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John Horrigan on finding the barriers to adoption
John Horrigan is the FCC’s Omnibus Broadband Initiative’s Director of Consumer Research. There have been no edits of the content of the interview.
0:0: What do you do?
0:38 You used to do this for the Pew Internet survey…
1:00 Clearly the thinking is not simply that you throw broadband access into an area and everyone jumps onto it…
1:54 You mention two aspects of this. One is people seeing a reason to — a value for — the Internet, and the second is having the set of skills that are required. Do you have any research into either of those two areas?
3:4 : So, let’s say your research shows that Eszter’s Hargittai’s research is basically correct and that in order for people to succeed on the Internet there’s some substantial set of skills that they need that they do not innately have — that it’s a little a harder to be on the Internet than it seems. Could a component of the national broadband strategy include some sort of training?
5:19 In what sort of ways could the broadband plan expand on existing social networks? Could the national broadband plan include …?
6:25 One of the tools you are using is a survey, something you have some experience with at Pew. What’s the process for constructing the survey so that the questions are relevant and not prejudicial, and all the things that survey-makers worry about?
8:06 Is there going to any form of public review or crowd-sourcing of the survey questions themselves?
8:47 When you do the survey, you undoubtedly collect other sorts of data as well — geographic for example. But presumably some other set of stuff — education levels, ages, perhaps race, perhaps socio-economic class or indicators of such. What you collect obviously then tells you what you think might be the relevant factors. Are there any surprises in the sort of metadata you’re collecting?
10:35 So that third point may give you data about whether adoption correlates to social network, what one’s peers and relatives are doing.
12:05 Do you expect the survey will map to any degree the extent to which, what do you call them, evangelists, family evangelists and so forth have an effect…Suppose it were the case that in some communities where there’s a good rate of non-adoption, a single person may have been responsible for some significant level of broadband adoption. She or he just loves the Web and is out getting all the neighbors involved. Will that be exposed or masked by the survey?
14:25 I’m not a survey maker so this maybe be very naive. It seems sort of straightforward to design a survey around current attitudes. It seems far more difficult to do the research to do that will determine what happened in the recent past that brought people onto the Web, whether it was a local kid that started playing a game and that spread, or it was the presence of mentors…
15:58: But how can you not remember your first time on the Internet! [laugh] It may be that I’m a biased sample, but I take your point …
16:14 I want to close asking you one question. You are Director of Consumer Research. Does the “consumer” in that title bother you as much as it bothers me?
16:08 When does the survey begin? When does it end? When will we know?