NZers online and not – WIPNZ survey

At $50 for a hard copy I’ll be reading the results of the the World Internet Project survey of NZ internet use available freely on AUT’s website.

At a pre-release briefing for important people, the good people who paid for the survey and other hangers on (including the likes of me), we talked about the reliability of the data in the survey.

Yes, the survey sample was sizeable at 1,500 people and we were assured it is representative of the NZ population. However, as it was a phone survey the habits and views of those people without a landline are not reflected.

When you then muse on the fact that those on household incomes of under $25,000 have the lowest levels of reported internet access – something that I can’t find a reference to anywhere in the final report – I begin to wonder if a different data collection method would show an even lower level of access. We just don’t know.

The worrying persistence of a divide between information haves and have nots is probably more to do with a growing underclass in NZ than the price of internet connectivity. Regulating to increase competition won’t address basic structural inequality in society. I’m hoping the results might spur some debate along these lines.

In other data reported, it’s helpful to see how common the habit of checking Facebook is – 28% of New Zealanders who are online use some social networking sites. And apparently we’re top bloggers.

The WIP survey is a useful and up-to-date companion to the Statistics department’s Household ICT use survey from the last quarter of 2006.

There’ll be a second WIP survey next year, and then there’s the other 25 odd countries running the same survey. Plenty of numbers if that’s your thing.

Findings in a nutshell (as reported in the NZ Herald article “Kiwis top of international survey for blogging”):

Of the 78 per cent of New Zealanders who use the internet:
* 66 per cent have broadband.
* 77 per cent check their email every day.
* 28 per cent use social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook.
* 25 per cent have made a friend online, and half of those have gone on to meet an online friend in person.
* 13 per cent maintain their own website.
* 10 per cent have a blog.

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