Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cart-Horse, Chicken-Egg, ?

Who are the publics U.S. PD needs to address? What are the means of addressing the public(s) effectively?

We can find statistics to make a point and Gallup can draw connections that can make sense, but then so can anyone with a computer. This is a point we'll come back to shortly.

According to Internet usage statistics compiled by some likewise reputable institutions, you can take a different slant on Internet penetration. Namely, that penetration may not be all that great (24% worldwide), especially in homes around the world, but the growth rates are ridiculous. Worldwide, Internet usage grew by 338% from 2000-2008. Africa experienced a growth rate of 1,100% and the Middle East saw an increase of 1,296% in that same span of time. Asia Internet uses outnumber North American users nearly 3:1 by my math.

So, blogs matter, and revisit the point of the short paragraph above, anything that anyone can do with a computer matters. The U.S. competing in this channel is an absolute necessity especially as it grows in number and diversity of uses. Some may say that the more traditional means of communication and the corresponding infrastructure should be the focus BUT WE COULD EASILY FIND OURSELVES LEAP-FROGGED AND PLAYING CATCH UP IF A NUMBER OF DEVELOPING COUNTRIES SIMPLY ADOPT NEWER TECHNOLOGIES WITHOUT GOING THROUGH THE DEVELOPMENT OF MORE TRADITIONAL CHANNELS. Think about the role of and penetration of cell phones in the stead of land line telephones in many countries as a for instance.

On the note of discussion regarding the number of people using the Internet at home. I wasn't able to track down exactly how the determination of # of Internet users was made, but if they are only incorporating those with an activated Internet account at home, I would say that the penetration numbers are skewed much lower than the reality. This would be the case because personal Internet service is very expensive through satellite providers even in the U.S. People being the economic beasts that they are would opt for Internet cafes rather than the high prices of Internet at home. In Sierra Leone, for instance, you can spend upwards of USD200-300 per month for the satellite Internet, or you can spend 1000-1500 (equivalent of 33 to 50 cents US) Leones for an hour on the Internet at a shop. It would be an interesting feat to try and keep track of the number of Internet users gaining access this way.

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