Curiosity Expert: Lee Rainie
Director, Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project
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Lee Rainie is the Director of the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, a non-profit, non–partisan "fact tank" that studies the social impact of the Internet. Since December 1999, the Washington D.C. research center has explored how people's Internet use affects their families, communities, health care, education, civic and political life, and work places.
The Project is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and has issued more than 300 reports based on its surveys that examine people's online activities and the Internet's role in their lives. All of its reports and datasets are available online for free at: http://www.pewinternet.org.
The Project's research findings often center on its regular surveys that monitor online life, including the ways in which behavior changes as more experience is gained and connections to the Internet have been upgraded. In addition, Project reports have dealt with such topics as:
- the impact of people's use of social media, email and cell phones on their key relationships
- how people use the Internet to extend social networks and use those networks for social and economic advancement
- how people differ in their use of the Internet and their overall relationship to digital technology such as tablet computers, cell phones, iPods and digital cameras
- the way that Internet users act on the health information they get online and how they share their stories in peer-to-peer health communities
- the way teenagers and college students use the Internet, especially how social networking sites and instant messaging affect their social worlds
- the impact of the internet on campaigns, elections, and Americans' overall civic life
- the degree to which people are using the Internet to filter political and issue-related information
- the role of online dating in the formation of romantic relationships
- the impact of spam and spyware on people's online experiences
- Americans' attitudes about trust and privacy online and the way people manage their digital identities
- the way artists use the Internet
- the way people use the Internet during significant news moments such as the 9/11 terror attacks and the start of the Iraq war
- the durability and usefulness of online communities
- the reasons why people do not have Internet access
- how the Internet and cell phones have changed U.S. workplaces
- how the Internet will evolve in the next 10-15 years
Lee is a co-author of Up for Grabs, Hopes and Fears and Challenges and Opportunities. All are based on Project surveys about the future of the internet. He is also writing a book entitled Networked: The new social operating system with sociologist Barry Wellman about the social impact of the Internet and mobile phones for MIT Press. It will be released in January 2012.
Lee and other Project staff have testified before Congress on the new media environment, privacy and family issues related to Internet use. They have also given briefings and presentations to White House officials, several government commissions, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, the U.S. Conference of Governors, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Conference of State Legislators and hundreds of other local, state, and federal officials. Project findings are used by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the World Economic Forum communications and media group.
Lee has lectured about the Project's work at dozens of universities, including Harvard, Yale, Penn, Stanford, University of California-Berkeley, Princeton, University of Southern California, Penn State, Georgetown, the National Defense University and Johns Hopkins. The reports have been covered extensively by global media organizations and Project researchers are often sought for expert analysis on online developments.
Prior to receiving the grant, Lee was managing editor of U.S. News & World Report, a post that was the second-ranking editorial job at the magazine. During his tenure at the magazine he covered American politics, and edited sections of the magazine that covered national news, developments in science and society, and broad cultural trends.
He is a graduate of Harvard University and has an MA in political science from Long Island University.
He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the cable television's Research Channel. He is a member of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which administers the Webby awards for outstanding Web sites. He sits on the advisory boards to the communications departments at the University of Minnesota and Elon University in North Carolina. He is also on the advisory board for the National Cancer Institute's public education campaign.
He is married and has four children.