USC Annenberg Internet study finds online communities rising in importance

Posted November 29, 2006

Large numbers of Internet users hold such strong views about their online communities that they compare the value of their online world to their real-world communities, according to the sixth annual survey of the impact of the Internet conducted by the USC Annenberg School's Center for the Digital Future. Among a broad range of findings about rapidly-evolving methods for online communication, the 2007 Digital Future Project found that 43 percent of Internet users who are members of online communities say that they “feel as strongly” about their virtual community as they do about their real-world communities.

“More than a decade after the portals of the Worldwide Web opened to the public, we are now witnessing the true emergence of the Internet as the powerful personal and social phenomenon we knew it would become,” said Center director Jeffrey I. Cole. “The Internet has been a source of entertainment, information, and communication since the Web became available to the American public in 1994. However, in 2006 we are beginning to measure real growth and discover new directions for the Internet as a comprehensive tool that Americans are using to touch the world.”

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