Interesting stuff, as ever, at the Pew Internet & American Life Project web site. This time, on the contrary evidence to our common assumptions about new technologies. While many take it as a given that new technologies distract us from real-world social interaction, and encourage our cocooning into digitally-connected isolation, recent survey data suggests otherwise. Says the summary:
People’s use of the mobile phone and the internet is associated with
larger and more diverse discussion networks. And, when we examine
people’s full personal network — their strong and weak ties — internet
use in general, and use of social networking services such as Facebook
in particular, are associated with more diverse social networks.
Of particular relevance to place-based arts organizations, the survey also found that Internet and mobile phone users were actually more likely to visit public or semi-public spaces than their non-connected counterparts. Specifically:
- Compared to those who do not use the internet, internet users are
42% more likely to visit a public park or plaza and 45% more likely to
visit a coffee shop or café.
- Bloggers are 61% more likely to visit a public park than internet
users who do not maintain a blog, or about 2.3 times more likely than
Basic economics defines goods and services as either complements or substitutes — complements are purchased and consumed together (as demand for one goes up, the demand for the other does too), substitutes are goods or services that can be used in place of one another (if the price or availability of one becomes a burden, you can switch to the other). As a provider of goods or services, it’s a large part of your job to understand which one of these you offer.
All of which begs the conversations in the lively arts that on-line media and social networking is a substitute for what we do, and should be feared. If it’s a complement, we should be feeding the fire.