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This information is derived from data on millions of U.S. businesses that work with Square, as well as survey responses collected from over 1,000 small businesses across the U.S. through independent third-party research firm The @HarrisPoll. https://t.co/38obLx8G0o
In April 1997, Wired magazine published a feature with the grand and regrettable title “Birth of a Digital Nation.” It was a good time to make sweeping, sunny pronouncements about the future of the United States and technology. The US stood alone astride the globe. Its stock market was booming. Microsoft was about to become the world’s most valuable company, a first for a tech firm. A computer built by IBM was about to beat the world chess champion at his own game.
And yet, the journalist Jon Katz argued, the country was on the verge of something even greater than prosperity and progress — something that would change the course of world history. Led by the Digital Nation, “a new social class” of “young, educated, affluent” urbanites whose “business, social and cultural lives increasingly revolve around” the internet, a revolution was at hand, which would produce unprecedented levels of civic engagement and freedom.
“I saw … the formation of a new postpolitical philosophy,” Katz wrote. “This nascent ideology, fuzzy and difficult to define, suggests a blend of some of the best values rescued from the tired old dogmas — the humanism of liberalism, the economic opportunity of conservatism, plus a strong sense of personal responsibility and a passion for freedom.”
Comparing the coming changes to the Enlightenment, Katz lauded an “interactivity” that “could bring a new kind of community, new ways of holding political conversations” — “a media and political culture in which people could amass factual material, voice their perspectives, confront other points of view, and discuss issues in a rational way.” Such a sensible, iterative American public life contained, Katz wrote, “the … tantalizing … possibility that technology could fuse with politics to create a more civil society.”
Such arguments, that a rational tech vanguard would spark an emancipatory cycle of national participation, were common at the time. (Though they were not unchallenged.) Katz’s is notable for its relative restraint. “The Long Boom,” an infamous piece published in Wired just three months later, predicted the spread of digital networks “to every corner of the planet” leading to “the great cross-fertilization of ideas, the ongoing, never-ending planetary conversation” that would culminate, by 2020, in “a civilization of civilizations” that would set foot on Mars in species-wide harmony. (Instead, we got Baby Yoda.)
This evangelism had a profound influence on the next 20 years of laissez-faire policy toward and positive public opinion about the digitization of American life. A deeply felt, mostly unexamined, sense that tech would lead to a freer and more convenient existence was the midwife of our digital present. It allowed the creator of a website to rate the attractiveness of Harvard’s women students to build an advertising platform with $55 billion in annual revenue. It allowed an online shop created to sell books to build a $25.7 billion cloud computing network. It allowed a company that started as a way for rich people to summon private drivers to turn itself into $47 billion, well, whatever the hell Uber is.
Though challenged at the edges, this sense lingered. As late as 2012, even as the vast platforms that now control the internet had assumed their current shapes, the bestselling author Steven Johnson argued the glass was half full in his book Future Perfect — that “peer progressives,” enlightened digital natives, would end entrenched social and political problems through crowdsourcing.
Looking back from the shaky edge of a new decade, it’s clear that the past 10 years saw many Americans snap out of this dream, shaken awake by a brutal series of shocks and dislocations from the very changes that were supposed to "create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace.” When they opened their eyes, they did indeed see that the Digital Nation had been born. Only it hadn’t set them free. They were being ruled by it. It hadn’t tamed politics. It sent them berserk.
And it hadn’t brought people closer together.
It had alienated them.
The longest-running measure of alienation in American life is the Harris Poll’s Alienation Index, which has been calculated annually for more than 50 years. It’s a simple survey that asks whether respondents agree with these five statements:
What you think doesn’t count very much anymore.
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Most people with power try to take advantage of people like yourself.
The people running the country don’t really care what happens to you.
You’re left out of things going on around you.
Harris then averages the rates of agreement to reach an index, which is a rough proxy for how included Americans feel in their country and their communities. In 1998, a year after the “Birth of a Digital Nation,” was published, the score was 56%. In 2008, as the platforms became dominant, it was 58%. Last year, it was 69%, the highest it’s ever been. (The lowest level, 29%, came in the Alienation Index’s first year, 1966, the same year HP began selling the 2116A — its first computer.) It’s easy to speculate about the reasons for this increase: a financial crisis that awakened Americans to the widening gaps between rich and poor; an opioid epidemic caused by corporate greed; entrenched racism and sexism; bitterly divided partisan politics; and, of course, technological change — the prism through which Americans view all of these things, and the vector that brings Americans’ feelings about all of these things together into the same few spaces.
I’ve spent six years reporting on deeply alienated people on the internet, during which time I’ve come to see conditions of disconnection and frustration everywhere the Digital Nation touches: on social media, in search algorithms, in the digital economy. In myself. The feelings of powerlessness, estrangement, loneliness, and anger created or exacerbated by the information age are so general it can be easy to think they are just a state of nature, like an ache that persists until you forget it’s there. But then sometimes it suddenly gets much worse.
Read the full story at Buzzfeed.
[caption id="attachment_28671" align="aligncenter" width="702"] Nintey-five percent of women 50+ plan to vote in the 2020 election.[/caption]
The path to victory for candidates in the 2020 elections will run through women age 50 and older, according to a new AARP poll that finds 95 percent of older women plan to cast a ballot in November. The survey shows that these voters are engaged, motivated and plan to closely scrutinize the positions of those seeking their support on such pivotal issues as health care and the economy.
“We think this poll is important because it shows women are going to be a decisive voice in the 2020 election,” says Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer. “This tells us that the candidates better be focused on what older women care about in this election.” And the data clearly shows, LeaMond adds, that “we’ve moved to an era in this election where the old ‘It’s the economy, stupid’ axiom has given way to: ‘It’s health care, stupid.’”
The Harris Poll conducted the survey for AARP. It’s the first in AARP’s “She’s the Difference” series that will continue through the 2020 election season.
This research proves that “women are coming out,” says Tawny Saez, senior strategist at Harris, who says the response that 95 percent of women age 50 and over plan to vote “is one of the highest I’ve ever seen. Women 50-plus have been an overlooked group you cannot overlook any longer.” According to April, 2019 U.S. Census data, women over the age of 50 comprise 28 percent of all registered voters.
Among the 95 percent of women voters who say they are likely to vote, 87 percent say they are very likely. Only 1 percent say they do not plan to vote. This obvious interest in the 2020 election tracks with other recent polls and the analyses of election experts who are predicting that the 2020 turnout will be one of the highest in American history.
The poll was conducted online from Nov. 8 to Nov. 25 among 3,151 registered voters age 50 and over, including 1,924 women. Here is a look at some of the other key findings of this survey.
Read the full story at AARP.
Most Americans surveyed – 92% – think their rights are under siege, according to a poll released Monday.
Americans are most concerned that their freedom of speech (48%), right to bear arms (47%) and right to equal justice (41%) are at risk, says the Harris Poll/Purple Project, which surveyed 2,002 people nationwide.
"When you frame something as a threat, it creates a bit of a political response, and it creates division and encampments of special interest," said John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Poll. That's why political parties and lobbying groups warn supporters with strident language, he said: It's easier to drum up backing for a political cause by talking about an issue in terms of "threats."
But when you start to consider which rights and freedoms really matter, Gerzema said, poll responses changed – and Americans re-prioritized which values they cared about most.
When asked what rights and freedoms Americans would miss if they were taken away – rather than which ones are threatened – poll respondents' concerns generally ticked upward.
Sixty-three percent said they would miss freedom of speech if that right was taken away, while nearly half would miss freedom of expression (46%) and the right to equal justice (45%).
"When you look at the things we really value, what makes America so special is these core tenets of our Constitution," Gerzema said. "I just find it interesting to note how much Americans really value this."
Read the full story at USA TODAY.
In addition, at least half of Arab nationals in each country surveyed read posts from social media influencers, but more do so for their product and service recommendations rather than for their views. And Qataris prove to be outliers on a greater number of behavioral and attitudinal variables since a blockade was imposed on the country in 2017 by several Arab countries.
“NU-Q’s Media Use in the Middle East 2019 reveals a dynamic MENA media environment, one reflecting rapid development in technology, as well as the considerable impact of geopolitics on information consumption patterns and preferences,” said Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO of NU-Q. “We’ve uncovered significant – and in some cases surprising – shifts in attitudes about free expression online, trust in news sources, culture, and media habits. These findings should be of great interest to scholars, businesses, governments and other thought leaders focused on the region.”
The seventh annual media use survey was conducted face-to-face (phone in Qatar) among 7,303 respondents across seven countries: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and United Arab Emirates. The survey was conducted by The Harris Poll from June 20 to October 06, 2019.
The report offers chapters covering bias and credibility, digital privacy, free speech, internet use, media use, news, social media, and social media influencers. There is also one section focusing just on Qatar.
Key findings from the report include:
- Cultural Attitudes. Compared to 2015, fewer nationals now describe themselves as culturally conservative, and more identity as culturally progressive. Qatar saw a dramatic drop in those self-reporting as culturally conservative – 44%, down from 75% in 2015. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia revealed a significant rise in cultural progressivism – 28% up from 15% in 2015, with cultural conservativism falling from 60% to 41% in the same time period.
- Trust in News Media. Trust in national news media – i.e., newspapers, TV and radio – fell in several countries. Qatar showed a significant drop (74% in 2017, down to 62% in 2019), as did Tunisia (56% to 44%). In contrast, trust levels in the UAE remained very high (94% in 2017 and 92% in 2019). Overall, 61% of nationals say they trust media in their own country, 48% in media from other Arab nations, and 49% in outlets from Western countries.
- Right Direction versus Wrong Track. Large majorities of Arab Gulf nationals say their country is headed in the right direction (94% in the UAE, 89% in Saudi Arabia, and 76% in Qatar). These attitudes contrast dramatically with Jordan (48%), Tunisia (24%), and Lebanon (6%).
- Social Media Influencers. At least half of Arab nationals in each surveyed country look at posts from social media influencers, with at least 1 in 5 doing so every day. In addition, more nationals turn to social media influencers for their product and service recommendations (36% in the UAE, and 24% in both Saudi Arabia and Qatar) rather than to adopt their political, religious, or cultural views (e.g., 18% of Saudis, 17% of Emiratis, and just 9% of Qataris). In most cases, more Arab nationals say they get news every day from social media influencers than from newspapers, with Qatar and Saudi Arabia being the exceptions. Instagram (30%) is the most popular platform for following social media influencers, followed by Facebook (24%) and Snapchat (20%), among nationals who use each platform.
- Freedom of Expression. Compared to 2017, more nationals in several countries say people should be allowed to criticize governments online. In Lebanon, 74% of respondents say online government criticism should be permitted, up from 70% in 2017. The figure is 59% in Saudi Arabia in 2019, up from 49%, and in Jordan, 49%, up from 30%. In the UAE, only 24% said it should be permitted (up from 12% in 2017) and in Qatar, just 26% (up from 19%). Also, more nationals in several countries say they feel comfortable talking about politics. That figure is highest in Lebanon (61%, up from 52% in 2017) and Saudi Arabia (58%, up from 51%), and lowest in Qatar (29%, up from 23%).
- Digital Privacy. Concerns among internet users about online surveillance by governments and companies has increased since 2013. Those who worry about governments checking what they do online has increased from 36% in 2013 to 43% in 2019; those who worry about companies has risen from 34% to 44%. Thirty-two percent of nationals say WhatsApp is the platform affording the most privacy, far more than the percentages who named Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat as the most privacy-protective—and the margin is wide in most countries.
- Qataris are outliers on a greater number of behavioral and attitudinal variables since a blockade was imposed on the country in 2017 by several Arab countries, including three countries in this study (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE). Compared to 2017, Qataris now spend less time online (from 45 hours per week in 2017 to 24 hours in 2019), less time with family and friends (from 43 hours to 11 hours per week with family and 13 hours to 6 hours with friends), and are less supportive of internet regulation (from 39% to 28%).
- Streaming Services. Streaming services are gaining popularity. Roughly two-thirds of Qataris, Saudis, and Emiratis report using a streaming service (like Shahid, Anghami, and Netflix, or others), a figure similar to that in the U.S. (Deloitte, 2019).
- Podcasts are more popular in the Arab region than in the U.S. Weekly podcast listenership is higher in five of the Arab countries in this study than in the U.S. (65% Saudi Arabia, 44% UAE, 43% Qatar, 29% Lebanon, 26% Tunisia vs. 22% U.S., Pew Research Center, 2019). More non-nationals than nationals listen to podcasts weekly, especially Western expats (30% Nationals, 35% Arab expats, 38% Asian expats, 60% Western expats).
The complete results of NU-Q’s seventh annual Media Use in the Middle East survey are also available on the interactive website, mideastmedia.org.
By Jason Aten | Inc.
According to a Harris Poll study conducted in partnership with Google, the average American has 27 online accounts that require passwords. Ideally, you should use a different password for each account, but come on, you're a human, not a robot, so that's never going to happen. In fact, 66 percent of Americans (almost two-thirds surveyed!) say they reuse the same passwords for their online banking, email, and social media networks.
Sure, it makes sense to pick a password you can remember, and use it for everything since, well, again, you're not a robot. But what happens to your personal information when someone figures out that password? Considering that one-third of Americans use their pet's name as a password, it's not exactly inconceivable someone might figure it out.
Or, worse, what happens when your information is included in a data breach--something not unheard of at this point? In fact, there's a pretty good chance that at least some of your personal information has been included in at least one of the dozen or so major breaches in the past few years.
I'm a big advocate of taking responsibility for protecting your own personal information, which is why it's good news that this morning, Google announced new tools to help you protect your passwords. Those tools include Google's password manager, which is built into Chrome, as well as your Google Account sign-in.
That password manager will now also flag passwords that are reused, and even let you know if one of the passwords you use has been compromised in a data breach. According to Google, it has already uncovered four billion passwords that have been compromised online.
That study also showed that:
- 43 percent of Americans have shared a password, including 23 percent who have given someone else their email password.
- 22 percent use their own name as a password for at least one account.
- 75 percent say they have trouble keeping track of all their passwords.
- Less than half (45 percent) of Americans change their password, even after a data compromise or breach.
Read the full story at Inc.