70% U.S. adults think the internet has been “mostly a good for society”, according to Pew, down from 76% four years ago. (88% think it’s been “mostly a good” for themselves, down from 90%)
But here’s one particularly interesting part:
Most (62% of those with a positive view) mentioned how the internet makes information much easier and faster to access. Meanwhile, 23% of this group mentioned the ability to connect with other people, or the ways in which the internet helps them keep more closely in touch with friends and family.
In other words, sure, connection is part of the case for the internet. But access to information is far more important.
That fits with research I’ve written about before, that we value search engines and maps way more than social media (though email ranks highly as well). Similarly, New York Times readers said they’d give up Facebook well before they’d give up Google.
As I wrote in January:
We don’t need more ways to argue with strangers nor do we need more cheap entertainment. We have a universe of information at our fingertips. We need more services that use it to make us better off.
That’s what the next phase of the internet should be about.