At the moment I’m never quite sure whose job (in government) it is to analyse who uses different channels and why, but at least Ofcom cover the digital one. The latest report (20 March 2009), of 58 pages and 37 pages of annexes, presents interesting results and, as the Head of Ofcom is reported to have said at a presentation, comes in direct conflict with the Carter report – Digital Britain – and some of the spin coming from the centre.
Significant variables to online participation are economic group, qualifications and age and it is appearing that the Internet is both supplanting and replacing traditional channels, which is a worrying trend towards disenfranchisement!
What struck me was the section where it was highlighted that the greatest popularity for online activity was for giving views, getting in touch with elected representatives, joining organizations and taking part in surveys and consultations. This was reinforced by the fact that being invited to partake in online consultations was an effective trigger.
It is also clear that there is a desire for traditional channels to remain open, particularly for those without access to, confidence, or trust in the new ones.