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Committing innermost thoughts to cyberspace

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Almost half of America's Internet users have committed their innermost thoughts to the Web, according to a new survey.

Forty-four per cent of American Internet users have contributed material online, according to a Pew Internet & American Life Project report released on Friday. The non-profit research organisation found that more than 53 million Americans have used the Internet to publish their thoughts, respond to others, share files and contribute generally to the mass of information already online.

The report, entitled "Content Creation Online", notes that "while blogs or personal online journals have captured the attention of the technology community, most of those who have made contributions have done so in less cutting-edge ways".

Twenty-one per cent of Internet users say they have posted photographs to Websites, 17 per cent have posted written material on their own Websites, while 13 per cent have a Website of their own.

"One of the earliest observations about the Internet turns out to be true: anyone can be a publisher on the Web," said Amanda Lenhart, research specialist at the Pew Internet & American Life Project and the lead author of the report. "The online commons is full of virtual chatter and teeming with self-made content. It ranges from the simplest vanities like pictures of 'me and my puppy' to the most profound kinds of political argument - and everything in between."

Responses for the report were gathered during a national phone survey of 2,515 adults between 2003 and early this year.

Those polls show that somewhere between 2 per cent and 7 per cent of US Internet users have created blogs and about 11 per cent of Internet users are blog readers.

Such figures are good news for Google.com, which has attempted to take blogging into the mainstream with its 2003 acquisition of Pyra Labs, a San Francisco company that created some of the earliest technology for writing blogs. The key challenge for Google will be turning an attentive audience into a viable revenue stream.

In that regard, the Pew statistics are promising. Online content creators are evenly divided between men and women. They are more likely to be students, have broadband connections at home, and to enjoy both high levels of household income and education.

© ENN

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