statscan.gif“An Internet user is someone who used the Internet from any location for personal non-business reasons in the 12 months preceding the survey. A home user is someone who reported using the Internet from home, for the same reasons.”

The above is taken from a set of definitions by Statistics Canada that were used in a report released this week on Canadian Internet use habits based on data collected last year. Unless there is a lot more information to which the public doesn’t have access, it is the last time in the report the distinction is really made. It doesn’t specify, for example, whether more people used the Internet at home or somewhere else (which would have told us something about the appetite for mobile Web experiences). It doesn’t highlight any ways in which home users are more predisposed to blogging, posting pictures, or whether “external” Internet users preferred to listen to music or watch movies. On the basis of what StatsCan released, the two definitions are meaningless. But then, so is the idea of segregating non-business Internet use anyway.

StatsCan preferred to emphasize a much more familiar story in its report – that there is a digital divide in Canada that determines who is getting online. Get ready for it: those with high incomes and education in more connected provinces show higher use of the Internet! Not that the government shouldn’t be taking greater steps to improving access to broadband (something they perhaps can attend to once they’re done getting rich off the wireless spectrum auction), but there are other areas where StatsCan could have probed a little deeper.

The agency’s definition of an “Internet user” sounds like someone sitting in an Internet caf

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