The rapid adoption of broadband connections (the blue lines in this chart) is one of the revolutionary changes that occurred in media and communication in the last decade. In the inaugural survey of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in 2000, a tiny fraction of Americans had high-speed, always-on broadband connections in their homes. The number has now risen to 61%. However, the figure has not changed much in the past two years and even dipped earlier this year, partly because the Pew Internet Project tightened up its question language and perhaps because of some families’ economic struggles. As people moved from the slower dial-up internet to the faster broadband internet they did more things online, logged on more frequently, consumed lots of video, reported better outcomes from their searches, and cited improved impacts of those searches. Most dramatically, they became content creators as they started blogs, began to share their lives with others on social networking sites, shared and mashed up pictures and videos, and began to use Twitter. This has profoundly reshaped media culture and social activities.

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.