The Internet in everyday life: some hows, wheres, whys and why nots


Date Thursday October 22nd 2009
Time 4:00-5:00pm
Venue George E. Pake Auditorium, PARC

PARC Forum

The Internet World Usage Statistics for August 2009 suggest that of the 6,767,805,208 people in the world, 1,668,870,408 are on the Internet. This is 25% of the world’s population with growth of 362% in the last 9 years.

The world before the Internet is a fading recollection. For some, the world without the Internet is inconceivable. In between the wealth of use statistics and our own personal experiences, there is much we do
not understand about how the Internet fits into everyday lives. Creating new Internet experiences, enhancing those that already exist, and developing applications and services that give long term value necessitates we better understand the churn of uptake, adoption, modification and abandonment of internet infrastructures, services and applications. We need to better understand how the Internet affects people’s behaviours offline as well as online.

In this talk, I will discuss several projects that combine analysis of usage statistics, analysis of popular and niche Internet sites and services, and qualitative investigations into how people weave online and offline experiences. I will address mundane uses, exciting discoveries and perennial frustrations, considering for a number of domains how people’s ‘asks’ are and are not served by existing applications and services. More generally, I will discuss how a scientifically grounded, mixed methods approach to human-centered evaluation, grounded ideation and socio-technical innovation both brings value to business and contributes to fundamental research.



Elizabeth Churchill is a Principal Research Scientist at Yahoo! Research in Santa Clara, CA where she manages the Internet Experiences research group.  Elizabeth has an undergraduate degree in Experimental
Psychology and an MSc in Knowledge Based Systems, both from the University of Sussex in the UK, and a PhD from the University of Cambridge in Cognitive Science. She has published on many topics including implicit learning, human-agent systems, mixed initiative dialogue systems and social aspects of information seeking. Her
current work covers areas such as mediated communication and collaboration, social media, mobile connectivity, transmedia technologies, digital archive and memory, and the development of emplaced media spaces.

Until September of 2006, she worked at PARC in the Computing Science Lab. Prior to that she led the Social Computing Group at FX Palo Laboratory, Fuji Xerox’s research lab in Palo Alto. Elizabeth writes a column for ACM interactions, and is the current VP of ACM SigCHI.

Additional information

Focus Areas

Our work is centered around a series of Focus Areas that we believe are the future of science and technology.

Licensing & Commercialization Opportunities

We’re continually developing new technologies, many of which are available for Commercialization.


PARC scientists and staffers are active members and contributors to the science and technology communities.