As of this month you can view a summary of the findings from the 2008 Digital Future Report. Check out information on the Center for the Digital Future web site for details on how to obtain a full copy of the report.
I want to highlight one aspect of the findings. According to the report there is a large increase in online communities. But these are not simply friends networking in MySpace and face book. The report notes a growing number of people involved in online communities with a social purpose or cause. People are connecting virtually in order to support, be informed, inform, and unite around social causes. And directly from the summary, “…a large and growing percentage of members — now 55 percent — say they feel as strongly about their online communities as they do about their real-world communities.”
This information blends nicely with my post from yesterday. With the most recent Frontline episode on Kids Growing Up Online, we also see a social networking established around the site. Perhaps this is a temporary network, but you can certainly find vibrant networks of parents and concerned citizens drawn together by this same cause.
While I am probably preaching to the choir, this is one more proof that it is time for us to move beyond thinking about the Internet as technology and start recognizing that it is a place with rich diverse cultures. It is as real as New York City, but far more diverse. The Internet is full of actual people who find deep meaning in their relationships with others in this place.