The ratings company used to gauge television is now examining the internet and their report from yesterday says Republicans dominate the online community - declaring that of all those online, 36.6 percent are Republican, 30.8 percent are Democrats and 17.3 percent Independents.
More on the issue of Nielsen ratings for online users in a moment - first, though, whatever the report may declare I see something much different. Their own numbers show 48.1 percent of those online are not Republicans. And yet add all the politicized numbers of adults online and you get a total of 84.7 percent. That leaves 15.3 percent.
More number fun -- add 15.3 percent to the 48.1 percent not Republican and you have 63.4 percent. So the Nielsen headline is "Republicans Outnumber Democrats Online." True, but non-Republicans outnumber the GOP 63.4 percent to 36.6 percent.
I loved this paragraph in the report:
" Perhaps contrary to assumptions about who's a Democrat and who's a Republican, neither party seemed to favor a particular gender or age group. Among racial groups, African Americans skewed Democratic; with a composition index of 231, they were over twice as likely to be Democratic as the average Web user. Asians were 36 percent more likely than the average Web user to be Democratic, and Hispanics were 28 percent more likely. White people were slightly more likely to be Republican."
If asked, I would respond that I am an Independent - I don't belong to a Party. I do know the Party that has controlled the House and Senate for the last 12 years and all 3 branches of government for the last 6 years have failed at the job of representation. I've not seen the country this forced into divisive camps since about 1968 when American cities were on fire and assassinations were all over the news.
As for politicizing the Internet, I told a friend recently what I enjoyed most on the Web were all the varied political opinions and expressions being presented. For the first time in my lifetime, I can see/read/hear opinion that is not filtered through television or radio programming distortions or newspaper control of information.
And I think that scares the bejesus out of media conglomerates and government. Free expression is a wild and untamed thing, but without it this is not truly a free country. It's a controlled and caged beast looking for ways to run free again.
My friend reminded me of the early days of our nation, when "pamphleteers" shared information about the world and the events around us. Men like Thomas Paine, and yes, there is a website named for him which I often read and urge others to do as well.
And just this week, the Pentagon announced they are working 24-7 to observe and create information for the internet:
"The Pentagon press secretary, Eric Ruff, says part of the new effort will focus on getting the Defense Department's viewpoint into new media, such as Internet blogs and podcasts, and also to provide department officials for more radio and television programs. At a briefing, he denied a reporter's suggestion that the department is trying to go around reporters for major news organizations who cover the Pentagon on a regular basis."
So there is much emphasis for the Nielsen Media Reasearch Company to corral the World Wild Web -- control is the goal, not observation. Make no mistake, the web is a media that is manipulated -- but almost anyone can do it, you don't have to be a publisher or a broadcaster. You just need a computer and an internet connection and you're off to pretty much define your own worldview.
Tens of thousands of Bloggers are daily and hourly providing information, opinion and debate. I think an America with literate and computer literate writers have already helped improve our country and that should be allowed to flourish and grow and not be subjected to the needs of any one or half-dozen media manipulators.
Having started web surfing in 1992 and working on this wee page for some 15 months, I have barely scratched the surface of all that is possible, seen only an infinitely small portion of the immense world of wired residents. I'm very much a clumsy infant in this world, but for the most part, I still am allowed the freedom to explore as I wish.
Write like ya mean it. It is a rare time and who knows how long it will run free?