Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Participation Matters


As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues to develop its National Broadband Plan, a full range of Internet stakeholders from the nonprofit front lines, local government, corporate and policy worlds met in our nation’s Capitol to discuss bold ideas to network the nation and mark the national release a new report, “A Public Interest Internet Agenda,” from the Media and Democracy Coalition. The event was one of dozens taking place around the world on OneWebDay, September 22, 2009.

Moderator: Nathaniel James, OneWebDay, Executive Director

  • Joaquín Alvarado – Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Senior Vice President, Diversity and Innovation
  • Kenneth Boley – Government of the District of Columbia, Office of Chief Technology Officer, Director of Intergovernmental Initiatives
  • Amalia Deloney – Media Action Grassroots Network, Coordinator and Media and Democracy Coalition, Board Member.
  • Kelley Ellsworth – Byte Back, Inc., Washington DC, Executive Director
  • Amina Fazlullah – U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Counsel, Media Reform and Internet Freedom
  • Susannah Fox – Pew Internet and American Life Project, Associate Director, Digital Strategy
  • Link Hoewing – Verizon, Assistant Vice President, Internet and Technology Issues
  • Joanne Hovis –National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, Board Member
  • John Wonderlich – Sunlight Foundation, Policy Director

Susannah Fox’s statement:

Pew Internet Project data is often used to benchmark where we are with tech adoption in the U.S.  Here is where we stand:

  • 79% of adult Americans have access to the internet.
  • 63% of adults have broadband internet connections at home.
  • 56% of adults access the internet wirelessly on some device, such as a laptop, cell phone, MP3 player, or game console. When we include mobile access in our definition of the internet user population, the differences between African American adults and white adults disappear.

In addition, Pew Internet research shows that, in politics and in health care, participation matters as much as access.

Technology can enable the human connection, creating opportunities for people to gather and share information, to solve problems together. The passion that we saw in the political campaigns last year is matched by the passion we see when someone is trying to save a life, find a better treatment, or just manage the health of a loved one.

We are in the early days of this, but evidence is coming in that patients can contribute to drug discovery. Patients collaborating with doctors, in what is being called “participatory medicine,” can lead to better health outcomes.

42% of all adults say they or someone they know has been helped by following medical advice or health information found on the internet. That’s an increase from 2006 when 25% of all adults said that.

We ask the opposite question, but find it is a flat-liner: 3% of e-patients say they or someone they know has been harmed by following medical advice or health information found on the internet, a number that has remained stable since 2006.

However, we do not have full participation.

While mobile adoption is creating greater access and participation among African American adults, for example, there are other groups who remain disproportionately offline, such as people living with chronic disease or disability. They may be missing out on opportunities, but just as importantly, we are missing their voices in the conversation.

Keep your eye on mobile adoption since “always connected” citizens are likely to be at the forefront, navigating the new health care delivery system and taking advantage of opportunities for political participation.

Pew Internet research shows that mobile could be a game-changer, but only for those who get in the game.

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