Current and Future Uses of the Internet.
This study examines the current and future uses of the Internet. The study proceeded by obtaining a sample group of eight volunteers drawn from the four class levels of a rural midwestern university. A group interview was then conducted with questions asked about the intervieweesâ€™ current and future uses of the Internet. These questions were developed using a uses and gratifications perspective. The transcripts of the study were then analyzed and coded into five general use categories. The contents of these five categories have provided an explanation of the sampleâ€™s current uses and possible future uses of the Internet.
The emergence of the Internet as a widely adopted form of mass communication continues to grow by leaps and bounds. The increase in online access by all kinds of Americans highlights the fact that the Internet population looks more and more like the overall population of the United States (Pew Internet 2001). Between May of 2000 and December 2000, adults with access to the Internet increased from 88 million to 104 million (Pew Internet 2001). Not only are the numbers of those with access increasing, but also is the amount and type of content.
The Pew Internet and American Life Project states â€œthe Internet is not only one of the most rapidly disseminating technologies in history, it is alsoâ€”to a degree different from other mass communications technologiesâ€”rapidly evolving as it disseminatesâ€ (2000). New users of the Internet have a range of options undreamed of by the audience of just a few years ago (Pew Internet). This rapid growth and evolution of the Internet will make it a fresh medium for years to come.
As a new medium, the Internet needs to be studied in a way that reflects the vast amount of different types of tasks that its audience uses it for. Newhagen and Rafaeli propose utilizing a uses and gratifications perspective in studying the Internet because of the broad range of communication opportunities that it offers.