Wired but not Web 2.0? That's normal, study says

Most American adults have a computer, a cell phone and Net access, but few use them as a public forum, according to a Pew survey.Chart: What's your tech personality?
Written by Candace Lombardi, Contributor
Although most U.S. adults have a cell phone, a computer and Internet access, a study says only a small percentage are participating in Web 2.0 activities.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project released on Sunday a study (PDF: A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users) of people's "evolving relationships to cyberspace."

Pew found in a survey that 73 percent of U.S. adults own a cell phone, 68 percent have a desktop computer, 30 percent possess a laptop, and 73 percent connect to the Internet, but that very few use them to express themselves publicly via Web 2.0 applications.

The study defines Web 2.0 users as people who take advantage of technology "to express themselves online and participate in the commons of cyberspace," including maintaining a personal Web site, blogging, vlogging, remixing media or sharing new-media creations.

Only 8 percent of U.S. adults are "deep users" of Web 2.0 features, the study found, though many American adults do own the gadgets that enable those functions and use the devices to express themselves privately.

What's your tech personality?

For example, 37 percent regularly use instant messaging, and 41 percent have sent a text message from a cell phone. More than a fourth of U.S. adults have downloaded music files, and 19 percent have shared photos, stories, artwork or videos.

According to Pew, there are currently eight major connection points: desktops, laptops, digital cameras, video cameras, Webcams, media players, cell phones and smart phones.

The Pew study also divides people into 10 tech personalities, falling into three major categories based on which of these eight major tech devices they own and how they use them.

About 55 percent of U.S. adults own a digital camera, and a fifth have a digital-media player such as the iPod. Eleven percent of U.S. adults own a PDA or similar device such as a BlackBerry.

Teenagers, considered to be heavy technology users, were not included in the study. The data was gathered by Princeton Survey Research Associates International through phone interviews of 4,001 adults from February 2006 and April 2006.

Within three major categories of adult tech users in the United States--high, moderate and below average--Pew determined that there are 10 distinct types of tech communicators.

While more than one type might use technology generally the same, the 10 types can be vastly different in their attitudes and priorities when it comes to the way communication tech fits into their life.

Omnivore (8 percent)
Devoted Web 2.0 users of either gender, though usually under 30, who voraciously update personal Web pages, blogs and mashups to publicly express themselves. Likely to watch videos on an iPod or participate in a virtual world. Most social interaction takes place via instant messaging, texting and blogging via a high-speed Internet connection at home and work.

Connector (7 percent)
Mostly female thirtysomethings who have been online since the early 1990s and have a fully loaded cell phone or smart phone. They are happy to use the Internet, usually via Wi-Fi, from either device as a place to manage content and connect for work, community, family, hobby and entertainment interaction. They are twice as likely to blog or have a Web page than the average American.

Lackluster veteran (8 percent)
Been there, done that on the Internet since the mid-'90s and could care less about Web 2.0 or mobile media. Usually fortysomething men who have a laptop and a broadband connection. E-mail and cell phones are seen as essential for work for these users, and they surf the Web to find information, as well as e-mail to stay in touch with family and friends, but the interest ends there.

Productivity enhancer (8 percent)
These moderate users, likely to be fortysomethings of either gender with kids, have a positive view on what the Internet offers, in terms of getting their job done and learning new things. They like to use the Internet to stay in touch with family and friends, but you'll be hard-pressed to find them watching a Lost video clip on a cell phone or laptop.

Mobile Centric (10 percent)
Typically thirtysomething, you'll find these users' cell phones jam-packed with things like video clips and games. They, however, are less enthused about connecting via a computer and have been online only for a relatively short time, compared to other groups. Pew found this group to include a high share of African-Americans.

Connected but hassled (10 percent)
These users have invested in technology and connectivity but see it all as nothing more than modern "intrusive" necessities. Usually females in their late 40s, they are interested enough to invest in broadband accounts, cell phones and digital cameras, but they suffer from "information overload" and couldn't care less if they have lost access to the Web, e-mail or cell phone.

Inexperienced experimenter (8 percent)
Having the necessary technology and desire to join the party but unsure of what to do with it, these usually female fiftysomething users of above-average income are below average when it comes to using the Internet and cell phones. They probably have been online for only five years but have tried a little of everything, including posting a comment to a message board, downloading music or sharing photos via e-mail.

Light but satisfied (15 percent)
Also usually females in their mid-50s who went online in the last five years. They are satisfied with the technology they own and use but do so only occasionally and could easily do without it. While the majority have cell phones, they are feature-light and would not consider using one to replace a landline.

Indifferent (11 percent)
Mostly men in their 40s who do not have broadband, these annoyed users have cell phones and Web access but rarely connect. Their slow connections are "no doubt a barrier" to more actively using the Internet to pursue hobbies and share with others.

Off the network (15 percent)
People in this group, tending to be 65 or older, do not have a cell phone or Internet access. Some have computers or digital cameras.

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