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The Pew Internet & American Life Project, in Washington, D.C., continues to do very interesting studies on the cultural aspects of the Internet. Their most recent report provides some solid survey data showing how engrained the Internet has become in American life. Seem obvious in a way but nice to see that someone is putting solid creditability behind the reality that the Internet is a fundamental part of our lives.

More than three quarters of the nation’s Internet users (78%) did some form of holiday activity via email and the Web this holiday season. They used email to socialize and arrange holiday gatherings, reconnect with old friends, and plan religious activities. They browsed online malls and bought gifts in higher numbers than last year. In all, 71% of Internet users went online for some kind of social or spiritual activity and 53% did some kind of e-commerce – either online window-shopping or purchasing gifts.

Email is increasingly important to online Americans as a tool for arranging gatherings and sending greetings: 48% of email users sent and received messages from family members about holiday events and plans; 45% of email users did that with friends; and 27% exchanged holiday cards and letters via email. All of those activities have increased since last year.