Through the dot-com bubble and bust, one trend has never wavered. Every year, millions more people around the world are using the Internet to interact in more ways than ever before — to date, find old classmates, check on medical ailments and cures, to read and express alternative views of the news, and even to get live sales help online. It’s happening at work as well: Want to check your 401(k), pay stub, or file an expense account? Increasingly, that’s all on the Web.

And these new trends complement some long-standing ones: Some 53 million Americans — one in six — now visit a chat room every month, according to market researcher Nielsen/Net Ratings, up from one in 10 in 2001, according to tech consultancy Forrester Research. E-mail is now the most popular online activity for 93% of some 4,431 Web regulars surveyed by Net consultancy Jupiter Research last September. Moreover, entrepreneurs are once again investing in ideas aimed at improving online communication.

More here.