While politicians love to cite percentage of Internet users as a meaningful metric for Internet development, this may not be the case. In this example from late 2011 in Azerbaijan, we use that the sociodemographic differences between those that do not know what the Internet is, those who never use the Internet, and those that use the Internet daily are stark.
What are Azerbaijani Internet users doing? If around half of daily users are noting these popular activities, where are the other half going?
Thus, be skeptical when you read or hear about X% of people in a country are online. That may include the old man who got online at an Internet cafe once 4 years ago. It might include the woman who only uses the Internet when her son opens Skype for her on a holiday to speak with distant family.
Azerbaijan is still in the early adopter stage of Internet diffusion. Thus it is unsurprising that elites are doing elite things online. As time goes on and more Azerbaijanis get online, it will be interesting to see what activities they engage in. If Azerbaijani later adopters are anything like those in Armenia and Georgia, we’ll see a tremendous gap between what elites are doing online and what everyone else does.