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The Internet

Online Population now Half Billion 273

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the they-can't-all-fit-in-my-living-room dept.
mattvd writes "According to CNN, the number of people with Web access at home by the end of 2001 was 498 million." Not surprisingly, Asia is growing the fastest. It's amazing that in only 10 years or so, the net has exploded so far, so fast, and now touches 10% of the earths population.
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Online Population now Half Billion

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  • On Spam. (Score:2, Funny)

    by forged (206127)
    Let's hope all these new sexy users won't spam my mailbox [mailto] more than it is already :)
    • They already are, dude. Heck, I could've said there were a half-billion people online three months ago...I got at least that many "I send you this file for your advice" spams. :)
    • Alas many of those installations in Asia have open email servers and proxies by default. They'll rot in a lot of blacklists until they learn to be good netizens.
  • Wait (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HanzoSan (251665)
    When 600 million Chinese, 100 million japanese, 300 million indians, and 40-50 million africans get online, thats when the real online revolution will take place.

    Right now we need to make sure they all have the choice to use Linux, give them some good development tools, graphics tools, and just wait for them to produce information which benifits the world, hopefully they wont be as capitalist as us and patent everything or else we'll be at their mercy.
    • Don't you mean 1.3 billion Chinese? Also, regardless of whether they use Linux, dumb terminals, or that Other Operating System, this would be a huge step forward for free speech and democracy.


      Although it's not likely to happen anytime soon, having China connected would more than triple the percentage of humans that use the web.



      • I dont believe 100 percent of every chinese personn will be connected. But i do believe maybe 70 percent will.
      • Re:Wait (Score:2, Informative)

        by sc_demandred (309821)
        Although it's not likely to happen anytime soon, having China connected would more than triple the percentage of humans that use the web.


        Sure, but if you read this article [weeklystandard.com], it seems unlikely that the Chinese government will allow much in the way of freedom over the internet. The US would do well to squeeze China into relaxing the iron fist of censorship in order to promote freedom of Web... then we will see some serious innovation and the realization of the internet's potential.


        • The USA wants the government not to control the Chinese internet, so their our US Capitalist big businesses can take control.

          We dont have freedom on the net ourselves, China wont have it either, its about control, the US wants to dominate the internet and China is a big market, by opening them up it opens them up to Capitalism.

          China is most likely to use linux than we are, i thought we were all about freedom.
      • Re:Wait (Score:2, Informative)

        by skilef (525335)
        Also, regardless of whether they use Linux, dumb terminals, or that Other Operating System, this would be a huge step forward for free speech and democracy.

        This subject has been discussed previous. According to this article/discussion [slashdot.org] about E-mail censorship and this one [slashdot.org] about WWW-censorship, free speech on the internet (and democracy?) will take a little longer in China.
    • When 600 million Chinese, 100 million japanese, 300 million indians, and 40-50 million africans get online, thats when the real online revolution will take place.

      Revolution for whom? Us, or them?

      It just seems that at best, open and cheap Internet access for Asia and Africa will have them devouring our culture, not the other way around.

      It's not that our culture is so bad... wait, yes it is.

    • There's not going to be a revolution. Why should there? Has anyone English been significantly affected by the addition of millions of Japanese pages? Will the addition of billions of Chinese pages make any difference? No.

      Even the addition of millions of Chinese surfers will not make a difference to the web. They're going to be off surfing, producing, and supporting mostly Chinese sites, and we will stay in the English ones.

      In fact, I would propose that the addition of all those extra people makes the Net less prone to revolution, not more. If they were competing with us for scare resources, that would be one thing. But the Net will expand exponentially to accommodate them and they can all do their own thing. In their own language.
  • What do they use it for? Surfing? Shopping? IM? what? I think that information would be more useful than just a numbner.
  • by suso (153703) on Thursday March 07, 2002 @02:13PM (#3125651) Homepage Journal
    But 10% seems like so little. As John "Maddog" Hall says, that just means that 5 billion people haven't choosen their operating system yet.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There are SIX billion people on Earth, Taco, not 4.98 billion.

    (But what's a billion people or so between friends, right?)
  • by slipkid (442316) on Thursday March 07, 2002 @02:15PM (#3125668) Homepage Journal
    ...And, in related news, half of the Online Population still believe that "the Internet" and "AOL" are synonymous (the same half, incidentally, who thought 'The Net' was a great film).

  • End of the WWW (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DCram (459805) on Thursday March 07, 2002 @02:15PM (#3125671)
    With news like this comming out it makes me wonder what these people who say that the WWW is going to die are thinking. With a base as large as that it is near imposible to kill it. Im sure there will be new tech that comes along and makes the WWW better faster and friendlier but die? I don't think so.

    Now the problem is with all these people fighting over bandwidth when are chaeper faster pipes be available for us to use? When can I say hey there are 1 mill users hitting my site and there is no lag?

    I also wonder what these people are looking at. 90% porn and the other 10% refrence material and such.

    • Brave words, I've heard them before, from thousands of species across thousands of worlds since long before you were created. And now they are all AOL users.
    • Re:End of the WWW (Score:3, Insightful)

      by denzo (113290)
      I don't think the argument is that the Web will disappear or not be used anymore, but that its content-to-noise ratio will worsen. In its beginnings, the WWW had mostly academic documents, which could be considered high-quality and accurate information. As the number of Internet users has grown, there is a greater percentage of garbage compared to useful information. We now have annoying pop-ups, DoS'ed IRC servers, messageboard full of flamefests, etc. Internet advertising companies are now spreading themselves thin over millions of Web pages, causing advertising revenue for each of the Web sites to fall drastically. Various big Web sites are disappearing because they cannot afford their bandwidth, and free file downloads are becoming more scarce (the exceptions are large networks like ZDNet, or servers that cater to limited groups like Linux... but when Linux REALLY picks up, will we still have the same access to free FTP mirrors?).

      If you look at it that way, the future of the Web looks kinda bleak.

  • I find it amazing that there could be half a billion people online and I still can't find decent content... Slashdot excluded of cource.
  • Population figures (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Reedo (234996)
    How much of the earth's population has access to TV?

    There are 6.2 billion people [osearth.com] on the planet now, by the way.
  • Pretty close (Score:3, Interesting)

    by quantaman (517394) on Thursday March 07, 2002 @02:17PM (#3125691)
    With the current population 5,995,544,836 that makes the percent of the people online only about 8.3%. In reality it's probably even lower when you think about how many millions of those are using AOL connections;)
  • 400+ million people going to the same site at the same time... and you thought 'slashdot effect' was bad ;). IMHO with the diversity of the net, how can one government control it? US laws are fine for US citizens, but how can we pass laws that will affect the world... We don't control it?! It really makes you wonder who really *controls* the net? So many people, from so many countries, how can anyone possible have the 'authority' to decide what happens to the net. It may have started in the US (thank you mr gore, ;)) but now it is beyond our borders. IMHO so it is beyond our 'laws'.
  • Let's just hope there's no Slashdot-Asia planned for the near future. That would REALLY take the Slashdot effect to a new level....

    • Re:Slashdot/Asia? (Score:5, Informative)

      by President Chimp Toe (552720) on Thursday March 07, 2002 @02:25PM (#3125769)
      Let's just hope there's no Slashdot-Asia planned for the near future. That would REALLY take the Slashdot effect to a new level....

      Erm, there is dude. Check it out, its japanese [slashdot.jp].

      When we get chinese slashdot, then we really start frigging worrying.
      • Babelfish had fun with this one...

        • (Score: 2, it is strange funny)
        • The | parent comment which writes the reply [ vis-a-vis this ]
        • "The nest it does" and "the even way" for sorting messages. I like the sound of the even way.
        • and.. It has been said S0R5, " article of the Yomiuri Shimbun Company (ahead linking Yahoo! News) according to, before pouring radiation, when the beer is drunk, it was found that it is the possibility where it can prevent the obstacle due to being bombed so is. If it can prevent truly, being to be funny, it does, if you want to know, but whether the above that you happen to think such a thing with something. "

        I love the fish!

  • Yes, now let's implement IPv6 before these 'netless' people come online. It will be easier with less people, so start speeding things up =)
    • I couldn't agree more.

      Of course, it'll also mean many more technology jobs, which is exactly what we need right now.. who needs y2k? :)

    • by Anonymous Coward
      It will be easier with less people

      Unless you plan to chop those people up and weigh the total, it is fewer people. Knowing the difference might make you more attractive to chicks.

  • And how many of those 500 million "people" are actually 'bots, spam-email accounts, and extra slashdot troll accounts?
  • By the time we got to www.woodstock.com,
    We were half a billion strong.....
  • am from india.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by univgeek (442857) on Thursday March 07, 2002 @02:23PM (#3125749)
    And although systems are expensive, and most college students do not have computers/internet access from home, there are hundreds of internet cafes in each city. The rate for access is around 25c to 50c an hour. They also allow gaming, voice chat etc. Since the cost of local and international long distance is quite high in India (cross-subsidizing the rural areas) a lot of illegal (currently) voice chat takes place in the browsing cafes.


    Most students in the cities have email and access the net quite regularly, if only for gaming or chat through these cyber-cafes and not at home. Also gives privacy ;-)....


    And once the government legalises VoIP there is definitely going to be a huge boom in the use of the cyber-cafes.


    I am pretty sure that this must be the case in most developing economies. Of course like this article says [indiatimes.com] it needs to become a productivity tool.


    • Well you see, theres only billions of people left and millions of internet cafes and terminals in 3rd world countries who need an OS thats easy to use and cheap.

      Say hello to linux on the desktop.

      Not to mention Linux on the desktop would actually help promote innovation through contribution via GNU.
      • The only two internet cafes I've ever been in, in California, were 100% Mac, just for the record. So if you wanna say Unix on the Desktop is the way to go, then your only viable option is the Mac. Linux just doesn't cut it... and certainly Windows does not.

        Don't mean to start a flame war, I'm just here to correct the statement that Win95 is the only thing used in internet cafes. It absolutely is not.
    • by Kesha (5861)
      Why is VoIP illegal in India? Seems silly, they can't really force you to use a conventional phone, right?

      Paul.
      • Err... yes they can. The telephony sector was a government monopoly. India was (is) a socialist state. That is not truly capitalistic. Only now the government has allowed competition in the local loop, and telephony in general. The international long-distance market was recently privatised (meaning competition from private companies) and so too the domestic long distance.


        VoIP is legal from March 1st or something. The only condition is that service providers must state if the call is toll quality or not in their ads.


        The cost of long distance was high in order to cross subsidize the rural areas. They are slowly giving up on this, although quite a large portion of the country now has telephony access due to this.

      • by PaxTech (103481) on Thursday March 07, 2002 @02:57PM (#3126007) Homepage
        Why is VoIP illegal in India?

        Because India has some seriously entrenched corruption problems. VoIP would hurt the phone company, and the phone company bosses wouldn't like that.

        Here in the USA of course, we are MUCH more civilized and would NEVER [enron.com], EVER [slashdot.org] let a corporations concern over profits dictate our laws and regulations.

  • I think if you look around you'll notice this in discussion boards accross the online realm. A statistic a remember from a few years ago said that GenerationX [of course] was the fastest growing while the baby-boomers, of all people, were the second fastest. But, of late, I've noticed a more well rounded internet community.
    Of course, some age groups are still more likely to participate in voicing their opinions than others...

    Oh, and though a bit off topic - I just can't get used to that Hong Kong, China thing... its just... weird.
  • by isaac (2852) on Thursday March 07, 2002 @02:25PM (#3125768)
    I'm not surprised that the internet has reached 10% of the world's population - it's the richest 10%. I'll be more (pleasantly) surprised when the internet reaches 30% of the world's population - because then it will truly have made inroads into currently unserved or underserved populations - i.e. the 85% of the world that lives in what people in the US, EU, Japan, S. Korea, etc. would call abject poverty. (People in the 80th or 70th percentile, though, are themselves significantly wealthier than the 60% of the world's population that could truly be described as economically poor.)

    For a little perspective, check out the brochure [itu.int] from the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference 2002. A hopeful note, according to that link: "Africa now has more than twice as many main telephone connections as Tokyo and 85 percent of today's world population share 45 percent of all telephone lines (see Figure 1). In comparison, in 1984, 90 percent of the world's people used only ten percent of all telephone lines."

    -Isaac

    • Well, while not wanting to wish "abject poverty" on anyone - I think reality is, we'll always have a large percentage of people falling into that classification. Some of it is due to the geography. There are certain places in the world that just aren't good to inhabit if you want to earn money and live a good quality of life.

      If the Internet does eventually reach 30% of the population, I'd say that's due to the "trickle down" effect. PCs that the wealthier 10% discard as useless get recycled into quite usable Internet terminals for people who can't afford something newer.

      Of course, the communications infrastructure is the limiting factor, ultimately. You can sit there with the nicest PC in the world, but you can't get online if nobody will give you a connection.
      • I think reality is, we'll always have a large percentage of people falling into that classification. Some of it is due to the geography. There are certain places in the world that just aren't good to inhabit if you want to earn money and live a good quality of life.

        Canadian endures cold winters and it is a developed country. Texas is quite warn and is part of a developped country. Israel tamed desert.

        In a word, poverty has little to do with location and much more with history.
  • With over 600 million and more on the way, we are gonna have to come up with more adjectives to describe our Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Games.

    I'd like to think it would be something easier to pronounce this time around, but it will probably end up being WWSMEPOOSRPG (World Wide Super Mega Entire Population On One Server Role Playing Game).

    • >I'd like to think it would be something easier to pronounce this time around, but it will probably end up being >WWSMEPOOSRPG (World Wide Super Mega Entire Population On One Server Role Playing Game).

      My guess it will be called... The Matrix...
  • First, there's over 6 billion people in the world, not 5 billion, so the 10% figure is a little off.

    A 32 bit number (ipv4 address are 32 bits) can have 4 billion numbers in it. With the 10.*.*.* (16 million) and 192.168.*.* (65 thousand), there's less, and of course we have routers... so if we have only 200 addresses available on each subnet, we get 1.6 e+09.

    That makes 1,600,000,000 1 billion, 600 million. If we really have a problem with too few IP addresses, there's a lot more than 490 million internet users.
    • You're forgetting about people having multiple internet connected devices... one at home... one at work... maybe their cell phone... PDA. I also seriously doubt they count things like commercial web servers, DNS servers, mail servers, etc as "people". Just my $0.02.
    • The idea is to have a bunch of internet connected devices all with their own ip addresses. And each person may own several of those.

      Also the allocation of IP addresses is not completely efficient. I dont remember exactly how it works, but there are groups of addresses differentiated by the first digits, and different organizations own those groups, so one group may be over crowded while others are empty.

      • Frankly I want to get an IP addie assigned at birth, and then spawn my devices off as ports on that IP. Like, my machine at work could be first.middle.last.unique:666 and my machine at home could be port 777, and my coffee maker could be port 42, and my refrigeratore could be port 32, and my TV would be whatever...
        Then I wouldn't need so many ip addies, since no one is going to end up with more than 65K devices until we start using nanotech and my pants need 3 billion ip addies to administer all of the fibers...>:)

        Kintanon
  • by fleener (140714) on Thursday March 07, 2002 @02:29PM (#3125803)
    Here is the PDF from Nielsen [nielsen-netratings.com]. It contains more data than the CNN story.
  • ...that some of these people haven't downloaded the latest version of the Internet. I actually went out the other day to buy a new version of the Internet, and the sales guy looked at me like I was stupid. So I smacked him.
  • Yes, the population is going up, but will this trend continue to accelerate of is there a glass ceiling that we will hit with the large chunk of the world the can barely get a phone connection (if that, in most areas...) we will run out of existing infrastructure shortly in these countries, and good infrastructure cant be put in place overnight...
  • My parents have a high speed connection at their home, but it's for me when I visit. Calling them members of the online population would be sort of misleading. Now we're down to 497,999,998 people actually using the internet from home. Sure they have access, but that means next to nothing in terms of how much they'll purchase online - and THIS is what I assume those numbers will be used for when shady CEO's are trying to convince their board members that they'll be selling 10x as much whatever online in a year, and that the funding is a good investment. ~D
  • by Petrox (525639)
    So as I don't come off sounding too cynical, let me first say that I think the Internet is a powerful and important set of technologies. It has changed the way I work, play and interact with others.

    We cannot lose sight of the fact, however, that it is not the only way to work, live and be social. As the article states, 90% of the world is still not online, and it's a safe bet to say that many of those have probably never even heard of the Internet, and perhaps have no interest in it. While the propogation of these types of technologies throughout Asia and Africa would no doubt improve many lives and perhaps even give credibility to the notion that technology can help people transcend constraining economic, social and political barriers, we must still remember that we are living in a mostly offline world in which technology and modernity has just as often been used to oppress, homogenize and destroy.

    So yes, the growth of the Internet is amazing, but, as with everything else, we should no be surprised to find unintended consequences from its growth.

  • Whether we like it or not, there are people who fear, loath and hate the western view of life, or at least the materialistic and individualistic aspects of it. Life will not be cozy when these people realize that the internet is yet another way that western thought is invading their culture.

    If I was one of these individuals, I would do everything in my power to either destroy or neuter the liberating effects(or as they see it, perverting) of such a worldview. As I see it, we should concentrate on infrastructure security now, before these individuals realize the threat that comes knocking via the net. Instead of worrying about content provisions(yes they are important, but the market rules the people you fear) we should be more concerned with methods for shutting down DDOS's and tracking and stopping of virus makers who would want nothing more than to bring this medium to its grave.
    • If I was one of these individuals, I would do everything in my power to either destroy or neuter the liberating effects(or as they see it, perverting) of such a worldview.

      You mean like trying to destroy its proponents by flying planes into their buildings?

      Bush's war on terrorism is defending Western civilization, and the Internet is a product and a symbol of Western civilization, no matter who else has ultimately ended up using it.

  • 10%, 8%, 20% ...? (Score:1, Informative)

    by TheCrayfish (73892)
    It is widely reported that more than 3 billion people in the world have no access to a telephone at all. In fact, according to the Center for Media Education [cme.org], 18% of Americans lack telephone service.

    This makes the number of people online something like 15 to 16 percent of the population with telephone access.

    You can find some more interesting information about telephone and Internet access around the world here [itu.int] and here [mg.co.za].
    • Umm.. WRONG! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PaxTech (103481)
      Did you even READ the article you cited? It does NOT say 18% of Americans lack telephone service, it says 18% of HOUSEHOLDS whose income is BELOW THE POVERTY LEVEL lack telephone service.

      The correct statistic from your cite is 6.1% of all American households lack telephone service in their home. Also, you can hardly compare these Americans, who likely are at least NEAR a phone due to neighbors, pay phones, etc., to the poor people who live in Chinese and African villages and may not be within MILES of a phone.

  • and I wonder what percentage of those actually know anything about how the net works. Whilst I am pleased to see that more and people have access to a huge ammount of information, I am slightly saddened at the destruction of the old times at the hands of AOLers and Jeff K. Talkalikes.
  • by NathanBFH (558218) on Thursday March 07, 2002 @02:43PM (#3125922)
    500 million people certainly is a lot, and the industry as a whole has quite a bit to brag about (that much growth in only 10 years is phenominal.) However, there are a lot of the things the industry should be ashamed of, too. Usability seems to have come a long way in the last few years, but the best thing to ever happen to personal computing in terms of usability, the introduction of the GUI-based PC to the masses, will be the celebrating it's 20th birthday in 2004. 20 years and there is still a market for 400 page manuals on How To Use Microsoft Windows selling in Barnes and Nobles. How many 400 page manuals do you see selling on how to operate your microwave or your alarm clock? Your TV? How about how to send snail mail or take/develop photos? Sure PC's are complicated machines, sure the PC can do a lot more than a microwave... but does Jane Doe Grandma care? Not really, she just wants to see pictures of her grandchildren on that live hundreds miles of away, and she wants them on Christmas morning as they open their gifts. How likely is she to spend hours trying to learn how to buy a computer, plug in the 7 different wires, figure out how to dial up to a service provider, learn how to launch and use her email client, and load up the attached pictures in her photo-editing software. Not likely. It's not that she or the billions of other people on this planet that are not connected aren't capable of learning, it's that it's just not worth it to them. Face it: using a PC takes a time investment of several hours _just_ to do basic tasks, and all these people want to do is send email/pictures/video to their families, maybe read the news, and be done with it. What other home appliance (since that's what the PC is and should be to these people) have you seen that takes 2 minutes to boot up? How about that you have to push 30+ buttons to operate (how many keyboard presses & mouse clicks does it take to do what Jane Doe Grandma wants?). This all sounds pretty trivial to us geeks because we're used to pressing THOUSANDS of buttons a day to get what we want done, but we are a minority. To the 5.5 billion other people on this planet: it just seems too complicated. Have there been attempts at bridging the gap between layman and machine? Of course, but most have failed miserably. Email appliances were clunky, ugly, and still unbelievably hard to use. Windows XP still has the same complicated GUI that has been around for more 7 years (just with bigger, brighter, more obxnoxious buttons). Does it look easier? Sure, I guess. Still takes hundreds of mouse clicks to read email/news. My TV takes three to get CNN.
    • "using a PC takes a time investment of several hours _just_ to do basic tasks"

      "Still takes hundreds of mouse clicks to read email/news"

      What kind of operating system are you using? At work, I develop (via cygwin, no less) on an NT box; at home I only run linux. With my work system, it takes three clicks to check my mail - a doubleclick to open my browser, and one more (which isn't mandatory) to confirm my username and password. On my linux box, it takes one click to open mozilla. That's it. Neither of these tasks take more than 20 seconds.

      To address a few other scattered claims: my computer boots in 35 seconds, not 2 minutes. I do not press "buttons", although I occasionally click to open a menu. For the 5.5 billion people on the planet who to whom "it just seems too complicated" (which I doubt), the television industry is perfectly happy to turn you into a passive recepient of crap. No, stay there - we'll let you know when you should move.

      You do raise an interesting point on a more abstract level, however. Should we (as computer users) drive the market towards a nearly idiotic level of "useability"? I think not. Your grandmother doesn't *need* to know how to use her operating system with the acuity and depth presented in those 400+ page tomes in your local McBookstore. She's fine with the glossy book that came in the Compaq box.

      See, computers are fundamentally different from your toaster or your television. They let you *create* things - via code, image manipulation, sound editing, etc. Each of this these involves a bit of a time commitment and some learning, but they reap rewards for that. A decent analogy is higher education: would you claim that the "hundreds" of books you average college student reads are entirely too many, and that education should be dumbed down for the "layman"?

      Computers are a tool. They might have shiny Widgets to play with, but they are still tools - and what you get out of them will be proportional to what you put in. Attempts to make this an uneven relationship (ie, you get out 10x what you put in) will fail. As Einstein (almost) wrote, "simply everything as much as possible, but no more."
      • You bring up some very interesting rebuttels to my post, and I thank you for your feedback. I'll let you know that I agree with almost all of your points (that computers should not be dumbed down for the layman). However, that is not exactly what I meant to imply. Computers will always have their place. You can turn my PC into an appliance over my dead body! What I'm suggesting is that if there was a way to provide simple services such as email (in text/voice/video form) that everyone would benefit. A breed of device seperate from a typical PC that anyone can use.

        On the point of mouse clicks/keyboard presses:
        If you wanted to bring simple webservices like email to a person that's never used a computer before you would probably sign them up for a free service such as hotmail or yahoo. I want to diagram how many button presses are involved (this all may sound ridiculous and extremely mellodramatic, but the truth is non-geeky people often get confused by all the steps involved):

        - Double Click Internet Explorer from the standard 5-15 icons that are on the desktop. Keep in mind that the Internet Explorer icon is about 1/100th the size of the entire desktop, and a non-tech user can often get lost in the many icons present.
        [ 2 clicks ]

        - Click in the address bar (which is among 20 other buttons) and type in the (archaic) web address http://www.hotmail.com.
        [1 click, 22 key presses]

        - In the sign in box type your user name (again, sometimes lost in all the buttons on the screen. Sounds ridiculous, but I've seen users have trouble finding it)
        [1 click, ~8 key presses ]

        - Same for the password
        [1 click, ~8 key presses ]

        - Sign In Button
        [1 click]

        Now you are provided with a user interface (the website) inside of a user interface (the browser) inside of _another_ user interface (the OS). When I sign in to my Yahoo! account, there are no less than 50 links on the page. The browser has another 20 buttons, and the OS has a task bar with who knows what in the tray, a min/max/close button, ect. It's a kalidescopic nightmare for the untrained user.

        And that's just email.

        Granted it gets easier with time, granted we all had to learn it, but it seems like nothing has changed in the last 20 years. It feels like we have made very little ground. And it seems like an incomprehensible mess to a first time user. Now how many key presses does it take to read each message? Which button out of the 50 available does what I want? You mean that small (16x16 pixel) button? The one next to the other 12 buttons that's below the big bar of other buttons and next to the message that says my computer "Isn't optimized for the Internet"? Couldn't this confusion be halved/quarted/_almost_ totally eliminated?

        Past solutions have involved dumbing down the PC. I think that's a terrible idea. Millions of people use PC's with out (many) problems and love the flexibality they provide, including myself. But most don't care about flexability. They don't care that their comptuer can run all the latest applications/OSes. They just want email!

        I'm just throwing some food out. I would love to hear rebuttles/other ideas.

    • I agree with you that the user interface could be made more user friendly... but at the expense of power. This is the trade off.

      Remember the good old pocket calculator? Remember how it used to just add and subtract, multiply and divide. Then it could do square roots, raise to the power... Now they can graph things etc. Problem is that as the number of functions that you want to accomplish increase and the number of variables that you want to change increase, you get ever increasing complexity.

      Imagine if you will a washing machine that also was able to dry clothes, knit sweaters, pop popcorn, and wax the floors of your house. How on earth would you make something with such a diverse set of functions operate with a simple user interface that was intuitive for all users? What if grandma (or little johnny) just needed to have it knit sweaters? Could she learn how? Sure. But it would take some effort.

      It is sad to see that we have become so ingrained with the fast food instant gratification lifestyle in America that we want someone to sell us an appliance (PC) that does exactly what we want without any thinking.

      When I was growing up... I played with Legos, Lincoln Logs, Sticks Rocks -n- String and all sorts of great things. My first computer was a Commodore 64 and I didn't have a disk or tape drive. I turned it on and I programmed on it. Of course that was fairly simple becaues that was the only thing that I COULD do on it so that is what I learned to do on it.

      Perhaps what we need is a way to not think of the PC as the Appliance. Think of the PC as an Appliance Storage Mechanism and each of the Applications as the Appliances. Each program is pretty easy to learn by itself. Once you have one down you can learn the next one... and some of the knowledge transfers.
    • This ia all fine and well but there are tywo problems with your argument. First of all, Microwaves and the other list of small appliances do not perform the myriad of tasks the PC is expected to perform.

      The other problem is getting programmers to actually listen to and implement proper user interfaces. Human Interface Guidelines aren't written for the health of the authors. They are written so developers can build applications which fllow a certain set of rules of consistancy. The HIGs exist, get the pig-headed developers to follow them.
  • The internet doesn't even exist. 'The internet' as we know it is just a program with lots of computerized characters that act the part of 'netizens' for the purposes of interaction and amusement.
  • by univgeek (442857)
    A lot of people here seem to say that the net is needed at each home and that most people will never be able to afford that, so they will never have access to the net.


    What is possible and helpful is community shared internet/information access. After all isn't the internet abut information?


    This is what is happening in the developing countries with cyber-cafes. In Bangladesh, because of the poor phone infrastructure, there are people who operate pay-phones, but with CELL phones because the infrastructure to provide land-lines is simply too expensive but setting up the base stations is cheaper. In India Wireless in Local Loop is picking up as a big concept, due to the low cost of deployment. As one Professor in India said, "The developed nations do not need to reduce the costs any further for the basics, 40$ per phone line is fine for them, but we need to use the latest technology, not to increase the features but to reduce the cost." And this needs to be done by the developing countries as no company in the deveoped world will take this on (low profits).


    But till this happens, the developing world will be a part of the digital have-nots, and there will be a digital divide.

  • by Perdo (151843) on Thursday March 07, 2002 @03:34PM (#3126345) Homepage Journal
    Take note that untill recently, having the internet meant having a piece of copper strung to your house. Because most countries have not had the massive copper build out that is seen in the united states, getting internet was not possible. that is what makes some of the wireless technologies so interesting. For example, Kuwait has phone lines to only 15% of residences. Every one has a mobile phone though. To a person in kuwait, placing a call means calling a person, not a location. Internet cafes are extremely popular, satisfying demand for an internet that has no infrastructure. Which is what makes 802.11b/a and other wireless methods so interesting. I am guessing that there are as many people in the world, with dollars to spend, that the providers of wireless internet access will call customers, as currently use copper to access the internet. However, untill it is cheaper to set up a wireless internet connection than buy a similar length of copper, acceptance will obviously be poor.
  • by Petersko (564140) on Thursday March 07, 2002 @03:49PM (#3126470)
    1. Pornography

    2. Gambling

    3. Trolling for fights without fear of getting punched

    4. Pornography

    5. Easy chatting and email with friends

    6. Endless time-wasting opportunity

    7. Pornography

    8. Groups for almost any conceivable interest

    9. Pornography

    What's not to like?
  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Thursday March 07, 2002 @04:17PM (#3126651) Homepage
    If you're searching for the most cost-effective form of promotion you can find... Your Search Is Over - you've FOUND it - Investment is MINIMAL and Potential return is INCREDIBLE! Blast your ad to over 500 Million pre-opted-in indivdually targeted Internet users who are JUST WAITING to hear about YOUR product or service!

  • by jpatokal (96361) on Thursday March 07, 2002 @05:49PM (#3127228) Homepage
    Many people seem to be missing the important little point that the 498 million figure refers to people who can access the Net at home. There are quite a few people who have Internet access at work or at school but not at home, and even more people who can (and do?) access the Internet at cafes, libraries, etc. Getting exact figures for these is probably impossible, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if the total of all of these was well over a billion.

    Cheers,
    -j.

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