Where Are We Now? Contours of the Internet in Canada

David Crowley (McGill University)

The rise of a global Internet poses a diversity of opportunities and challenges for Canadians. Predictably it also elicits rhetorical excess: that the Net will annihilate the barriers of geography and historical circumstance, or that the Net's borderless architecture manifestly plays into the hands of global actors; that the messaging capabilities of new media will make the Internet a seamless part of enhanced social life, or that it marks the rise of new forms of deception and social alienation; that the Web supports new forms of civic engagement allowing us to talk with anyone anywhere, or that it will privatize the public sphere, removing us further from our traditions of public participation. Such rhetorical dualisms, Steven Woolgar (1999) says, help to explain why as consumers and users we are so frequently confused and disappointed by sociotechnical change.

Canadian communication researchers and educators should welcome the new communicational environment and the opportunity to play a role in its public understanding and further development. Recent data collected through a variety of national and international research projects is giving us a better sense of the trend lines in Internet development. We are beginning to get some purchase on the forces at work in shaping the Internet, the players and the backstage machinery, and how these compare and contrast across geographical and historical circumstances. A growing body of evidence on public concerns gives us some sense of what might undermine the Internet's broad base of support. Finally, there are provisional optics for looking at some of the content characteristics of the Internet, data that profile actual user activity indicate to some extent the scope and scale of content flows and audiences. Reflective practitioners are beginning to make us aware that research on human subjects has a complex ethical relationship to the virtual, especially as case-based studies and participant inquiries give us some feel for how the Net looks from the inside out.

Two complementary types of data bookend current quantitative research, on which the present meta-analysis is based: media use surveys, specifically focused on the Internet, and Internet audience research, which generally produces ranking scales for the popularity of content categories and site sources. These research strategies are essentially aimed at understanding needs by looking at attitudes and perceived patterns of use.1 They tell us something about the state of informational opportunities for Canadians and the visibility of Canadian content on-line - and where the challenges are most apparent.2

The contours of the Internet in Canada

How we are connected

Household access to the Internet in Canada continues to grow, even as many of the products and services and revenue models for the Internet have proven unviable. Demographic gaps apparent in earlier stages of Internet development have narrowed, notably in participation by women, Francophone Canadians, and minorities. Connectivity among households with annual incomes of less the $36,000 has risen rapidly in recent years and begun to moderate the disparity with higher income households. Regionally, once low-access areas in Quebec and parts of Atlantic Canada now show some of the highest growth. The rural and remote remain major exceptions, continuing to lag urban areas and in general showing less growth and lower access.

Since 2001, the rate of growth has slowed, but growth patterns continue to show that households have become the primary point of access by a wide margin, following earlier patterns of domestic development set by telephony, radio, and television (see Table 1).

Table 1: Canadians accessing the Internet
Head Head
Canadians on-line in 2001 63%
Youth on-line 99%
Households on-line 51%
Those using the Internet at work 28%
Those using the Internet at school 20%
Those using the Internet at libraries 7%
Sources: Statistics Canada, Household Internet Use Survey 2001; Ipsos-Reid, June 2001; Media Awareness Network-Environics Research Group, 2001

Much as the Pew Internet (2001) surveys have shown in the United States, the population of Internet users in Canada is coming to resemble the demographics of the country at large - and reproducing some of the same disparities. When Internet penetration rates are broken out by location of use and household income, some of these disparities are dramatic. At-home Internet use, for instance, has tripled over the past four years, reaching 51% by January 2002, much of that growth coming from middle-income households. Children continue to be a large factor influencing home computer ownership and connectivity, but workplace connectivity also figures strongly in whether there is connectivity at home. This suggests on the face of it that motivating influences to purchase home connectivity flow from the school (in the case of households with children) and from the workplace, where higher income levels correlate closely with connectivity. Although it is changing, households in the highest-income quartile are still four times as likely to have the Internet at home and nine times more likely to have the Internet at work than households in the lowest-income quartile.

In general, education levels are also a good predictor of Internet use. This should not be a surprise given the origins of the Internet in the research and scholarly communities, but it continues to be a predictor of Internet users generally and of heavy users in particular. Overall, 80% of those with university degrees are Internet users and 70% of all users have some university or college education. Still, the current trend of Internet development continues to tilt away from its educated-elite origins. Today, almost a third of those with less than high-school education are Internet users - a fraction that is growing rapidly.

While Internet connectivity rates increased in all provinces annually over the past two years, British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario maintain the highest overall rate of connectivity. The lowest rate of connectivity was in Quebec, but this is misleading. Since 2000, Quebec has had the biggest proportionate growth in connectivity and, along with Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, the highest growth rate for at home access.

Gender differences continue to drift toward parity among active Internet users. Internet use moves above 90% for girls and boys below age 15. This rough equivalence between the sexes shifts slightly through the teenage years, favouring girls in early teen years and boys in later teen years. The point is that virtually all teens are on-line today, or strongly motivated to get there, and the presence of teens and children in the household tends to predict higher levels of access for women as well. Women also seem to be moving ahead of men among new users, those who started using the Internet in the past year. Interestingly, the rate is now rising among women 50 and over, and among men over 55, the cohort who previously had shown the least interest in the Net.

Although the gap is narrowing among older Canadians, this is one area where the deficit in informational opportunities appears most daunting. Among the over-55 group, Internet use drops below 20%, and below 15% for women. The majority of the elderly (75 and older) are not on-line, are not comfortable with computers, and say they are not motivated in that direction. Even here, however, Internet use in households headed by seniors has risen sharply in recent years, albeit from a low starting point.

A jaded demographer might say that some of the age disparity resolves itself, in that over time the older population will absorb those age cohorts that are more computer literate and connected. Meanwhile, many organizations have plans for reshaping and transforming their relations with the public in the near future and in ways that need to accommodate the fastest growing segment of the population by means other than attrition. Statistics Canada, in its recent study on Internet use among older Canadians, argues that the continued exclusion of older people from the mainstream carries real economic and social risks "insofar as it may place limits on plans for business and government transformations made possible by the new medium" (August 2001).

Barriers to Internet use (see Table 2) have been tracked since the mid-nineties, most comprehensively under the rubric of the digital divide. The digital divide is increasingly understood as a global phenomenon, with the focus on identifying and understanding differential growth rates and uneven development in informational resources. Since 1998, global data have been collected from periodic surveys and aggregated to provide comparative perspectives within and among both the developed and developing worlds. There is a pattern here, one that is influenced significantly by country policy: in early diffusion stages, the cost of computers and access charges are often prohibitive and the perceived need for Internet access is often quite low. Later, pushed by incentives and opportunity - including a wide variety of strategies for access involving community and educational facilities - costs mitigate and perceived need rises sharply. In Canada, for instance, non-users citing "lack of need" as why they are not on-line has declined yearly to now less than 7%, while the barriers of cost and access have declined more slowly.

Table 2: Barriers to Internet use for non-users
Cost 28%
Access 27%
Time 18%
Skills 13%
No need 7%
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey 2000, Respondents 15+

Today, non-users are disproportionately older, mainly senior citizens; they have lower household income and are less educated than Internet users and less educated than the population in general. Non-users are also more likely to be located in rural and remote settings.

There are other concerns raised by digital divide studies, notably that some barriers to entry may be tractable longer term, as for instance the challenges posed by illiteracy and innumeracy, but that for other potential users the associated technological imperatives may clash with their values and with religious practices. Technological literacy may be a high hurdle for some, but an unwelcome affront for others. Dealing with these differences in a pluralist society will be a challenge. However, as the Internet itself pushes information technology (IT) skills further toward ubiquity and ease of use, it may make sense to see IT skills in historical relation to other communication tools and skills, such as writing and print technologies, and the skill sets associated with audio and video production. On the one hand, there is little hard evidence to suggest that such skill sets and their tools have been inherently culturally distorting. On the other, the impact of IT in transforming the workplace is a strong reminder that technologically driven changes carry both enabling and disabling consequences. It is interesting to note the example of indigenous peoples, notably North American Indian and Inuit, who have adopted the Internet in much the same spirit they showed toward earlier small-scale versions of publishing, radio, and television, as opportunities to re-invigorate indigenous language and culture and as supports for a variety of traditional and modern values. Examples such as these underscore the sense in which the Internet is encountered as a ubiquitous global network and embraced as a local (and culturally) adaptive tool.

The diversity of needs notwithstanding, it should not be a complete surprise that a majority of Canadians support some form of universal access to the Internet (72%) and also strongly support the removal or amelioration of barriers (see Table 3). This is roughly similar to early-stage formation of public opinion on other electronic media. However, on this and most other issues of access and connectivity, the evidence suggests that the public believes responsibility for mitigating these issues should be broadly based, not narrowly assumed. Unlike universal-service issues in the past, there is today an established range of opinions in the public mind on how best to address current gaps and shortfalls.

Table 3: Importance to Canadians of universal access to the Internet ("How important is universal access to the Internet?")
Very important 45%
Somewhat important 27%
Not very important 25%
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey 2000, Respondents 15+

There are some blind spots in the current Internet profile. We do not have an accurate profile on the North. Statistics Canada's General Social Survey data used here is not collected on the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, and no other independent sources currently exist. Partly as a consequence, there is limited data on indigenous perspectives - Indian, Inuit, and Metis. Data on people with disabilities and those who are institutionalized (long-term care facilities, prisons, et cetera) is also limited or not publicly available.

How we say we use the Internet


E-mail has been called the killer app of the Internet, with considerable justification. Although there remain significant concerns among the user population about privacy and security of e-mail, there is no doubt about its ubiquity. Most Internet users (93%) make use of e-mail (see Table 4). Among the adult population, the gap has closed between male and female users, and younger adults are by some measures now the highest everyday users. Intriguingly, first-generation immigrants are heavier everyday users of e-mail than other Canadians. Underscoring the borderless-world hypothesis of the Net, 71% of foreign-born Canadians use e-mail to communicate outside the country, and 43% of Canadian-born Internet users do so as well.

Table 4: Most popular Internet activities (based on regular household users)
1. E-mail 93%
2. Browsing 90%
3. Finding medical and health information 57%
4. Finding travel information 54%
5. Finding news 50%
6. Formal education and training 47%
7. Government information and services 47%
8. Finding financial information 46%
9. Games 45%
10. Obtaining music 44%
11. Sports 43%
12. E-banking 36%
13. Finding employment information 30%
14. Chat rooms 27%
15. Purchasing goods and services 24%
16. Radio listening 23%
Source: Statistics Canada, Household Internet Use Survey 2001

E-mail is also the killer app for older users. For older Canadians e-mail is more closely associated with maintaining family ties than it is for the population at large. As with the population at large, e-mail is used for keeping in touch with friends (about three-quarter of older users, in line with the population, although below that for youths).

E-mail also underscores an important duality in the Internet, a duality that has become much more deeply entrenched with the widespread popularity and use of the World Wide Web. There are in effect two Internets today, complementary and parallel: a content-based Internet that so far has favoured the free and open distribution of textual, acoustic, and visual materials; and an interpersonal Internet that is strongly based in messaging activities, among friends, families, affinity groups, and workplace and professional networks. The dual Internets each have important social and cultural dimensions, but the messaging culture is in some ways the most dynamic and the greatest challenge to research and analysis.

The information Internet

At the same time the Internet is evolving as a facilitator of social communication and interaction, especially for youths, it continues to be an important information utility, especially for adults (see Table 5). There is ongoing debate about how to categorize Internet content - and standards are evolving slowly - however, in aggregate the Internet does fulfill a variety of information functions that rival and surpass those of other media. Many of these on-line information functions have been relatively stable for several years now, and most are used for essentially passive forms of information search and retrieval. Many Internet experts believe that the popularity of the Internet as an information utility will carry over into the development of greater depth of functionality and interactivity and that users will become comfortable using the Internet as a proxy for a range of interactions with organizations and public institutions.

Table 5: The Internet as an information utility (Percent of Internet users who have searched for information on-line in the past month)
Arts, entertainment, or sports 56%
Travel 45%
Business / economic news 34%
Work / job search 30%
Telephone listings 27%
Computers / Internet 27%
Local community service or activities 26%
Government labour market programs 10%
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey 2000

Profiles of content use vary somewhat with age: older Canadians, for instance, see the Internet as a source for information on goods and services, for news, and for health information. Reflecting realities, interest in health tends to be quite specific: diseases and drugs for older Canadians, more or less the opposite of health information among the younger population, which focuses on lifestyle issues, such as exercise and diet.

Marshall McLuhan's original insight into the convergence controversy seems to apply here. McLuhan claimed that a new medium tends to make the content of older media its own initial content. That does seem to apply to the current stage of the Internet as information utility. The popularity of music downloads and the on-line reproduction of limited versions of magazines and newspapers are two prominent examples. Neither activity depends upon the advanced capabilities of the Internet, although music swap sites have attracted the interest of the music industry, which has moved to curtail the Net's development as a secondary distribution channel. Beyond this, however, as shown in Table 6, Internet usage shows little compelling evidence of more elaborate stages of convergence, such as video on demand, interactive audio, and advanced forms of video conferencing.

Table 6: Media convergence ("Do you do any of the following activities through the Internet?")
Listen to music 44%
Read news / magazines / books 37%
Listed to news / sports 18%
Talk on the phone 8%
Watch TV 5%
Source : Statistics Canada, General Social Survey 2000

As the new media in town, one of the consequences of the Net's arrival is to force regular users to play a zero-sum game with how they spend their time. Unlike television, which for the most part is viewed in the home, the fact that the Internet can be accessed from several locations (at home, work, school, and in certain public places, such as libraries and kiosks) makes it hazardous at best to compare. Still, regular Internet users see at least two trends in their personal time management (see Table 6). Firstly, they see television as the big loser; 27% of regular Internet users say they watch less TV as a result of the Internet. Fifteen percent (15%) say they spend less time reading books, magazines, and newspapers, although these comparisons have not yet been matched up with data on actual content shifts, and there is as yet no corroborating data of declining print media usage. Perhaps more controversially, 17% of users say they spent less time interacting with friends or with family.3

Table 7: Effects of the Internet on Canadians' personal time management ("How did the Internet affect time spent on other activities in 2000?")
27% of users watched less television
15% of users spent less time reading books, magazines, and newspapers
17% of users spent less time interacting with friends and family
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey 2000

Some evidence does suggest that heavier users (those who spend more time on-line) are spending less time socially. This seems possible, if only because the time spent on-line is for the most part time spent alone; and two studies, one conducted in 2000 by a team at Stanford University and another earlier study done at Carnegie Mellon University, lent considerable credence to the idea that heavy users were losing contact with their social environment, at least until both were significantly revised earlier this years based on more recent data. Other research has failed to confirm the heavy user thesis, or at least not to the same degree; and several studies (from the Pew Project, the University of Toronto, and the UCLA Internet Project, among others) indicate that users see a positive impact from the Internet on their social relations. Then there is the difficulty suggested by the duality of the Internet itself, notably by its uses for social communication, through e-mail, instant messaging, and other forms of chat. What appears socially isolating in the act may well be socially cohesive in the intent. In fact, the data from the Media Awareness Network-Environics Research Group survey (June 2001) suggests that for youth at least the Internet is primarily a social medium.

One thing that emerges from the collection of systematic data on Internet use - and the debates and disputes the interpretation of that data inspire - is just how much the Internet has become a climate of opinion. Such a climate of opinion brings with it the obligation to understand the distinctiveness of points of view. In this sense, much of the data we have is suggestive at best, and because so much of it is based on extrapolations from individual use, it is socially and culturally incomplete. How should future research accommodate the challenges of an emerging mosaic of users and what they do on-line - and off-line? What for that matter is useful knowledge for us to have - and where does research become intrusive of groups and individuals? These issues are particularly important with regards to the knowledge gaps that are already apparent, those mentioned with respect to the North and aboriginal cultures, the disabled and the institutionalized, to which we could add knowledge gaps about recent immigrant cultures and their complex relations to homelands, or migrant populations, or diasporas, and groups of all sorts in relation to health information and therapeutic interventions - all significant gaps in the research paradigm presently.

The research community is only beginning to work out a response to the distributed character of the late modern period, for which the Internet itself seems to be a wonderful - and for some a fearful - proxy: the continuous flow of peoples, the fluidity of work life, the consequences of connectedness, the risks of exclusion, the challenge of on-line rights and responsibilities of communities of users.

Forces driving the Internet today

If the data cited so far leave the impression that the contours of connectivity - and its underlying technologies - have shaped behaviour and provoked expectations, there is also evidence for how Canadian society may be giving shape to the Internet in turn. Again, it is a provisional look based on current data.


The Internet has become a ubiquitous tool for Canadian youth. This has manifested itself in several ways: it has become part of a new skill set at school, redefining the way things are done; the Internet has impacted family life and has become a new centre within the household; and the Internet has altered the social life of youth, and especially teens, reshaping how they interact with friends and peers. In scope and scale, the youthful embrace of the Internet has also fuelled parental concerns about values, standards, and responsibilities, concerns that underscore a sense of public unease about the social and cultural consequences of the Internet's evolution. Allied to these are concerns about the effects of time spent in front of the screen and how the line is to be drawn between appropriate and inappropriate content.

There is no doubt that computers and the Internet at school have pushed the adoption of at-home access. The Media Awareness-Environics (June 2001) study of youth on-line estimates that at-home access is relatively uniform for youth between ages nine and 17, and that the age of first access has been dropping steadily, with solid indications that about half of all children begin to use the Internet between the ages of eight and nine. It is clear that the Internet has become a new centre in the home, one that plays strongly to the individual tastes and habits of youth.

For schoolwork, the Internet has become the tool of choice (see Table 8). In fact, the importance of the Internet as a preferred information source may be even greater than we assume. Of those youth who use the Internet, 63% use it for homework and 37% say they use the Internet specifically to look up information about Canadian events, history, people, or places.

Table 8: Where youth go for homework information
The Internet 44%
Books from the library 19%
Books from school 16%
Source: Media Awareness Network-Environics Research Group, Young Canadians in a Wired World, June 2001

This rise of the Internet as an information utility underscores the way in which information technology skills are becoming ubiquitous skills and an extension of literacy and numeracy.

Apparently, the Internet also generates its own perceptual divide. While parents idealize the Internet and value it for its educational benefits (66%), by contrast only 24% of youth see education as the biggest benefit. As Table 9 and Table 10 suggest, realities may differ. the And older youth see other benefits - social uses, convenience, and entertainment - all ranking above education.

Table 9: What youth report as their main Internet activities
Downloading music 57%
E-mail 56%
Surfing for fun 50%
Playing games 48%
Getting information (not homework related) 41%
Instant messaging (IM) 40%
Visiting chat rooms 39%
Homework 38%
Source: Media Awareness Network-Environics Research Group, Young Canadians in a Wired World, June 2001
Table 10: How parents believe their children use the Internet
Homework 65%
Socializing / Entertainment 29%
Playing games 28%
Visiting chat rooms 6%
Source: Media Awareness Network-Environics Research Group, Young Canadians in a Wired World, June 2001

This differentiation around benefits carries over to time spent on-line. Young Canadians see dual Internets - an educational/informational/entertainment Internet and a parallel Internet that is driven by social values and interpersonal uses. Older youth especially place a premium on the Net's social value for communicating with peers. E-mail, for instance, is predominantly viewed as a vehicle for social communication, with friends (67% often, 27% sometimes), and with family members (22% often, 51% sometimes). By contrast, instrumental uses of e-mail (for contact with teachers, for instance) are given minimal value.

Instant messaging deepens the differentiation between youth and parents and reinforces the sense of a generational divide. Instant messaging has expanded exponentially in the past few years. Its popularity is greatest among older youth, and it is becoming the modality of choice for being in touch with friends. This again underscores an important duality in the Internet: a Web-based Internet that emphasizes content (news, information, and entertainment); and a messaging-predicated Internet, primarily focused on friendships and social relations with peers. The former is a valued tool and a proxy for traditional forms of information; the latter has become an indispensable component of social life.

The extent to which youth culture itself now drives youth adoption of the Internet can be seen in the dynamics of first use. Although parents and teachers remain established sources for learning about the Internet, in recent years that role has diminished, while the role of peers and independent individual initiative has risen (see Table 11). Several factors seem to be at work here. Ease of use has steadily improved: browsers have standardized around the WIMP interface (Windows, Icons, Menus, and Pull-downs); gateways, in the form of portals, search engines, and directories have become user-friendly and age-oriented points of entry, consolidating and stabilizing the choice of on-line "destinations." If peers are a source of early learning about the Internet, peer relations are an increasingly powerful motivator for keeping them there.

Table 11: Where youth learn about the Internet
From peers 54%
On their own 47%
From parents 27%
From teachers 22%
From older siblings 21%
Source: Media Awareness Network-Environics Research Group,Young Canadians in a Wired World, June 2001

While much of the experimental interaction has gone out of the Internet, chat rooms and interactive spaces remain a big draw. Six in 10 youth visit chat rooms, and the number of users is strongest among those in secondary school and among those using the Internet more frequently at home.

The Media Awareness-Environics study, contrasting as it does the views of youth and the views of parents, reveals the growing disparity between adults and youth over the Internet. More than half of youth, especially secondary school youth, think their parents know less about the Internet than they do. Parental concerns grow in part from the recognition of these growing Internet skills on the part of youth and in part from parental concerns about the openness and accessibility of the Internet to both content and to interaction with others. Unease on the part of parents is reinforced by related factors: by the declining age of first encounter with the Internet (now somewhere around eight years old) and the degree to which Internet "savvy" springs from peer groups and from independent exploration.

The Media Awareness-Environics research is exemplary in providing some insight into the distinctive worlds of youth and parents (see Table 12). Such comparative research designs are helpful in making it clearer how the worlds of parents and youth can diverge even as they converge on the importance of the Internet. It dramatizes a two-fold deficit: that adults are now falling behind youth in their on-line skills even as the workplace is developing for adults as a key pathway of informational skills and Internet access outside the home. A related aspect identifies divergent ways in which the social dimensions of the Internet are being embraced by parents and by youth.

Table 12: Parental communication about children's on-line activity
Parents that think they talk about it quite a bit 78%
Kids that think their parents talk about it very little 70%
Source: Media Awareness Network-Environics Research Group,Young Canadians in a Wired World, June 2001

Rules, monitoring, and supervision are all options that parents - and, by extension, teachers - consider useful for youth and essential for younger Internet users. However, these sorts of options run into supervisory challenges: children can be home alone or at friends', and methods such as computer locks, monitoring software, and ISP filters are unpopular (and used by less than 10% of households). Rules - and values training - remain the most endorsable option: not visiting certain sites, not giving out personal information, not meeting in person someone encountered on-line, speaking up about Internet content or experiences that are discomforting, not talking to strangers in chat rooms, and restricting time on-line (by quantity and by presence of adults). Yet more than a third of households do nothing to monitor their children's Internet use.

In much current research, teachers are a muted presence, as are school administrators, but they are essential actors if schools continue to emerge as the new centres for community - for the deepening of social communication skills and the supporting of information technology on which parents and youth have so awkwardly converged.

Schools may be centres of consequence in another way; they can help us to appreciate where the tipping points are that would push positive expectations about the Internet over into potentially negative public concerns. This dynamic of expectations and concerns - exhibited so strongly by parents - sets the stage for understanding other current drivers of Internet growth in Canada - and the role of other stakeholders.

Professionals, scholars, and training

Although the pace of growth of technologies in the workplace has slowed recently, the scope and scale of that influence suggests that within the coming decade, half of all jobs, old and new, will require significant IT skills (National Roundtable on Learning, 2001). These evolving skill sets now cut across all knowledge domains, from design and production through management and services to the professions, research, and scholarship. Closely allied to the importance of the new digital skills is the assumption that over time the interplay of skills and electronic networks will encourage formation of new communities of practice, along with new possibilities for knowledge-sharing and sites for social and cultural life.

Electronic education, of course, contains large measures of both hype and reality, and Canada has been at the forefront of both. The hype revolves around the role of electronic education in transforming traditional education institutions; through what traditional education institutions have achieved electronically to date has been limited for the most part to a cautious repositioning on-line of the usual stuff - course material, readings, exercises, and reference works. This mirrors to some extent how the information and entertainment industry has been transposing its own traditional products, especially newspapers and magazines. The process is designed to play to expectations, while in theory limiting the potential disruptiveness of a competitive modality. These tactics sidestep many of the human resource challenges that a more deliberate move on-line would raise for faculties, teachers, administrators, unions, and other stakeholders, including the elaborate pre-existing system of business-to-education support.

The reality of e-education is that a few low-profile functions of education and training have moved aggressively into the new modalities. Many aspects of administration, from registration to procurement, have already migrated to network software, and corporate training has significantly shifted its allegiances to electronic modalities and a strong emphasis on information technology skills. Research libraries and most libraries with sizeable collections have moved aggressively into electronic formats. The professions have been early adopters of interactive software for specialized training and skills upgrading. But perhaps the most powerful outcome of the reality beyond the hype is the linkage that has been established between university-based research, government sponsorship, and the corporate sector to promote enterprise networks and knowledge-sharing environments, often in association with urban centres, and awkwardly referred to as technopoles.4

Because all of this is so new, and because there are in fact only pockets where all this has some scope and scale, it is difficult to say where we should look to gain a useful perspective. Should we, for instance, focus on the educational delivery system per se, or on the ways in which the Internet seems to be fostering these expanded communities of practice, in and around traditional centres of learning. A number of sociological conceptions have tried to capture the interplay of how networks and knowledge workers are pulled into these new forms of associational community, much of it following from the inspired work of Manuel Castells in the late nineties (1996). Castells uses the concept of knowledge-use communities to describe these emergent forces. Knowledge-use community also helps to frame the dynamic of expectations and concerns that we see in the differentiating worlds of the Internet.

The Internet's impact on the organization of research and scholarship provides another example of the mixture of community expectations and concerns. Beginning with the earliest Internet as an e-mail system supporting researchers in science and technology, the adoption and adaptation of electronic media for scholarly communication has been widely if not wholeheartedly supported. There are significant differentials at work here. Different fields and disciplines have developed distinctive differences in their use of electronic forums and formats. This is, of course, true for both paper-based and electronic communication, but the heterogeneity of developments in the new electronic environment suggests that these differences may persist for the foreseeable future - and can be seen as a global experiment, as fields and disciplines continue to evolve electronic strategies in a variety of normative contexts.

If electronic proxies for traditional scholarly publishing have been extensively embraced by the sciences, the sciences have also been early to see that in general, electronic communication could be a better way to communicate knowledge and hence an advantage for facilitating the creation of new knowledge. The professions have also taken large stakes in electronic media for training and skills upgrading and have generally supported the move to electronic distribution of research. The record of the humanities and social sciences - as well as the arts more generally - shows a slower and more nuanced uptake in the early stages, but with considerable variation in the patterns of embrace and resistance.

Although the mix is very different from one field and disciplinary practice to another, electronic scholarly communication works with three building blocks: e-mail, collections of papers, and electronic journals. E-mail is the most ubiquitous form of electronic media across all forms of research and scholarship - and the least well researched. It complements and often replaces many types of conventional scientific and scholarly communication, and has reshaped a number of research and scholarly processes, including research grant administration, pre-publishing of electronic papers, and electronic peer review. Electronic support for collections of papers has also had wide influence, and has shifted at least some of the emphasis from product to process, in a sense refashioning the collaborative dynamics.

Similarly, electronic journals have had a transforming influence on some areas of science and scholarship. E-journals remain controversial, not only in their relation to conventional print journals, but also in relationship to the institutional context itself. For instance, during the past decade, a basic taxonomy of electronic journals has emerged, led by the sciences, which helps show the range of institutional re-mapping that is taking place: on one side, there is the development of both pure electronic journals and of electronic enhancements to conventional paper journals. On the other side, there is a parallel development of shared digital libraries and various allied forms of digital archives. It has been noted that these forms of electronic media are both convergent with conventional print media, in that they often mirror conventional paper formats, and divergent, in that they can and do encourage the development of new forms of scholarly and scientific expression.5

As electronic journals and disciplinary databases continue to reshape the basic contours of the scholarly environment, what seems experimental now will at some point become normative. Tracking the volume of electronic scholarly publication and developing a more comprehensive picture of the variety of forums for electronic scholarly publication would be a valuable addition to research on how the Internet and the Web are transforming these dimensions of education. A recent study of electronic publishing in the humanities and social sciences in Canada suggests that approximately half of this diverse scholarly community have made use of electronic resources as part of their research activities (University of Calgary et al., 2000).

Table 13: Use of electronic resources by scholars (Percentage who have used electronic resources for research)
Type of electronic resource
On-line scholarly journals 51%
On-line government resources 51%
On-line newspapers 40%
On-line archival materials 41%
Other on-line resources 67%
Source: University of Calgary et al., Scholarly Electronic Publishing in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Canada, 2000

The same study also raises important questions about the manner in which the transition to electronic resources is taking place. While scholars who are active users of electronic media reported significant increases in their use, it is interesting that close to half of the scholars surveyed said they had never used an on-line scholarly journal or an on-line government resource (see Table 13). Approximately 60% said that they had never used an on-line newspaper or an on-line archive. On the face of it, this suggests parallels with the broader demographic trends noted earlier - and it would be interesting to know how adoption and experimentation correlate with age and levels of academic seniority. That in turn would tell us something more about the normative values and system of incentives and peer pressures at work.

Civic engagement

The proto-Internets that grew up around community networks and in other community-based network experiments during the past decade gave an early indication of the potential that the Internet held for civic culture and its relationship to traditional forms of associational politics. From diverse origins and with many aspects untested or even untried, Internet-supported civic engagement seems to have stabilized around a few areas of enthusiasm, for which we have reliable data: for access to local government services, for complementary forms of health information and support, and for a range of electoral political activity and public consultative processes in support of governance initiatives, such as city and regional planning.

The advantages of electronic delivery are becoming clearer to the Canadian public. Still, public concerns persist, notably over guarantees of privacy, confidentiality, and security. There are also worries about accountability, much of it the result of skeptical press coverage and a few celebrated disasters around tax filings and computer errors. Still, almost two-thirds of Canadians say they would use the Internet to obtain information or do business with local government (Statistics Canada, General Social Survey, 2000).

Local government figures strongly in public support for electronic services. So far local authorities have taken only cautious steps to raise and broaden the actual appeal for such services. Community information and the management of community services and facilities are areas where the appeal is far ahead of the actual provision of services. This highlights a current information deficit that has persisted for some time, wherein governments have managed the hype better than the reality (see Table 14).

Table 14: Local government information and services ("How likely would you be to use each of the following if they were offered on-line through your local government website?")
General information (inspections, blue-box schedules, voting) 80%
Downloading / Filing applications or permits 78%
Input on public issues / other forms of public consultation 68%
Renewing licences (business, parking, pets) 67%
Registering for recreational activities 61%
Paying bills (property tax, water bills, parking tickets) 61%
Booking recreational facilities 54%
Source: Ipsos-Reid, June 2001

A key question is how far local government can go toward accommodating these public interests. Allied to that is the question of how to manage the increasing demands for public input and consultation on a wide range of local and regional issues. So far there are few instructive cases. Helsinki is alone among world cities in committing itself to providing a complete range of city services on-line at this time. Several Canadian cities have committed themselves to gathering inputs from expert and public consultations using both on-line and community-based processes.

The challenge for governments at all levels may be stepping up from the provision of on-line information through Web sites and call centres to supporting just this sort of robust interaction and participation. There are serious obstacles and objections. While accessing information electronically has considerable support (according to Statistics Canada, 64% of Canadian Internet users say they would do business on-line with their local government), this is the younger, wealthier, and better-educated population. It is unclear how those less privileged will respond and whether the transfer of services on-line comes at the expense of other delivery systems. Much of Canada's social safety net, especially in large urban areas, depends upon complex intergovernmental relations and in many cases relies on an orchestrated mix of voluntary, non-governmental organizations and community-based services.

Busy Canadians seem to appreciate the possibilities for efficiencies in the new electronic options, and there is likely also support for electronic gateways that support the established role of organizations and government services already positioned at the community level. The objections at present seem to come down to safety on the one hand (that electronic interactions be as secure as other options) and to persistent fears about viability of the information highway metaphor on the other (that increased electronic interactions will inevitably lead to traffic jams, sprawl, detours, and road rage).

More than 80% of adult Canadian Internet users say they have used the Internet for gathering health-related information (CF Group, August 2001). This is not an actual shift away from face-to-face contact with health professionals, but does seem to signal the rise of complementary pathways for seeking health information and medical treatment support. Two dimensions of on-line medical information figure strongly here: firstly that the Internet has become a vast digital medical encyclopedia, primarily it seems for seeking information on diseases and for investigating treatments, including human drug trials. Secondly, for those dealing with physical or mental illnesses, the Internet has become a powerful testimonial tool, permitting a wide network of support relationships to develop around specific diseases and courses of treatment. Most of these support systems fall beneath the radar of current research, because of the complexity of the research tasks involved in dealing with self-organizing behaviour.

Survey research does suggest that there may be a significant opportunity for delivering health services on-line. About half of Canadians on-line now appear to support communicating with doctors and pharmacists over the Internet for some medical and drug-related inquiries. Canada, of course, has been a pioneer in developing telehealth and medical care "at a distance" through a bricolage of earlier technologies; and remote areas have depended upon such supplemental methods for decades. Unlike the United States, where on-line sales have been a controversial feature of pharmaceutical delivery for several years, in Canada a majority of Internet users remain opposed to legalizing the practice in Canada, where it continues to be prohibited.

In general, survey data is inconclusive on the value of the Internet to wider issues of governance. The Net has been seen as a vehicle for political dissent and protest, and it has served to organize and consolidate a variety of communities of interest, with implications for policy and politics. To a lesser extent the Internet has played the role of an alternative forum to that of the traditional media for political reporting and discussion. How much the Internet can complement other aspects of politics remains an open and important issue. Internationally, the Internet has spawned numerous forums and information exchanges on democracy and the Internet.6

Will e-commerce drive the Internet?

At this point in time e-commerce is an unresolved puzzle. The Internet seems to have entered an extended plateau of electronic commerce, except perhaps as a tool for information gathering and product and price comparison, both for individual consumers and corporate and small-business procurement. Purchases continue. In fact, the New York Times continues to report weekly volume for North America at about one billion dollars; however, the range is narrow, in the case of individual consumers limited largely to auctions, travel and tourism, books and music, computer electronics, certain areas of finance, on-line auctions, mainly resale, and perhaps pornography.

The information and entertainment segments of the Internet have had little success in moving toward a revenue model. The established information and entertainment industry has used its considerable promotional resources to drive Internet users to its sites, but there is little evidence to suggest that this enhances revenue. Some evidence suggests that subscription models do work better than payment-for-product models, but the failure of the revenue models for on-line publications raises questions about the sustainability of stand-alone ventures on-line.

The confusing reality of e-commerce and the ongoing search for a compelling revenue model suggest that there may be no single revenue model, and not one market but several, including a social market, such as the vibrant one around messaging and social communication, fringed by a cultural market that will be more community bazaar than shopping mall.

A disenchanted Internet

Where task forces in the nineties foresaw a period of largely unproblematic technological growth for the Internet in Canada, the subsequent user data surveyed here suggests that the Internet is vulnerable to public anxieties about its role in society. Two endemic concerns of the late modern period - concerns about public trust and societal risk - are evident in the present climate of opinion about the Internet as well.

Exemplary of these concerns is the persistent worry about inappropriate content. Principally this is parental anxiety about content that might be accessed by teens and children. Pornography is most often cited as an example of inappropriate material; however, worries about violent content and on-line encounters with strangers (mainly in association with unmonitored chat rooms) also figure prominently.

Table 15: Parental concerns about their children's Internet use
Parents who cite inappropriate materials as their biggest concern about their kids being on-line 51%
Source: Media Awareness Network-Environics Research Group, Young Canadians in a Wired World, June 2001

Paralleling public attitudes toward mass media, Statistics Canada's General Social Survey and the Media Awareness-Environics surveys both show wide differences of opinion over what responses are appropriate. There is agreement that Internet content requires supervision vis-à-vis youth, but a diverse sense of where that supervisory responsibility should lie: with Internet service providers (ISPs), with Internet users themselves, with government, with oversight organizations, with Web site producers. Again, there is agreement that education about safe Internet use is a priority, but a considerable range in assigning responsibility for that education: with families themselves, with government, with ISPs, and with schools. All of this could be read as a lack of consensus, but it may also indicate an appreciation of the complexities of intervention - and perhaps an understanding of the distinctiveness that the Internet represents over and against traditional mass media and other communication modalities.

Several recent surveys have pointed to the potential chilling effect of cyber-crime on public trust. The security of credit card information on-line is one such flashpoint - and a potential tipping point for broader public concerns about fraud and stolen identity. In a recent 16-country poll, Ipsos-Reid (June 2001) found that the potential for on-line credit card fraud is a major concern (46%), while 26% said it was a moderate concern, even as the actual experience of fraud appears relatively small worldwide. In Canada the General Social Survey identifies several areas of security concerns: making purchases, banking electronically, and providing confidential information over the Internet. Concerns also push beyond transaction fraud and credit card information abuse toward a more basic issue of information security - the perceived risk to personal privacy implicit in information theft. Since the potential for cyber-crime is uniquely international, it raises the question of how differing country responses to information privacy and differing legal codes will affect enforcement. It also points to the importance of trusted intermediaries on-line.

Privacy continues to be a charged issue, especially in North American households. In fact, privacy is the one subject overall that raises the greatest concern about the Internet among Canadians (see Table 16). Privacy anxiety tends to centre on information risk and the threat that the Internet may pose to personal privacy, notably the risks associated with the accessibility of personal information to others on-line and the uncertainties raised by the expanding collection and use of personal information in an electronic world.

Table 16: Canadians' concerns about privacy on the Internet
Somewhat concerned Greatly concerned
Internet users 29% 37%
Non-Internet users 13% 43%
All Canadians 21% 40%
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey 2000

Privacy of personal data and personal transactions are areas in which the Canadian population generally supports a clearer set of standards and protections, although concern is less evident among more experienced users and those with a longer history of on-line transactions.

E-mail accounts represent another sort of perceived informational risk. Unauthorized accessing of e-mail remains a sensitive issue, as does the anonymous tracking of on-line activities, including the tracking of Web site and chat room destinations. These concerns are most strongly related to the workplace and have been heightened in recent years by the perception that employers have been guided by ad hoc policies, which are neither well understood nor clearly communicated within organizations. A final area of personal information anxiety is health-related data. As with e-mail, there seems to be a sense that the rules governing access and use are not yet well articulated, and that the risks to individual privacy are heightened by the lack of enforceable standards.

In all these areas of public concern about the Internet, there is a rough consensus that responsibility for addressing these matters is a shared one. It includes personal responsibility, coupled with a sense that institutions and organizations should also have a more transparent role in mitigating risks. Governments may have a subtle mandate here, for securing standards and for guidance on a range of issues in which personal information becomes in effect a proxy for the individual. There is evidence of public sentiment for building a specific enforcement culture around these concerns. Most people are aware that traditional enforcement does exist for fraud and for personal data security, as well as for intellectual property. For the Internet's future, the danger is that these public anxieties could deepen into popular disenchantment - and undermine support for the Internet as an instrument of social cohesion.

Canadian content - Pathways/destinations

Global trends, local preferences

Early in the year 2000, Inktomi and the NEC Research Institute reported on their much-publicized project to construct a map of the global Internet. The results indicated that the World Wide Web - as the most obvious source for measuring the content of the Internet - had grown to more than one billion pages and, unsurprisingly, confirmed quantitatively that the language of the Web remained English and the content predominantly American.

Emerging trends, however, tell a diverging story. They suggest that the shape of the Web is changing, perhaps dramatically. Since 1999, international connectivity has soared. Today, Europe and Asia roughly equal North America in total connectivity, although they lag in total time spent on-line and in estimates of total content. Several countries, moreover, have overtaken Canada and the U.S. in adoption growth rates, while Sweden and Finland - and the Baltic region in general - are now the most wired area globally (see Table 17).

As Internet use increasingly spreads to other European countries, it would appear that the Internet is becoming a two-tier network. Countries making significant use of English as a working language comprise the main tier of the Internet. (In addition to the English-speaking countries, this includes Scandinavia, South Asia, and significant areas of Southeast Asia.) Parallel to this primary tier, a second tier has been quietly gaining momentum. The second tier has its own profile, characterized by strong national and linguistic, as well as regional and ethnic loyalties.

Table 17: Internet access and growth year over year (Internet access rates by country in 2000, and increases since 1999)
Access Growth
Sweden 65% 12%
Canada 60% 4%
United States 59% 0%
Netherlands 57% 17%
Australia 54% 6%
Finland 53% 9%
Switzerland 51% 6%
Singapore 46% 13%
South Korea 45% 14%
Source: Ipsos-Reid, 2001

The rise of a second tier - and perhaps ultimately a multi-tiered Internet - underlines the way in which the global Internet continues to assert propensities for growth through its capacity to build communities of interest often around diverse and locally flavoured content. Even as the Internet increasingly shows strength in international traffic, there is robust growth of country-specific flows, and unmistakable evidence that users are supporting local content and actively seek out materials in the local language of choice. Other aspects of the Internet - social communications, for instance, through e-mail, instant messaging, and chat sites - are less easily profiled from available data, but probably support this parallel or tiered structure (AC Nielsen, 2001).

A second emerging trend underscores the stabilizing of content interests. This again suggests patterns that are local-global. As the Internet-as-information-utility stabilizes around major categories of content, the categories themselves are becoming more focused, especially as a few Web domains emerge as preferred gateways internationally and on a country-by-country basis. These developments reflect the growth of a multi-tier Internet, where content itself mirrors the tiered structure. The development and persistence of Web worlds constructed and maintained around clusters of content that reflect commonalities of interest (geographic, political, linguistic, social, and cultural) lends force to the idea that the Internet, if it resembles anything at all that we have seen before, may now be closer to the complex flows and distributed intelligence associated with urban environments than it is to other media (Graham & Marvin, 2001).

A third emerging trend highlights the influence of increased on-line experience. As Internet users gain experience, they are spending more time on-line but focused on fewer sites and fewer categories of content. In North America, about half of regular Internet users access fewer than 20 sites in a month. This trend is strongest in the United States, but growing in Canada. It may be pushed by consolidations in the commercial and market-driven segments of the Internet. However, the trend toward fewer sites - or "destinations," as measurement experts now prefer - is across the board: for most types of content, and generally reflected across conventional audience composition variables (such as age, sex, and household income).

Related trends show up in navigation behaviour; that is, in how users characteristically get around on-line. Internet users appear to be turning away from aggregators in favour of direct access to familiar sites. This tilt toward direct navigation represents a move away from gateways (such as search engines, portals, and directories). Direct navigation may be the consequence of a maturing on-line population, however, the trend away from the primary aggregators raises many more questions than it answers. To what extent, for instance, is this related to frustrations with the aggregators themselves - such as clutter, sprawl, and congestion? Are alternative forms of aggregation emerging? There also may be external factors at work, factors not related to individual behaviour on-line, but that point to other sources of guidance, from the influence of interpersonal ties and peer guidance to the role of schools, universities, and what has been termed "knowledge-use communities," the network theory of Manuel Castells (1996) as inspired by society (in this case, everything from hobby groups to professional associations). Demographically, these latter groups - students, teachers, researchers, hobbyists, and professionals - account for much of the experienced and heavy user population at this time. Taken together, these trends suggest that, for now at least, it is content communities that shape the persistence of behaviour on-line. Moreover, if content communities are themselves both fluid and focused networks, they may well come to be seen as part of those broader patterns of networking and relationship formation in late modern societies that involve the cultivation of "active trust" (Giddens, 1995).

Knowledge-use communities is not the most elegant formulation - knowledge networks is another - but the idea that the persistence of networks and their preferred sources for knowledge, information, and interaction depend upon strategies for shared social capital lends a different and more sociological cast to how we think about Internet content. A knowledge-use community is not so much a small version of the public (following the reading, listening, and viewing publics of traditional mass media) as it is a form of friendship, where Anthony Giddens, following Castells, notes that it is no longer who you know that counts, but how you are known within a particular network.

The visibility of content on-line

Canadian data generally track these global trends. Most Canadians access the Internet in English, and most who do so are satisfied with the amount of content in English they find there. With Francophone Internet users - those who most often speak French at home - the situation is more challenging. Francophone users show less satisfaction with the amount of content in French, are far less likely to access the Internet in French than are Anglophones in English, and are less represented among Internet users.7 By contrast, immigrants exhibit perhaps the most enthusiastic embrace of the Internet and are the most satisfied with it as well.

Current public attitudes toward Internet content (see Table 18) may carry over from earlier communication policies in Canada, notably for television, which had a well-articulated strategy to support both official languages and minority languages, and has emphasized "Canadian" content opportunities through several iterations of the television delivery system, a history characterized by technological changes that greatly expanded household access to specialty channels and foreign content.

Table 18: Importance of Canadian content ("How important is it to you that there be Canadian content available on television?")
Very important 51%
Somewhat important 28%
Not at all important 19%
("On the Internet?")
Very important 48%
Somewhat important 22%
Not at all important 27%
Source: Statistics Canada, General Social Survey 2000, June 2001

The question of what, more exactly, Canadian content is takes on additional difficulties in the new environment. On the one hand, some categories of on-line activity do not yield easily to the content equation. Entertainment sites, game sites, adult entertainment sites, and technology sites are all among the most popular in terms of total use by Canadians, yet many of the inputs to content, through design and production services among others, are off the radar of current measurement.

On the other hand, some types of on-line content are uniquely Canadian in their appeal and exclusively Canadian in content and production: local content, including real estate sites, regional and local information and event sites, government and education sites. Other popular content types are a mix of Canadian, American, and foreign-based materials or production inputs: these include news and information (business, finance, general news, sports), as well as health, community, and retail. Finally, some types of content, such as content aggregated by service-oriented sites with interactive or commercial components (eBay, Yahoo!), invite users to focus their interests through interface options that in turn permit filtering of relevant materials by geography, language, and other preferences.

To see how users array themselves around content, our study analyzed Media Metrix Canada data for June 2001, using a universe of about 700 sites or domains (some of which are properties, which may be aggregates of sites, with several URLs). (For an overview of Canadian content and a list of most popular sites, see Table 30 and Table 31.) Together these sites/domains comprise those destinations that have attracted at least 1% of Canadian users in the past month. This is overwhelming traffic involving World Wide Web addresses (above 98%). Canadian users of the Web are estimated at about 5.5 million daily visitors, or 14 million unique visitors per month, each of whom spends an average of 12.7 days on-line monthly, taking about 49 minutes on-line per usage, and consulting an average of 580 Web pages per month, at about one minute per page for most types of content. Reach statistics, although controversial, help show the relative importance of various content categories. Because reach shows the percentage of unique users who have visited a site at least once in the past month, it is a reasonable proxy for site recognition or visibility. The greatest limitation on this data - and the mass media methodologies from which it is derived - is that it does not capture the perceived significance of the content for users, nor does it reveal the users' valuing of time spent within sites.

Some types of Canadian content hold up well in comparison to the offerings of non-Canadian sites. For education and government, for instance, the traffic flows are largely into well-established sites: universities primarily and large gateway sites for the federal and provincial government. Local information is self-limiting in other ways, and mainly associated with cities and a few provincially oriented sites. Other categories, such as general news and health information, are more open sources, with considerable competition between American- and Canadian-based properties. News-related sites are often co-branded with conventional media, such as newspapers, and business and financial sites tend to mirror the real-world role of financial institutions across a variety of business and investment functions. Some areas, such as travel and careers, are exemplary of how the Web deepens its role as an information utility, consolidating services at one site and competing with real-world services.

Table 19: The most popular types of Canadian content (Based on unique visitors and reach data for May 2001)
Visitors (000) Digital media reach
Business / Financial 6,129 44%
News / Information 5,432 39%
Education 4,554 33%
Government 4,414 32%
Sports news 2,495 20%
Travel information 2,350 17%
Local / Community 2,426 17%
Health 2,121 15%
Careers / Jobs 1,748 15%
Source: Media Metrix Canada, Digital Media Audience Ratings, May 2001

The serendipitous qualities of the Web that powered the imagination of early users have given way to a variety of strategies for pushing users through organization points - often gateways or portals - and with the growing sprawl and congestion of the Web, many users depend upon a group of related services - principally directories and search engines - which provide the equivalent of road maps and destination advice. These on-line service centres mask a wider set of organizing efforts for the content of the Web, on which the service centres themselves depend. A provisional taxonomy of these organizing efforts would include the following: portals, search engines and meta-search engines, directories, indexes, archives, databases, resources, guides.

All the above are persisting forms of Web organization and guidance. Some resources and guides serve very narrow constituencies of users, such as the professions, and may provide various levels of proprietary access, often based on membership and fee structures. Others are proxies for the holdings of collections, libraries, and archival bodies and may contain on-line mixtures of summaries and electronic versions of textual and other materials. In recent years, the growth of the Internet has been mirrored by the parallel growth of portals, search engines, and directories, but even with that growth of aggregation and control points, these searchable sources are now thought to be only about 20% of the visible Internet. 8

Canadian Internet users utilize a mix of American and Canadian portals (see Table 20 and Table 21). Portals are the Web sites where users most frequently start an on-line session - and browser design has encouraged this behaviour. Most major portals, such as MSN, AOL, Yahoo!, and Canoe, have established country-specific sites. At the same time, Canadian service providers and aggregators have well-established portal presences. Canoe, in fact, has recently become the third largest Canadian portal through its acquisition of the Infinit.com property, which had a large piece of the French-speaking user base.

Table 20: Portals (Individual site users as a percentage of all portal users)
Site Reach
msn.com 63.8%
yahoo.com 52.4%
msn.ca 34.4%
sympatico.ca 32.1%
lycos.com 29.2%
yahoo.ca 18.3%
netscape.com 16.4%
aol.com 16.2%
go.com 13.6%
excite.com 13.0%
nbci.com 11.4%
excite.ca 10.1%
canoe.ca 10.0%
infinit.com 10.0%
go2net.com 6.4%
infospace.com 5.8%
canada.com 5.4%
nettaxi.com 5.1%
canoe.qc.ca 4.9%
Source: Media Metrix Canada, Digital Media Audience Ratings, May 2001
Table 21: Canadian portals (Individual site users as a percentage of all portal users)
Site Reach
msn.ca 34.4%
sympatico.ca 32.1%
yahoo.ca 18.3%
excite.ca 10.1%
canoe.ca 10.0%
infinit.com 10.0%
canada.com 5.4%
canoe.qc.ca 4.9%
Source: Media Metrix Canada, Digital Media Audience Ratings, May 2001

Search engines (see Table 22) are effective databases for what's out there on the Web. Search strategies depend heavily on computing power and specialized software for keeping their information up to date. They have well-known limitations: search results may no longer exist, as Web sites and Web content constantly change; resources may be uneven in quality and suitability and highly dependent upon the precision of the search engine and the user. Libraries are still better resources, if only because they reference a wider world of resources than the Web. And search engines themselves are changing and mutating. Google, arguably the best of the engines at present, grew over the past two and a half years from 30 million pages to a current 1.3 billion pages. Largely because of the very high costs of capitalizing such ventures, there are no widely used Canadian search engines.

Table 22: Search / Navigation sites (Individual site users as a percentage of all search / navigation site users)
Site Users
google.com 14.6%
altavista.com 13.2%
goto.com 8.5%
askjeeves.com 7.3%
Source: Media Metrix Canada, Digital Media Audience Ratings, May 2001

However, search engines are giving rise to alternatives: to regional search engines, such as Beaucoup, which specialize in regional and local resources; to specialized search engines, which focus on specific subjects, such as Findlaw; and to multimedia search engines, which are beginning to tap the potential of the Web for images and other audio and video content. Child-friendly search engines have become part of the youth-oriented versions of many portals, providing a series of built-in filters. Search engines that organize other search engines, sometimes called meta-search or search accelerators, have also made inroads, and some, like Copernic, which was developed in Canada, provide brief excerpts along with titles and URLs. Finally, some types of search engines are incorporating human interactivity, such as experts on-line, who can respond to questions through e-mail. Expert sites are especially popular with science educators and health practitioners, among others.

Canada has a number of popular directories, which perform many of the same functions as search engines, and indeed are indistinguishable from portals in many respects. For French-speaking Canadians, Toile is the most broadly based directory site and also functions effectively as a regionally oriented resource guide in Quebec.

News and information sites

News and information is one area where loyalty to Canadian sites and to a generalized Canadian perspective is especially strong. The Angus Reid Group has done extensive polling on user loyalty, developing the questions and methodology from related work for a variety of traditional media, including newspapers, television, and cable. The results here (see Table 23) suggest that the preferences for a Canadian point of view appear to carry over from traditional media to the Web.

Table 23: Loyalty to Canadian information sites ("For each of the following types of information websites, do you generally go to a Canadian or American website, or do you visit both equally?")
Cdn U.S. Both
World news 45% 7% 44%
Financial news 51% 4% 33%
Sports news 36% 10% 39%
Entertainment news 25% 17% 49%
Source: Angus Reid Group, 2000
Table 24: News / Information sites (Individual site users as a percentage of all news / information site users)
Site Reach
about.com 12.7%
cnn.com 5.0%
radio-canada.ca 4.8%
cbc.ca 4.5%
globeandmail.com 4.0%
msnbc.com 3.6%
theweathernetwork.com 2.7%
globaltv.com 2.5%
meteomedia.com 2.4%
thestar.com 2.2%
time.com 2.1%
weather.com 1.8%
nytimes.com 1.5%
bbc.co.uk 1.5%
faceoff.com 1.3%
lesoleil.com 1.2%
nationalpost.com 1.2%
newswire.ca 1.2%
weatheroffice.com 1.1%
ottawacitizen.com 1.1%
usatoday.com 1.1%
washingtonpost.com 1.0%
Source: Media Metrix Canada, Digital Media Audience Ratings, May 2001
Table 25: French-language news / information sites (Individual site users as a percentage of all news / information site users)
Site Reach
radio-canada.ca 4.8%
meteomedia.com 2.4%
lesoleil.com 1.2%

Source: Media Metrix Canada, Digital Media Audience Ratings, May 2001

Note: If reach statistics were adjusted to reflect just Quebec, reach for Radio-Canada would be much higher, above 50% of the user population for news and information.

This is actually a significant achievement, given the resources that American news organizations have utilized to drive users to their sites. Still, news and information (see Table 24 and Table 25) have become a game of survivors. In the past year, a number of independent entities have either ceased to publish on the Web or have been incorporated into larger sites. This is one area where the repositioning of content can be achieved at relatively low costs, essentially favouring traditional media outlets. There are also indications that television and radio have found ways to develop complementary resources on the Web that do not merely reproduce their content, but also provide supplementary materials and act as important conduits for pulling users back to the traditional media. As the earlier chart on convergence indicated, there is room here for the Web to take on some of the functionality of radio and television, which might tip the balance in favour of a new period of media innovation. To date, however, we have only the outstanding example of music downloads and some modest success with Web radio and video Webcasts.

Business and financial sites are the key niche market, where for very low costs, financial institutions can provide electronic versions of current services, including the provision of news and promotional materials and links to independent market and other financial information. Brokers are often good business and finance information sources, and in some cases compete directly with the traditional financial news organizations. Investment-related information is also supplied through a variety of federal, provincial, and private sites. These resources include, for instance, the federal government's omnibus business directory Strategis, and provincial business service centres, all of which have significant on-line resources and utilization. Many of these on-line services are aimed at both domestic and foreign users, and most have a strong emphasis on small and medium-sized business. The private sector has an information presence here, largely in the form of product and service information covering a wide array of business needs, from insurance to legal services to consulting services. Many of these services are accessed through government and corporate presence sites and point out the complexities that emerge once we begin to move beyond conventional storefronts of the mass media age and into the Web's wider world of information stakeholders.

Since most smaller Web sites attract less than 1% of users and so fall beneath the radar of current traffic measures, we do not at present know what a more inclusive accounting of these sites would look like - and what it would reveal about the information-seeking dynamics of the Internet.

Government and regional/local sites

Some government sites and most of the regional and local sites (see Table 26 and Table 27) effectively focus as directories, pushing out not only toward other related sites, but also as destinations for several categories of popular interest. A number of regional and city-oriented sites have become aggregators for a range of local entertainment, events, and leisure information and links.

Several federal sites also function as aggregators for information that reaches beyond official functions. The Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) site contains information and resources that might also be captured under, for instance, health information sites and employment information sites. This emphasizes one of the primary challenges in sorting out information classification on-line: the complexity of its organization and the depth of its location on-line.

Table 26: Governmental sites (Individual site users as a percentage of all governmental site users)
Site Reach
hrdc-drhc.gc.ca 7.8%
gouv.qc.ca 6.5%
gov.on.ca 4.2%
ec.gc.ca 3.4%
ccra-adrc.gc.ca 3.1%
canada.gc.ca 3.0%
gov.bc.ca 2.4%
jobs.gc.ca 2.2%
ic.gc.ca 1.9%
hc-sc.gc.ca 1.7%
nasa.gov 1.6%
nih.gov 1.6%
pch.gc.ca 1.5%
toronto.on.ca 1.4%
gov.ab.ca 1.4%
dnd.ca 1.1%
edu.on.ca 1.1%
psc-cfp.gc.ca 1.0%
Source: Media Metrix Canada, Digital Media Audience Ratings, May 2001
Table 27: Regional / Local sites (Individual site users as a percentage of all regional / local site users)
Site Reach
mybc.com 3.6%
alberta.com 3.3%
montrealplus.ca 2.5%
toronto.com 1.8%
planete.qc.ca 1.3%
quebecweb.com 1.0%
Source: Media Metrix Canada, Digital Media Audience Ratings, May 2001

Health related information is organized under numerous official rubrics. There are provincial medical services and associated with them the complex array of associations, institutes, and agencies gathered around specific illnesses and physical and mental conditions (see Table 28). Woven around the official world of health and illness are health related topics linked to on-line information vendors and to support groups utilizing chat and e-mail. Medical information is one area where the use of hyperlinks is creating the equivalent of a vast digital medical encyclopedia. Interestingly, teens and younger Canadians downplay the emphasis of older adults on disease and treatment, focusing instead mainly on health and personal appearance, such as diet, exercise, bodybuilding, and cosmetics.

Table 28: Health information sites (Individual site users as a percentage of all health site users)
Site Reach
webMD.com 3.1%
medbroadcast.com 1.6%
ediets.com 1.6%
nih.gov 1.6%
Source: Media Metrix Canada, Digital Media Audience Ratings, Media Metrix Canada, May 2001

The sheer complexity of health information, running as it does from personal appearances topics to life-threatening conditions, has made it difficult for most Web sites to serve up more than narrow slices. Hence, a few sites, mostly American, have emerged as mega-directories, or knowledge-focused portals. Somewhat overlooked in this encyclopedic scope and scale is the Net's role as an information resource for health care practitioners themselves and the extensive world of health care associations and voluntary organizations. The Internet in fact has become a primary resource, alongside conferences and conventions, for health care professionals, and is now an established support network for most areas of health care work.

Educational and career sites

The dominance of university sites may reflect the importance that the Internet now plays among students in postsecondary education. University sites in Canada function as important portals, because they serve a variety of needs, including library services and publications (many now delivered on-line), on-line readings and course materials, as well as a powerful e-mail and messaging system, all available at subsidized rates. Although exact data is unavailable, universities and colleges appear to be major generators of Internet traffic out of the universities to other sites, functioning as a primary portal for some of the heaviest Internet users (CANARIE).

The Web is also a robust education planning resource, containing a wide set of sites devoted to scholarships and funding, guides to schools for students, and resources for parents and teachers. Teaching resources and homework resources abound on-line, including such well-known projects as SchoolNet and Science Net. Stand-alone forms of e-learning have emerged and submerged in the past decade, many as either continuing education or professional skills-enhancement programs attached to colleges, universities, and professional schools, a few as independent virtual education organizations (World Wide Learn). Most on-line learning today seems to be migrating rapidly to the Web and adopting non-proprietary standards, after many years of experimenting with proprietary software systems. Management and other forms of corporate training are part of this mix - and these areas have been leaders in experimenting with electronic collaborative environments. Getting a measure of all this is difficult in part because in many cases the electronic environments are both proprietary and Web-connected - and often in some form of transition.

A sideshow to the overall trends in on-line education is the climate of complaint that continues to make itself felt around the perceived negative impacts of the Net: on coursework, for instance, where the Web is arguably undermining the skills for proper information sourcing and citation standards, replacing it with a culture of cut and paste. Educational trade publishers have related fears about the fate of textbooks on-line; and as they see it the problem of an entrenched subculture that extends from earlier misuse of copying machines by students and professors to more recent problems with computer-assisted theft of intellectual property. To round things off, there is the appearance of cheat sites on-line (where students can go for papers or assisted writing), and plagiarism and style check engines (where the educators can attempt to get even).

All of this makes for a certain nervousness among educators. At the untamed edges there are new and challenging developments. In the phenomena of on-line download activities, of which Napster is only an obvious example, many educators now see not unique events, but the culmination of a long line of intellectual-property issues. Among the issues are persistent struggles over the status of public-domain works and fair use of copyright materials. This is a situation where the rules of the road no longer match reality, and where the choice between better driver education and a beefed-up enforcement culture threatens to become divisive (Lessig, 2001).

Content versus content communities

From the beginnings of the Internet, scientific and scholarly communities have adopted new electronic media, notably for e-mail and for still-evolving areas of knowledge management, electronic publishing, and archiving. While many areas of the sciences and the professions have been leaders in utilizing electronic resources for research and publication - as well as pioneers in developing on-line teaching tools and content - more cautious adopters of electronic communications and publication, such as the humanities and social sciences, appear to share similar beliefs about the future of electronic resources.

Even if the arts, the humanities, and the social sciences are seen as lagging sectors of the wider university and college community in their uptake of electronic communications, recent research (see Table 29) indicates that these communities, by a wide majority, expect significant growth in the availability of electronic resources, especially for scholarly journals, government resources, as well as non-scholarly publications, newspapers, and other primary materials. This suggests that these content communities will continue to play a role in building "active trust" in the Internet's emerging networks of knowledge-use communication.

Table 29: Future use of electronic publishing by scholars ("Do you think each of the following will become more widely used in electronic form in the future, less widely used than today, or stay about the same?")
Type of electronic publishing resource More widely available About the same Less widely available
Scholarly journals 88% 8% 3%
Non-scholarly journals 74% 14% 3%
Newspapers 72% 22% 2%
Primary materials 71% 18% 2%
Government resources 88% 6% 1%
Books 48% 44% 5%

Source: University of Calgary et al., Scholarly Electronic Publishing in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Canada, 2000

Note: Percents don't total exactly to 100% because "Don't know" responses have been dropped.

There are areas of Internet content where Canadians show little knowledge of Canadian sites and little interest in building or consuming Canadian content. These are slippery categories, but in general include the gamut of entertainment sites, including adult entertainment, game sites, and sites related to health and to special interests - all areas in which the Internet continues to show "audience" growth and where its content and user characteristics more closely resemble traditional media content and audiences.

Other areas of the Internet resist measurement. In general these are areas in which few Web sites manage to push above the 1% threshold that digital measurement experts like to see for reasons of reliability. Reliability problems aside, there is evidence that many of these Web site areas falling "beneath the radar" contain robust content communities, alive and well and nurtured by enthusiasts. Some content areas that are currently below the measurement radar, but do show up by other metrics as containing meaningful amounts of Web-based activity: sites devoted to science, history, the environment, the voluntary sector, professional groups and associations, literature and reading sites, the arts, cultural collections, hobby sites, animal interest sites, gardening, family-related sites, and amateur sport and outdoor activities.9

The expanding use of the Internet by professionals is an example of the complex linkages that are developing between virtual and actual activities. Many professionals draw upon the Internet as a research network to support complementary forms of knowledge dissemination. Pre-prints and electronic peer review are among the legacies of early experimentation, along with a commitment to experimentation with electronic tools and networks. These professional worlds are powerful aggregators for information on-line. Professional worlds today frequently see themselves as both global and local and as such may provide a way of understanding how specialized knowledge works electronically to shape and sustain knowledge-use communities.

Traditional centres for content communities have also played a conspicuous early role in the Canadian Internet. Libraries, museums, and archives all contributed experimentally to reproducing digitally and on-line a number of indexing functions and portions of actual holdings. Alongside these public institutions, numerous local organizations and civic groups and associations, with the support of corporations and foundations, have adopted the Web as a vehicle for a wide range of commitments to, for lack of a better term, the development of civic capital. Many of us have favourite examples and an intuitive grasp of these small-scale doings, but given the complexity of these undertakings, no current meta-search architecture or gateway presently does justice to their scope and scale. Again, the challenge here may be counter-intuitive, to grasp the Internet not as a stand-alone medium, but as an emerging form of social and informational action shaped by and in turn shaping actual communities of interest and practice.

The special challenge of small worlds

These instances underscore the special challenge of the small worlds of the Internet, where social and informational activities and relationaships track from society to the Net and back again. What results are examples of self-organizing behaviour and compelling instances of how adaptation builds complexity. While these provisional and often short-lived clusters of activity may represent only modest numbers of users examined site by site, when looked at in aggregate they may take us in the direction of a surfeit of distributed practices. 10

For now, the Internet may best be seen as a pyramid, or pyramids, with a large and volatile base. Most of the base of the Web remains largely invisible to conventional measurement. If estimates of the effectiveness of search engines are accurate, search engines presently reference less than 20% of the Web's overall content. The depths of the Web contain a rich mix of materials, some of it in archives and other searchable sources, some of it in proprietary database systems, some of it characteristic of elective affinities with limited participation and access. This ultimately fractal world of linked information and clusters of interests and practices should be a central challenge to media and communication researchers. Such study will require innovative approaches and collaborative effort: certainly a blend of quantitative and qualitative approaches, with additional emphasis on cases and comparative interpretation. In a sense the Net is a clue to how we must live now, in networks of cultures, with new challenges for how we interrelate with community, geography, and history.11 In this way we can begin to reconcile the essential mosaic represented by the content and interactivity of the Internet to the diverse communities of interest and practice whose world, because of the Internet, is changing.

Table 30: A Canadian content mosaic12
Estimate of all Web sites and gateways visited by at least 1% of Canadian visitors monthly: 558
Estimate of Web sites and gateways containing Canadian content that attract at least 1% of Canadian visitors monthly: 147
Estimate of Web sites and gateways with Canadian content that attract less than 1% of Canadian visitors in an average month: 2,300 (based on research-in-progress)
Web sites and gateways with Canadian content as a percentage of all Internet traffic in Canada: 16%
Categories where Canadian-oriented Web sites and gateways predominate: local and community sites, government sites, education sites (mainly universities), business news and financial sites, travel and tourism sites
Regions for which we have no Web measurement data: Yukon and Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Northern Quebec, and Labrador
Groups for whom we have no independent Web measurement data: Aboriginal peoples, the handicapped, the institutionalized, Canadians living or working abroad
Source: InterNet Consulting Group, The Information Deficit Project, October 2001
Table 31: Most popular Web destinations
Most popular Canadian sites Reach
msn.ca 34.4%
sympatico.ca 32.1%
yahoo.ca 18.3%
aol.com 16.2%
amazon.com 10.4%
excite.ca 10.1%
canoe.ca/infinit.com 20.0%
royalbank.com 9.0%
toile.com 8.0%
hrdc-drhc.gc.ca 7.8%
multimania.com 7.0%
global-intermedia.com 6.7%
airmiles.ca 6.6%
gouv.qc.ca 6.5%
sears.ca 5.8%
tdcanadatrust.com 5.8%
desjardins.com 5.8%
canada.com 5.4%
classmates.com 5.4%
bmo.com 5.2%
cibc.com 5.1%
bell.ca 5.1%
Most popular French-language sites Reach
msn.ca 37.5%
sympatico.ca 42.1%
canoe.ca/infinit.com 52.3%
toile.com 29.0%
multimania.com 23.1%
gouv.qc.ca 22.2%
desjardins.com 20.6%
free.fr 18.5%
libertysurf.fr 17.2%
radio-canada.ca 16.2%
ifrance.com 14.3%
yahoo.fr 13.6%
Source: InterNet Consulting Group, The Information Deficit Project, October 2001


  1. Survey data has its limits, but the two surveys released in the spring of 2001 (Statistics Canada's General Social Survey on Canadians 15 and older and Media Awareness-Environics survey of Canadian youth aged nine to 17) together provide us with a reasonable baseline for how Canadians see the Internet today - and where they have concerns about the Internet for themselves and their children. These surveys utilized large panels of respondents and are based on well-established methods for getting at attitudes and behaviours. The limitations are important: surveys depend on respondent recall and willingness to disclose. Since this is self-reporting data, we have tried to limit ourselves to those data sets where findings can be corroborated with at least one additional source. Internet content data encapsulate other controversies. Still, we felt that an in-depth look at the Canadian Internet, based on the direct measurement of actual user behaviour, could provide a valuable optic, especially on the visibility of Canadian content to Canadian users. We provide this snapshot with all the usual caveats. We looked at a full year of data but for present purposes chose to focus on primary data for the most representative recent month (May 2001) - the month with the least seasonal variation.

  2. The Internet is global, and the value of country studies may lie ultimately in the ability to harmonize research and policy discussions with other nations. Among the research pathways currently in use internationally are the following: the World Internet Project, a user profile survey spearheaded by the University of California at Los Angeles and now involving participation by a half-dozen of the leading Internet countries; the Global Digital Divide Network, which focuses on barriers and capabilities issues; the technology and social life indicators research done by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); and a variety of national labour force studies, which include valuable measures of skills and learning related to information technology (IT).

  3. Data about user perceptions of time spent on-line and the impact on social isolation needs a caveat. Although the evidence suggests a potential deficit here, the evidence itself requires careful treatment. The 17% statistic aggregates several types of activity: time spent with family, with friends, and with children. When each is looked at separately, more than 90% of the respondents say the time spent with each group has stayed about the same.

  4. Considerable work on technopoles in relation to education has been done by the Berkeley Center for Globalization and Information Technology. See James O. Wheeler, Yuko Aoyama, & Barney Warf (Eds.) (2000).

  5. These provisional categories for electronic forums remain slippery, with some disagreement over what the boundary conditions are. Exemplary of these difficulties is the role of e-print servers, which are not exactly archives and also not journals. Excellent work on scientific electronic scholarship, drawn on here in part, is available at http://www.slis.indiana.edu/CSI.

  6. See, for instance, Democracies Online (http://www.e-democracy.org/do/), which promotes civic participation and democracy efforts internationally. In Canada, see the Institute on Governance, http://www.iog.ca.

  7. A caveat here, for as the access and connectivity data shows, the Francophone uptake of the Internet is rising more rapidly and from a lower base compared to the uptake of other Canadians.

  8. Many forms of archiving, for instance, are invisible to search engines. We have identified provisionally 20 types of databases and searchable sources that are primarily repositories for archived materials and largely invisible to search engines. Searchable sources and databases are a particularly robust on-line resource, as are proprietary databases, for which permission or fees apply, as well as large numbers of sequestered sources, such as those housed in educational institutions. A strategy for identifying these resources, especially in the education arena, would be valuable.

  9. Activity here is measured through the following: identification of active sites, linkage information, citations in references and guides, listings in multiple indexes and directories, and from meta-searches on key terms.

  10. Survey data and audience measurement have pronounced limits in this respect. It is difficult for such data to get at small focused worlds - the sort that exist around communities of interest and practice, as well as more tightly defined groups, such as professional practices and the disciplines. Communities of interest on-line also thrive around the extensive worlds of leisure interests, personal and civic engagement, and social commitments - precisely the kinds of distributed networks and knowledge-use communities for which the Internet provides the informational architecture. Case studies and ethnographic approaches may provide additional evidence for these activities and their significance for participants.

  11. As part of the aggregation of evidence in the present study, we continue to compile a database of Canadian-sourced Web sites. We have limited ourselves to Web sites that have sufficient focus to permit categorizing and which have some professed or demonstrated relationship to communities of interest and communities of practice. To date our work suggests that there are approximately 2,300 unique and persisting Web sites in the Canadian network.

  12. Web sites include sites, domains, properties; Canadian content references site ownership and development, and/or data and searchable resources that reference Canada or Canadians, or provide design features oriented to Canadians; Internet traffic includes estimates for e-mail and instant messaging, but does not presently include reliable estimates for traffic originating inside educational institutions and the workplace. Reach indicates the percentage of all users who visit a site monthly. French-language measures are based on Quebec households where French is primarily spoken.

Data sets

Media Metrix Canada. (2001, May). Digital media audience ratings.

Statistics Canada. (1999). General social survey 1998. Cycle 12: Access to and use of information technology.

Statistics Canada. (2001). General social survey 2000. Cycle 14: Access to and use of information technology.

Statistics Canada. (2000). Household Internet use survey 1999.

Statistics Canada. (2001). Household Internet use survey 2000.

Statistics Canada. (2002). Household Internet use survey 2001.


AC Nielsen. (2001). Global Internet trends.

Angus Reid Group. (2001). Loyalty to Canadian information sites.

Bakker, Cathy. (2000). Information and communications technologies and electronic commerce in Canadian industry. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

CANARIE. URL: http://www.canet3.net/stats/reports.html

Castells, Manuel. (1996). The rise of the network society. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

CF Group. (2001, August). Canadian Online Health Monitor.

Democracies Online. (2001). Newswire. URL: http://www.e-democracy.org/do/

Ekos-PIAC. (2000). The dual digital divide.

Giddens, Anthony. (1995). Transformation of intimacy: Sexuality, love and eroticism in modern societies. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1995.

Graham, Stephen, & Marvin, Simon. (2001). Splintering urbanism: Networked infrastructures, technological mobilities and the urban condition. London: Routledge.

Institute on Governance. URL: http://www.iog.ca

Ipsos-Reid. (2001, June). Online security concerns have chilling effect on consumers even if actual fraud rare. URL: http://www.ipsos-reid.com [November 2001].

Lessig, Lawrence. (2001). The future of ideas. New York: Random House.

Media Awarenesss Network-Environics Research Group. (2000). Canada's children in a wired world: The parents' view. Ottawa: Industry Canada. URL: http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/SSG/sf05376e.html [May 2002].

Media Awareness Network-Environics Research Group. (2001, June). Young Canadians in a wired world.

National Roundtable on Learning. (2001, March). Learning in the 21st century: Key issues and questions.

Pew Internet & American Life Project. (2001, February, April, June). Internet tracking reports.

Pew Internet & American Life Project. (2001, June). Teen life online.

Statistics Canada. (2001). Beyond the information highway: Networked Canada, ICT compendium.

Statistics Canada. (2001, April). Internet by cable. Connectedness series.

Statistics Canada. (2001, May). Rural and small town Canada.

Statistics Canada. (2001, August). Internet use among older Canadians. Connectedness series.

UCLA Center for Communication (2000, November). Surveying the digital future.

United States. Department of Commerce. (2000, October). Falling through the Net: A report on America's access to digital technology tools.

University of Calgary et al. (2000). Scholarly electronic publishing in the humanities and social sciences in Canada: A study of the transformation of knowledge communication. Calgary: University of Calgary. URL: http://www.ourfutureourpast.ca/e-pub/ [May 2002].

Wheeler, James O., Aoyama, Yuko, & Warf, Barney (Eds.). (2000). Cities in the telecommunications age. New York: Routledge.

Woolgar, Steve. (1999). Analytic scepticism. In William H. Dutton, Society on the line: Information politics in the digital age. New York: Oxford University Press.

World Wide Learn. URL: www.worldwidelearn.com

Further Reading

Carnoy, Martin. (2000). Sustaining the new cconomy: Work, family, and community in the information age. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Carroll, Jim, & Broadhead, Rick. (2001). Canadian Internet directory and research guide. Toronto: Stoddart.

Delvinia-CANARIE. (2001). Filling the pipe: Stimulating Canada's broadband content industry through R&D. Prepared for CANARIE Inc. Toronto: Delvinia. URL: http://www.canarie.ca/press/publications/pdf/broadband_report.pdf [May 2002].

Dryburgh, Heather. (2001). Changing our ways: Why and how Canadians use the Internet. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

Environics Research Group. (2001, October). Young Canadians in a wired world: The students' view. Prepared for the Media Awareness Network and Government of Canada. Ottawa: Industry Canada. URL: http://www.connect.gc.ca/cyberwise/pdf/wired_e.pdf [May 2002].

Kling, Rob, & McKim, Geoffrey. (2000, October). Field differences and the shaping of electronic media in supporting scientific communication. Bloomington: Center for Social Informatics, Indiana University.

Law, Stephen M., Mothersill, M. Gillian, Lowry, Robert E., & Cody, Susan M. (n.d.). Report by Ryerson Polytechnic University for the Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada (HSSFC). The costs of electronic publishing of scholarly works. URL: http://www.ryerson.ca/gcm/cep/

MORI. (2001). False dawn or bright future. London: Local Government Research Unit.

MultiMediator Strategy Group. (2000, November). Canadian interactive media producers' survey.

National Broadband Task Force. (2001). The new national dream: Networking the nation for broadband access: Report of the National Broadband Task Force. Ottawa. URL: http://broadband.gc.ca/Broadband-document/english/table_content.htm [November 2001].

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