Stanford, USC, and UCLA: Reports Regarding the Internet's Impact on Society
Stanford, USC 1Stanford, USC, and UCLA: Reports Regarding the Internet’s Impact on Society Edgardo Donovan RES 601 – Dr. Roger Rensvold Module 1 – Case Analysis Monday, July 21, 2008
Stanford, USC 2 Stanford, USC, and UCLA: Reports Regarding the Internet’s Impact on Society In a series of studies regarding Internet usage, Stanford University, USC, andUCLA provide extensive analysis of a large amount of survey data collected to better assess thegrowing social, societal, economic, and educational applications of the Internet. The researchproject was rather superficial and unfocused at first when it first started at Stanford. However,the project continued at UCLA and subsequently at USC maturing into a deeper and moresophisticated body of research taking into account a wide array of uses in an attempt to provemany valid and reliable hypotheses.The methodology of the Stanford University study entitled “Internet and Society A PreliminaryReport” by Norman Nie and Lutz Erbing was eclectic to say the least. Rather than utilizingtraditional means of conducting surveys they relied upon a revolutionary form application toolnamed “Intersurvey” (Nie). What was strange about this was not only that they chose to conductthe survey off of the Internet thereby making it more difficult to take non-Internet users inaccount. By relegating themselves to InterSurvey they practically doomed their chances ateffectively sampling the US Internet user population. Intersurvey was an application exclusively bundled with WebTV which attemptedto market Internet set top boxes to throughout the mid to late nineties. Set top boxes were pricedbetween $300 and $500 relatively cheaper than typical personal computers at the time. Thedemographic targets for these products at the time were low income households and people whowanted to access the Internet without having to learn basic computer operation skills.
Stanford, USC 3 Limiting oneself to a very distinct demographic when attempting to analyze a quasi-universal phenomenon cannot be deemed as an effective example of sampling and is prone toresult in huge inconsistencies. My first impression in reading this study was that it wasconducted between 1995 and 1997. I was shocked to see that it was actually carried out in theyear 2000 when the so called Internet Boom and New Economy period was on the verge ofending. I believe that if Stanford would have conducted a traditional sampling of the US Internetpopulation their results would have portrayed a much more tech savvy and Internet integratedaudience. A positive aspect of the Stanford study was that beyond offering a variety ofdescriptive statistics it attempted to hypothesize social trends involving Internet use such as thenegative correlation between Internet use and TV viewing (Nie). Similar negative correlationswere found when Internet use was juxtaposed to absorbing traditional media, spending time insocial environments, and shopping in stores. These hypotheses were supported by the data in thesurvey and formed the foundation for the subsequent successes of the study as it later passedonto UCLA and USC. The UCLA study’s goal was to explore how the Internet influences social, political,cultural, and economic behavior and ideas, as measured by the behavior, attitudes, values, andperceptions of both Internet users and non-users (Cole). It continued from where the Stanfordstudy left off albeit with a more open and traditional survey process thereby portraying a moretech savvy and Internet integrated audience. The study offers a solid view of the Internet’scurrent use and impact in school, the workplace, the home, and as a social space. The report didnot offer insight on how the survey was conducted nor what questions were asked. The question
Stanford, USC 4and answer option context can play a big role in shaping the results of a study. Given themagnitude of this work one must ask whether there is a law of decreasing returns in terms ofvalidity and reliability when you present such an extensive survey for completion. Perhaps thesurvey was partitioned and sampled out randomly thereby avoiding this problem. However, wehave no way of knowing this. This research has great value as an information tool for the greaterpublic but is somewhat less accommodating to the needs of the sharp focused businesspractitioner due to the lack of depth in certain areas such as the impact of the Internet on workerproductivity The USC research report entitled “A Longitudinal International Study of the Individualand Social Effects of PC/Internet Technology” by the Annenberg School of Communicationsoffers us a glimpse of a mature research work that has actually evolved into a seeminglysuccessful commercial enterprise (Annenberg). The 2008 version of this report only offers us asynopsis of some of the questions and causal relationships discussed in the report available forpurchase. Similarly to the UCLA research, we cannot analyze the survey construct. Actual datais not discussed. However, by virtue of the sheer number of questions ranging from 10 to 25 inareas such as media use, communication, and children we can see that there has been an attemptto delve deeper into issues which in the UCLA report were addressed within single questions orconstructs. In a series of studies regarding Internet usage, Stanford University, USC, and UCLAprovide extensive analysis of a large amount of survey data collected to better assess the growingsocial, societal, economic, and educational applications of the Internet. The research project wasrather superficial and unfocused at first when it first started at Stanford. However, the project
Stanford, USC 5continued at UCLA and subsequently at USC maturing into a deeper and more sophisticatedbody of research taking into account a wide array of uses in an attempt to prove many valid andreliable hypotheses. Bibliography Annenberg School. (2006). A longitudinal international study of the individual and social effects of PC/Internet technology. The University of Southern California.
Stanford, USC 6Cole, Jeffrey (2000). Surveying the digital future. UCLA Center for CommunicationPolicy.Garson, D. (2007). Reliability analysis. Statnotes.Martens, B. (2004). Hitchhikers guide to hypotheses. Retrieved on 10 August 2008 fromhttp://www.theorywatch.com.Nie, Norman (2004). A preliminary report. Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Studyof Internet and Society.