researchers at the pew internet & american life project have been busy pumping out reports all summer. first, there was cyberbullying and online teens by amanda lenhart, next there was home broadband adoption by john horrigan and aaron smith, and then, last week, online video by senior research specialist mary madden.
(disclosure: i serve on the project's advisory board and was, in 2001, one of mary's professors at georgetown university.)
online video is fascinating for many reasons including its data that seems to confirm what many of us have felt intuitively: that among US internet users, online video is now mainstream. indeed, 57% of online adults have used the internet to watch or download video. more than three out of four (76%) young adults aged between 18-29 report watching video online. and nearly three-fourths (74%) of broadband users watch or download video online.
moreover, as the report makes clear, many users use online video socially. they watch videos with others, they send and receive links to online videos, they rate videos, they comment on videos, and they upload their own videos.
one of the key strengths of pew internet and american life project's reports - a strength that scholars, journalists, and new media pundits should emulate - is the way they place their object of study (the internet, digital media) within larger cultural, social, and economic contexts. for example, with respect to gender, 63% of men watch and download online video while only 51% of women do so. age is a huge factor: while 76% of internet users aged 18-29 watch video, only 46% of users aged 50-64 do so. education is another factor: 64% of college graduates watch video while 46% of high school graduates or less do so. and, echoing some of the findings in last year's latinos online, written by pew's susannah fox and gretchen livingston, access to broadband is a huge factor: 74% of those who enjoy high-speed connects at both work and home watch video while 31% of those with dial-up do so.
this fall, in a matter of weeks, i'll be teaching both sections of media studies 100, our intro course to the major. i continue to organize the course chronologically - print, radio, film, tv, computer, digital media - a tactic that is becoming increasingly outdated in our current age of convergence. i will certainly assign online video as a reading but am unsure where to put it in my syllabus: under the unit on tv? under video? under music? under digital media? reading through this latest report from pew and speculating where it will go in my syllabus makes me realize once again how fast the medium we use, study, teach, love, and hate is moving, morphing, and growing. thanks mary and thanks pew for helping us keep track.