Project Description

General Information

The goal of CIP is to present a series of snapshots — an informed Canadian perspective —on the ways our world has been transformed by the adoption of the Internet, the shifts in traditional media diets and the continuing proliferation of emerging technologies. Exploring the interrelationship between these three elements and their assimilation into the everyday lives of Canadians tells much about the behaviour and attitudes of Canadians in the context of the changing media environment. The objective is to facilitate informed dialogue about the many issues raised by these transformations.

Compared to most other countries around the world, Canada has one of the highest levels of Internet penetration and broadband access. Canadians have swiftly and effortlessly adopted new technologies and applications, and at the same time, have maintained a strong appetite for traditional media, finding ways to supplement rather than replace their existing media diet with newer media and activities through multi-tasking and concurrent use. The Internet, technology and media influence and shape the behaviour, attitudes and daily lives of Canadians like no other cultural, social, political or economic element in society. It is vital, therefore, that industry, the cultural sector, policy makers, content and service producers and the public have the best possible information about Canadians’ relationship to the Internet, technologies and media to accurately assess and respond to the impact of the rapidly change media environment.

The CIP studies are concerned with the Internet as a medium of communication, information, entertainment and commerce. Each of these facets of the Internet has implications for Canadian cultural development, dissemination of the news and information, emergence of new forms of social and community interaction, new forms of commerce, and delivery of government services, to name just a few topics of investigation. Rapid change in these areas makes trend analysis extremely important.

In order to provide analysis that goes beyond standard user surveys, CIP surveys have large samples as well as specialized sub-samples, which support unique forms of analysis. The interviews conducted are thorough (average of approximately 40 minutes per case) and provide a very representative profile of Canadians (n=3,000+, 12 years and older).

The benchmarks established in its initial survey in 2004 provided an opportunity to identify and analyze trends in use patterns and perceptions of both old and new media.

The 2007 data comprise nearly 900 variables and indices on a wide range of subjects. The study provides important data on ownership and use of digital devices, including those that deliver mobile Internet access, for both users and non-users.  CIP offers a sound foundation for a broad understanding of the continuing impact traditional and newer media have on our day-to-day lives.

Each iteration of the survey includes a series of basic questions about Internet use and non-use, ICT ownership and traditional media use, as well as the common questions from WIP, and new questions to deal with the emergence of new devices, novel online activities, and changes in the traditional media.

As a research program, CIP has a number of distinctive features:

  • CIP is constituted as an active consortium of ten institutional partners representing academic, government and industry constituencies, each of which contributed sector-specific issues for analysis and directly participated in the design and development of the questionnaire.
  • CIP is an ongoing, longitudinal research project that assesses trends and developing patterns of behaviour and attitudes over time.
  • CIP conducts comprehensive surveys that provide unmatched detail on important aspects of the attitudes and media use patterns — online and offline — of Canadian Internet users.
  • CIP provides detailed and innovative analysis of media use and attitudes of Canadians who were not using the Internet at the time of the survey, with attention to their reasons for not being online and their views on the Internet.
  • CIP presents an analysis of how non-users and occasional users compare with light, moderate and heavy users.
  • CIP analyzes changes in consumption patterns of the Internet across a wide range of activities and applications.
  • CIP examines attitudes towards the Internet as compared to traditional media.
  • CIP compares Canadian media use across a range of demographic, behavioural and attitudinal variables and indices with that of other countries participating in the 2007 World Internet Project.

CIP investigates not only usage patterns, but more importantly, the relationship between new digital technologies and cultural content – both with respect to changing attitudes and receptivity of the public to new services and forms of content, from both national and global perspectives.

In addition to publishing a major report after each survey, the CIP investigators undertake more detailed analysis for presentation to partners, industry and academic conferences and for publication.  The CIP data are available to Research Associates for academic research and educational use.

As the founder of WIP, Dr. Jeffrey Cole (USC Annenberg School of Communications, Center for the Digital Future), observed in the first US–WIP report published in 2001, Surveying the Digital Future, 2001,

Had this type of research been conducted on the evolution of television as it emerged in the late 1940’s, the information would have provided policy makers, the media, and ultimately historians with invaluable insights about how broadcasting has changed the world. Our objective is to ensure that the World Internet Project and its yearly reports capitalize on the opportunity that was missed as television evolved. This way we can better understand the effects of the Internet as it grows, and not as a postscript after it has already matured.

It is our sincere hope that ongoing reports from CIP will achieve these goals.