The Canadian Internet Project/Projet Internet Canada (CIP) is a representational survey and study of Canadians (n=3,014) that will provide data and analysis for ongoing research in the area of internet use and non-use patterns, attitudes and behaviour and the Internet’s economic, cultural, and social implications in Canada, in a comparative perspective. CIP is also an affiliated member of the World Internet Project (WIP), an international research consortium which exchanges and compares data obtained in response to a subset of 30 questions posed in more than sixteen countries worldwide. The initial Canadian study coordinated by CIP in 2004 will constitute a benchmark survey, from which it is anticipated that a panel will be formed for longitudinal study every second year. As a result, change and trends in behaviour related to internet use and non-use and their context will best be analysed and reported. The long term objective is to conduct a comprehensive study and assessment every second year of newer media technologies, internet and online web use and non-use by Canadians (e.g.; internet, PDA’s, wireless devices).

 

CIP intends to investigate not only usage patterns, but more importantly, the relationship between online technologies and cultural content and the attitudes and receptivity of the public to new services and forms of content, from both national and global perspectives. The study considers the overall impact of the internet on individual behaviour and social changes produced by innovative content and emerging online technologies. It intends to especially investigate facets of the various divides associated with emerging new media including: economic, linguistic, cultural and social. The key objectives will be to understand how lives are being transformed by the emergence of new digital content and channels of distribution. Good data on these patterns is important for policy makers, cultural and social institutions, businesses, established media, and entrepreneurs. Although in the past there have been many commercial internet use surveys, none to our knowledge propose to combine a panel design, targeted sub-samples, as comprehensive a network of research associates, and a commitment to sophisticated multivariate statistical analysis. Funding permitting, CIP intends to realize all these goals.

 

The opportunity to be a partner with WIP is particularly important to generate transnational comparisons with the data obtained in Canada. WIP has just recently completed its fourth annual study in the United States, and released its first international report comparing results from sixteen different countries. The goal for CIP in 2004 is to design and conduct a benchmark study so that Canada may catch up with other countries in WIP, most of whom have already conducted and published the results of at least one national survey.

 

Once the survey has been conducted and results published, it will be possible to proceed to extend the survey and broaden its scope on the basis of feedback from the community and CIP constituents. It is envisioned that in the future, panels surveys will further explore other variables such as third language communities and younger age groups (under 18 years).

 

The participating partners in CIP include academic, industry and government stakeholders. Beyond the subset of 30 questions, all stakeholders will contribute specific questions for the survey, findings of which will be analysed and disseminated in a comprehensive report. Raw data and findings will be made available to the public-at-large, with appropriate credit, after release of the report. It is anticipated that academic research associates will use the data and results for further study, multivariate analysis, and publication. CIP intends to widely disseminate the report and ensure it and all ancillary research and publication are well promoted.

 

The senior partner in CIP is the academic stakeholder: the Canadian Media Research Consortium/Consortium Canadien de Recerche sur les Médias (CMRC/CCRM). The CMRC is a not-for-profit partnership of three university organizations dedicated to leading-edge research and the promotion of public discussion on the Canadian media. The participating academic institutions of the CMRC include: Le Centre d’études sur les médias (Université Laval and L’école des Hautes études commerciales), University of British Columbia, York University/Ryerson University (in partnership). The industry financial partner is Bell Canada. Government partners and funding contributors come from the following Government of Canadian departments: Canadian Heritage, Industry Canada and Treasury Board Secretariat Chief Information Officer Branch. Other partners and funding contributors include: Telefilm Canada and the Ontario Media Development Corporation.

 

CIP is guided and peer reviewed by an Advisory Council comprised of members from various academic institutions and representatives from private and public undertakings. Administration of CIP is delegated to two established and well known centres for research and investigation of communication and culture: the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies (York University) and CITÉ de l’Université de Montréal (Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Emerging Technologies). Project Co-Directors and the Principal Investigators for the study are: Professor Charles Zamaria (Ryerson University/Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund), Dr. André H. Caron (CITÉ de l’Université de Montréal). The Chair of CMRC – Dr. Fred Fletcher – will also participate in the management team and collaborate on research tasks.

 

The timeline for the collection of data, analysis and reportage is between March, 2004 and February, 2005. The methodology involves 3,014 telephone interviews using 75-80 questions, among a randomly selected, proportionate sample of Canadians (over-weighted for francophones). The sample will be weighted to ensure it accurately reflects population composition as reported by Statistics Canada. A third party research company, CROP/Research House was commissioned to undertake the telephone survey. All principal stakeholders will have exclusive access to the data from the study until release of the official report and publication, anticipated in December, 2004. At this time, raw data from the survey will be released to a network of interested research associates for further analysis of the findings and publication.