Zogby International and 463 Communications released the results last night of an interesting and well executed poll about the attitudes US adults have about the internet. Nearly 10,000 respondents were included and I presume the companies did not seek out the craziest 10,000 people in America (only 20% were from the West Coast, for example) - so these are probably pretty valid results.
To summarize: an alarming percentage of respondents are open to brain implants that allow them to access the internet with their minds and that allow their children's locations to be tracked, they think government censorship of online video content is acceptable, the internet makes them feel closer to God and less close their significant others - but their own identities on the internet are not very important to them. This is frightening stuff.
Among the findings:
* 24% of respondents said the Internet could serve as a replacement for a significant other, including 31% of single people, 31% of self described political "progressives" and 18% of those who consider themselves "very conservative."
* More than 1 in 4 respondents have a profile on a social networking site, including 78% of those ages 18-24, 32% of Democrats and 22% of Republicans. Only 14% of respondents said the internet is an important part of what they consider to be their identity. That's the aggregate number, I'd like to see what percentage of 18-24 say it's an important part of their identity. These numbers may or may not be important for those of us watching digital identity controversies involving data and identity portability and control.
* Brain Implants. Thank you Zogby for asking about brain implants. "How likely would you be to implant a device into your brain that enabled you to use your mind to access the internet if it could be done safely?" 11% of respondents said they were very or somewhat likely to do so. Only 4% said they were not sure! 3 out of 4 said they were not at all likely, but that's not very reassuring.
* Kid tracking chip implants. 18% said they would feel better being able to track their child's where about more than they would feel uneasy putting a device in their child for that purpose. Children do become adults and just imagine if that tracking device could also be used to access the internet! Oh the future, how exciting it is.
* Tracking implants are probably most appropriate for people who generally trust authority figures to watch out for their best interests. If you ever took serious issue with the authorities you'd probably regret having a tracking implant in your arm. How do respondents feel about government control in regard to all this stuff?
More than half of respondents believe that internet content, like video, should be controlled in some way by the government. Only 36% said the blocking of internet video would be unconstitutional. Since uncensored internet video so far has brought our society to the brink of absolute ruin, I can understand those beliefs.
* God. When you're putting a web-enabled tracking microchip implant in your child's brain and calling for government control of online content - how does all of this make you feel about God? So far, 10% of respondents said the internet has made them feel closer to God, including 20% of Born Again Christians. Wait until you get that brain implant that lets you access the internet with your mind - you'll feel like God. Until you fall on the wrong side of that government regulation you were so excited about and are easily tracked by the same chip in your head. Then you'll feel like you're in hell.
You will be, we all will be - thanks in no small part to the beliefs captured in this survey. Mine is just another voice, from someone who spends too much time in the hive mind already, urging you to say no to the implant (and go hug your significant other).