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British Rely On 6 Websites -- Really?
According to research published on March 6 by Directgov, the UK government’s “super site,” the majority of British Web users only visit six Web sites on a regular basis.  In addition, 95 percent say that they go online with a specific destination in mind.

Now, I’ve searched high and low for the original report (it was published by the UK Internet magazine Webuser), but was unable to find it.  I really wanted to see it because I think this study has huge implications.  Most importantly, if one of the sites people go to is a search engine then the report’s conclusions make sense.  Search engines allow people to access the full scope of the Web, including consumer-generated content.  

However, if they are not, then I’m not so sure about the veracity of the report’s conclusions.  This is because I was given to understand that with the advent of Web 2.0, people were no longer on relying on a few sites, or “information authorities,” for content.

In healthcare, I can understand people relying on only a few sites for information – at least initially.  If most people are like me, then go to a few popular healthcare sites, like WebMD, first to research a condition.  Then, they go to a search engine to find out more. This is how people are exposed to healthcare information contained in blogs, wikis and other consumer-generated Web sites.  

If the British report’s conclusions can be applied globally, does this mean that people are only relying on a few Web sites for information?  If so, what does this mean for blogs and other Web 2.0 Internet technologies, which are generating content on a regular basis?  Are most people ignoring these information sources?

Based on what I know about Internet usage patterns, I think people are getting content from blogs, wikis and other Web 2.0 sources – even if they can’t distinguish them from a “normal” Web site.  So, in short, I think the answer to my questions is “no.”  

I’d love to see the full report so that I could better understand what the implications of these data are.  Until then, I’ll just have to be a little bit skeptical about it. 

For another take on this report, please see On Social Marketing and Social Change.

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