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'WWW binds the world together'

As per a new study, people are increasingly turning to Internet for help at a crisis point in life, or to seek a new job or home.

india Updated: Jan 27, 2006 12:24 IST

Not long ago, the Internet was decried by dissidents of the online revolution as a threat to society, sure to split families, fracture friendships and turn users into computer crazed geeks.

That's not how things are unfolding, according to a new survey published on Wednesday which finds that far from driving people apart, new tools for email, online phone calls, webcams and instant messaging are bringing them closer.

The Pew Internet and American Life project research, one of the first studies to uncover such a trend, finds people are increasingly turning to the net for help at a crisis point in life, or to seek a new job or home.

"There has been a growing realisation the Internet is not this strange beast," sociologist Barry Wellman of the University of Toronto in Canada, who helped prepare the report, said.

The report, "The Strength of Internet Ties," finds that rather than supplanting contact with others, the Internet, largely through email, fits into people's lives and makes it easier to stay in touch.

"The larger, the more far-flung, and the more diverse a person's network, the more important email is," said Jeffrey Boase, another University of Toronto researcher who co-authored the report.

"You can't make phone calls or personal visits to all your friends very often, but you can 'cc' them regularly with a couple of keystrokes. That turns out to be very important."

The Pew report finds that people "mobilize" their social networks when they face problems or important decisions.

First Published: Jan 26, 2006 16:36 IST