumption of traditional media like newspapers, television, and radio?