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The Internet

Pew Internet Project Study on Internet Non-Users 229

cheezitmike writes "The Pew Internet and American Life Project released a new study on the digital divide and the declining growth of the Internet: "Pew Internet Project tracking data show a flattening of the overall growth of the Internet population since late 2001. Internet penetration rates have hovered between 57% and 61% since October 2001, rather than pursuing the steady climb that they had showed in prior years." You can also just read their short summary of findings or stories about the study in The Washington Post and The New York Times (free reg.)."
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Pew Internet Project Study on Internet Non-Users

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  • by Tokerat ( 150341 ) on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:17PM (#5752015) Journal

    ...there is a finite amount of pr0n out there, after all.
  • by confused philosopher ( 666299 ) on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:18PM (#5752019) Homepage Journal
    You mean there are people who don't strive to be geeks?

    This is indeed confusing.
  • 57%... (Score:2, Funny)

    by SunPin ( 596554 )
    That's still a pretty good climb... the Internet is maturing. Non-users will be assimilated.
    • I think that you'll find that, unless you give computers away, the people who don't have them won't accept them, and if you did give them awa, it had better work right out of the box, forever and be immediately easy to use for people who have trouble programming their VCRs.

      In short, growth will stop when we hit the luddites and the elderly.
      • Re:57%... (Score:5, Funny)

        by deadsaijinx* ( 637410 ) <animemeken@hotmail.com> on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:24PM (#5752085) Homepage
        thats okay. Those people will eventually die off (probably sooner rather than later).

        Almost every young person uses a computer at least once a week (even if it is just to right a school paper or something)

        That is evolution at its best *tear forms*

      • Re:57%... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by drgroove ( 631550 ) on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:39PM (#5752229)
        In short, growth will stop when we hit the luddites and the elderly.

        First of all, segregating the population in any way by age is discriminatory, and therefore ignorant.
        Secondly, did you bother to read the Washington Post article? This highlights a 22 year old Comms major who lives w/ his 60-something grandmother. Guess which one is the prolific web user? The grandmother. The elderly are not necessarily slow to adopt technology which meets their needs - keep in mind that the generation that we describe as the 'elderly' invented the computer, television, modern radio, etc etc. How can this generation be slow to adopt technologies which they helped bring into existence?

        My own 75-yr old grandmother is one of the most web-savvy people I know. She communicates with all of her children & grandchildren via email & chat (she's on AIM, ICQ, and MSN chats, btw); does the majority of her shopping online (though she never did like to drive); and gets her news, etc online as well. In addition to that, she's on a Windows machine that she administers - i.e., she installs new versions of Windows, applications, configures her own web access, etc.
        • Re:57%... (Score:2, Informative)

          Anecdotal evidence means nothing. Your grandmother aside, there is a huge tech gap between those over 50 and those under 50. 71% of the people who said they would never go online are over 50. Only 6% of 18-29 year olds said they will never go online.

          I would also point out that 99.999% of the elderly did not invent the computer, television, modern radio, etc. The 0.001% that did I am pretty sure are either dead or online.
        • Re:57%... (Score:3, Funny)

          by maxpublic ( 450413 )
          Anecdotal 'evidence' isn't worth the toilet paper you wiped your ass with to collect it in the first place.

          I'd like to see some real statistics here, defined by age. After working with the local school district and university for several years my own anecdotal (and therefore entirely useless) observations were as follows:

          kids: computer use is in their DNA. Near 100% assimilation.

          college punks: what better tool for dick-measuring and acting like immature assholes could possibly exist? Near-total assi
          • Anecdotal 'evidence' isn't worth the toilet paper you wiped your ass with to collect it in the first place.
            Any yet, anecdotal evidence is all you provide, later on in your own post.

            kids: computer use is in their DNA. Near 100% assimilation.
            This is patently false. How can you ascribe a 100% internet usage rate to a generation which does not uniformly have access to the internet?

            college punks: what better tool for dick-measuring and acting like immature assholes could possibly exist? Near-total assi
            • Any yet, anecdotal evidence is all you provide, later on in your own post.

              Well no shit, Sherlock. Apparently reading comprehension is something you failed in school. Note that I said my own anecdotal evidence was entirely useless. Try wrapping your tiny brain around that fact, and everything that follows is noted as purest speculation based on personal observation - completely irrelevant from a scientific standpoint.

              Moron.

              Although after reading the study it seems I'm rather on-target. Kids are by fa
        • and the question that's on most of slashdot's reader's minds is....

          "so, uh... is she single?" :)
        • First of all, segregating the population in any way by age is discriminatory, and therefore ignorant.

          No, it's a demographic with a blazingly obvious trend.

          Would you like the blonde or the brunette? --Oh, sorry, that's a question that demands you to be discriminatory--how dare I force you to discern something! You must be ignorant. --C'mon that line of thinking makes all statistical analysis somehow emotional, which is inconceivably ridiculous.

          The elderly are not necessarily slow to adopt technology

      • In short, growth will stop when we hit the luddites and the elderly.

        I partly disagree.

        One of the fastest growing segments of the PC market a couple of years ago was sales to retirees. Gramps and Grannies were buying computers to use email to stay in touch with families and friends. And to explore armchair hobbies like geneology, model railroading, recipe exchange clubs, fantasy baseball teams, and the like. I don't think that's changed.

        About the luddites, you have a point. The antitechies will always

  • by Mr.Gibs ( 637393 ) on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:19PM (#5752028)
    that show the guy reaching the end of the internet are true after all?!?!
  • "Well-to-do families are more likely to have access than less well-off families." Who would have guessed....
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:45PM (#5752284)
      > "Well-to-do families are more likely to have access than less well-off families." Who would have guessed....

      Yeah. Next thing you know, they'll be saying that less well-off families who put $200 into a computer and $20/month into dialup (as opposed to $200 on Air Jordans and $20/month on ESPN), tend to become better off.

      I was the first one in my family to go to University. I make twice what my parents make at half their age.

      No, my family wasn't dirt-poor, but we weren't rich. I could never have gone to Harvard. It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I found out that my folks had to take out a frickin' loan to get me that Apple ][ that I begged for, and that got me started.

      As a result of high school hacking with that box, I never lacked for summer jobs during my college years, and I was able to graduate debt-free and land myself a good job that started off a great career.

      Over 20-odd years, my folks' original investment has cranked out the kind of ROI that investment managers have wet dreams about. (I wrote that has hyperbole, but then worked it out based on the cost of the machine and the income my career has generated. My parents' ROI cleans Warren Buffet's clock)

      • Be glad of this... I have seen families where the parents were not high-educated and where they didn't see the *use* of their kids to go to College/University. So be glad, very, very glad that they made that sacrifice for you.
        No, it is not my case, both of my parents did go to University... Above that, I'm a spoiled brat. Do you know any kid that actually got a blank cheque from his dad to build a new "kick-ass" computer (that back in 1995)? Well that kid was me...
  • by ralico ( 446325 )
    So thats 42% of Americans who will not be /. readers.
  • Well duh.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dynedain ( 141758 ) <slashdot2@anthonyLIONmclin.com minus cat> on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:23PM (#5752066) Homepage
    I could have told them this. The bubble burst. Because of that, marketing budgets have plummeted. Hence, less companies are running less ads about stuff online. Therefore, people who aren't already online aren't seeing as many commercials for online services, and don't feel 'left out' of the fad. And most people who aren't already online, probably won't have their lives enriched all that much by going online (blasphemous words around here, I know).
    • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

      by robbyjo ( 315601 ) on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:38PM (#5752222) Homepage

      The study shows:

      • Net Evaders: 20% (non-Internet users live with someone who uses the Internet from home).
      • Net Dropouts: 17% of non-Internet users were once users. (Most of them are dropouts because of technical problems)
      • Truly Disconnected: Some 24% of Americans are truly offline
      • Most non-users live physically and socially close to the Internet
      • 60% of non-users know of a place in their community where Internet access is publicly available, while 76% of Internet users know of public access site.
      • Younger Americans are much more wired than older Americans. Well-to-do Americans are more wired that less well-off Americans, and the employed are far more wired than the unemployed.
      • Some 56% of non-Internet users do not think they will ever go online. These people are generally the poorer, older segment of the not-online population, and are more likely to be white, female, retired and living in rural areas.
      • And so forth...

      Not the bubble burst per se. Apparently, lots of social factors come into play, which I think were not into the equation on the prediction years ago.

      • Re:RTFA (Score:3, Funny)

        by mattkime ( 8466 )

        Some 56% of non-Internet users do not think they will ever go online. These people are generally the poorer, older segment of the not-online population, and are more likely to be white, female, retired and living in rural areas.



        Obviously this is the target market slashdot needs to cater to in order to meet its own growth requirements.

        Site redesign and content change to follow.
  • Correlation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ravenscall ( 12240 ) on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:24PM (#5752070)
    I find it interesting that this rate directly coincides with the American Economy decicing to take a nice little plunge in the toilet from around the same time.

    Most people view the internet, or even a computer, as a luxury item, and therefore, the monthly access fee will be one of the first things cut when times get tight.

    As for lack of new growth, for most people, a PC is still a multi hundred dollar investment, and if you are not sure you are not going to have a job next week, most people will not make the investment.
  • Living with geeks? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BusErrorBob ( 660209 )
    I thought it was interesting that some of the people who stated their reasons for not going online said that it was because their systems were being monopolized by someone else in their household. Kinda reminds me of when I was a teenager and when I was hogging up the machine.
    ...And then there's that guy who said his wife would talk to other guys.
    Kinda reminds me of some other things too...
    I remember in the early days how there were all kinds of news shows about all the shady characters on the inter
    • You say that like in the Christian media God approves of good old American 100% dead tree and cellulite pr0n
    • There were even a few "end of the world" type programs that connected the Internet to general decadence. God, according to Christian media, didn't approve of internet pr0n.

      I missed this. Can you be more specific? What shows? And where do you live that the media is Christian? Are you a Canadian? Or are you referring to local shows/media?
  • At the rate of growth that existed in the late '90s, I expected 2,718,281% of the population of the United States to be Internet users by now. What happened?
  • Although fixed wireless solutions are stepping in to add competition to the telco/cableco monopolies, computer usefulness and internet usefulness are being stymied by the lack of cheap, permanenet, and reasonably fast internet connectivity. Not everyone is willing to pay $50/mo for a good net connection. Dialup doesn't cut it.

    That's why I've worked my tail off the last year to deploy a good wireless solution. :) Not 802.11x FYI. I'd tip my hand, but I don't want more competition...yet. ;)
  • Moore's Law (Score:3, Funny)

    by Moschaef ( 624770 ) on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:24PM (#5752081)
    I thought the number of people on the internet doubled every 2 years. In 2020 ther will be the equivalent of 1,024 China's on the internet...
    • For a while I guess that was true, hence this study. But you will eventually reach a saturation point. As the population grows the percentage who use the internet will remain fairly constant. There are people after all who don't like TV and refuse to use them.
  • by KillboyPHD ( 82897 ) on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:24PM (#5752083) Homepage
    For no reg, move every sed!

    sed -e "s/www/archive/"

    http://archive.nytimes.com/2003/04/17/technology /c ircuits/17shun.html

  • by binaryDigit ( 557647 ) on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:25PM (#5752098)
    Wait a minute, sometimes they say "have access to the internet" and other times they say "use the internet". With libraries offering free internet _access_, pretty much anyone who is willing to get off their butts and head over to a public library can have the access. Also, how about 18 and under? A poor kid from the ghetto may not have the latest PowerMac at home, but their school probably has access, and therefore the kid. I think they need to be a bit more clear here.

    Plus there is the obvious breakdown by occupation. Since blacks represent a very small percentage of IT workers (IT in the broader sense) vs population, but IT workers obviously comprise a very high percentage of those with "internet access", the numbers are going to be skewed.
    • by FunkyRat ( 36011 ) <funkyrat&gmail,com> on Thursday April 17, 2003 @01:38PM (#5752720) Journal
      With libraries offering free internet _access_, pretty much anyone who is willing to get off their butts and head over to a public library can have the access.

      In rural areas this is often not possible. Rural citizens can live man miles from a public library. Furthermore, cable access is almost always non-existent in rural areas. Yes, there is usually dial-up, but because the quality of the phone lines in rural areas are usually no the greatest, it's easy to find oneself stuck at 28Kb/s or less on a dial-up connection.

      However, once again you need that computer. Many people are not aware of the $300 machines, because, last I knew anyway, Walmart was only selling them online. Finally, $300 + $10-$20 monthly is usually a lot of money for a rural family. You make mention of the poor kid from the ghetto, but rural poverty is rampant and perhaps more common than urban poverty.

    • school (Score:2, Insightful)

      am i the only one here who went to both an elementary AND a highschool where they would not allow students on the computer unless you were with a class and a teacher at the time? my highschool bought a multi-million dollar lab, and then just let it collect dust

      speaking of labs that collect dust, the University of Regina media lab [a collection of very, very nice mac's]is 80-90% unused at least...they just sort of sit behind a glass wall and collect dust.

      and of course, that and isp's i've found charge
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:26PM (#5752109)
    You can get a serviceable PC system for $300 and online for $10/month. Any family that doesn't have Internet access either has no interest in it, or is in such dire straits that they have far greater problems than being on the wrong side of the "digital divide".
    • 1. There's free access available in many many areas at public libraries and schools, and much of it is not taken advantage of.

      2. The same people who "can't afford" a computer can somehow afford all sorts of other equally or more expensive things. Cable TV ($40/mo * 12 mo = $480/yr) is one that comes to mind. Expensive car modifications (stereo systems, etc.) are another.
  • by Fritz Benwalla ( 539483 ) <randomregs@gQUOTEmail.com minus punct> on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:30PM (#5752142)

    Interesting how this seems to have topped out at very nearly the same penetration rates as cable television.

    In cable, everyone thought that penetration was highly dependent on homes passed, that it would be a fixed percentage of how many homes could actually get wired. But although the homes passed numbers are quite high now, ultimately cable's speediest growth seems to have topped out at about 60 percent.

    Same with Internet - some form of access is fairly ubiqitous now, but actual usage is topping out.

    I wonder if this points to a class of telecommunications non-consumers - a certain group that simply doesn't consume or appreciate communications media enough to spend additional disposable income beyond what is freely available.

    ---

    • I wonder whether this could be correlated with consumer patterns in other paid communication media, such as magazine or newspaper subscriptions.

      That maybe there is just a class of people who keep their information sphere small, and that this study shows the net isn't immune.

      • It's probably compromised of people that:

        - Don't know how to operate a computor and never will. Old folks who think they are too old too learn, mental handicapped porple etc.

        - People who are too poor to afford a computer.

        - Those that don't have it for religion, traditional or ethics reasons.

        - People who may not own their own computor - like criminals etc.

        - However the largest part is probably people who are too poor to afford a computer.

    • Interesting observation. Particularly since I fall on both sides of it. At home, I have a high-speed DSL connection, but I don't have Cable TV. For me, its not a matter of cost. I can easily afford it. But the last time I moved, I didn't bother having Cable installed because I didn't see the point. There was nothing on Cable that I really valued. On the otherhand, I have religiously upgraded my Internet connections over the years, because I do see the value. If I want to relax on the sofa, I'd rat
    • Interesting comment. This ties right in with the observation in the study that internet use correlates with newspaper reading, TV use, and other sources of information and/or entertainment.

      And likewise, the study says that cell phone and PDA use also correlates with internet use.

      I think what we're seeing is the start of a new trend where some people decide to drastically limit the time and money they spend for being flooded with (dis)/(non)information.

      Maybe there is life beyond ubiquitous connectivity?

      -
    • Probably has a LOT more to do with consolidation of access providers - same as Cable. Since we have all these monopolies controlling (decent) access, (decent access= DSL/Cable/ISDN, etc.) we don't have any competition, and therefore prices are roughly DOUBLE of what people in Japan and Canada get DSL access for.

      DUH!
  • Net Evaders: 20% of non-Internet users live with someone who uses the Internet from home. Some of these self-described non-users exploit workarounds that allow them to "use" the Internet by having email sent and received by online family members and by having others in their home do online searches for information they want.

    Sounds like my old man... every so often, someone sends him an email, and I have to print out a copy and fax it to him from my office. I've tried to convince him to buy a computer b

  • by NetDanzr ( 619387 ) on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:33PM (#5752161)
    It may be strange that I'm replying to a post on Slashdot and still calling myself a "Net Evader". However, in a sense, I am. I have no Internet connection at home, nor do I want to have one. The 10-12 hours at work of Internet are enough for me.

    There's a whole number of reasons why I decided to be a Net Evader, some of them mentioned in the articles:

    • I am very concerned about my privacy. I'm not a computer guru, and the farthest I can go is to install ZoneAlarm on my PC. With all those privacy violations taking place, I prefer to keep my PC disconnected from the Net.
    • I am afraid that Internet would take over my life. I am very happy with sitting at the fireplace in the evenings and reading a book. Or cooking a big lunch on Saturdays. Or hiking. Or a number of other activities. Internet is just too tempting to have around.
    • Take a closer look at your mail for the next few weeks. I can bet you that 95% of your mail consists of catalogs, spam and bills. The remaining 5% was addressed to someone else. Do you know how uplifting it is to receive a hand-written letter? Several pages of writing, enough to make the post stamp and trip to the post office worth it? Try it sometimes...
    • I'm not accessible. Having no e-mail at home and no cell phone, I can actually rest over the weekends, because people who need my help can't contact me. Actually, let me rephrase that: only people who are desperate will be able to contact me. Those who are lazy to do something will find it difficult enough to contact me to actually try a solution themselves.
    • Well you are not much of a Net Evader. You just don't care for it. You still have internet access at work and you probably have an e-mail address. So you have the covience of the web most of the week. Even that story about the guy how checks his e-mail once a week and orders vitamins online. I dont see him as much of a net avoider. You just dont feel the need to use the the Net as a means of intertainment.
      You could say I am a telephone evader because I would much rather e-mail or im a person saying meet
  • Hardley Astounding (Score:4, Insightful)

    by n-baxley ( 103975 ) <nateNO@SPAMbaxleys.org> on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:35PM (#5752180) Homepage Journal
    This is hardley astounding. I hope it comes as no shock to anyone that not everyone can afford a computer and a monthly ISP charge. It should also come as no shock that this appears to have plataued at the same time as home computer sales. Amazingly, there was a limit to the number of households that could afford a computer and the fact that the computer makers and the ISPs did not anticipate it seems to be a great shock to everyone. The reason that the Internet penentration and computer sales have slowed is because there is a limit to the market. Big deal.
    • And there are people who will not want to have anything to do with the Internet. My grandmother will NEVER get on the Internet. It doesn't matter if they give appliances and service away; she will never use it. Why? She's retired. She has her social circle and her volunteer work. She likes hand-writing her letters, putting a stamp on them, and sending something TANGIBLE to someone.

      It's not always a matter of money. Some people just have lives outside of computers.

      ---

      • My Grandma used to be like that too, but one of my aunts finally bought her a computer a hooked her up with Juno. Before too long she was sending out Emails to everybody with the stuff she used to write up by hand. Now handwritten letters are reserved for Christmas cards and the like. I think she likes how people actually respond now (when was the last time you hand wrote a letter?) and the whole family keeps in touch a lot more. I have a life outside of computers, but E-mail is just a lot more efficent
    • Most people have free access to the internet through their local public library. The exceptions are some people in very rural areas, but they make up quite a small percentage of the total US population (certainly far less than the 40% non-internet users quoted here). It seems a lot of people simply aren't interested in using the internet, despite free access.

      And even if it weren't for that, count the number of people who "can't afford" a computer, but someone "can afford" to pay over $400/yr for cable te
  • I'm afraid that once I get on, I will come up only to eat," she said. "I read these scare stories about people who once they get on can't get off."

    And we're cutting funding for public education??
  • The rest are using AOL
  • by elwoodblues16 ( 666185 ) on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:41PM (#5752251)
    This is not about shrinking marketing budgets.

    This is not about a weak economy.

    This is about saturation, pure and simple.

    The people out there with a predisposition for getting online have, for the most part, already done so. They've had the better part of a decade to do so.

    In order to appeal to that last 40% or so, the internet will simply have to continue growing. Not in users, but in uses. Especially uses that are accesible by neophytes (and, more importantly, easily explainable to neophytes).

  • by Limburgher ( 523006 ) on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:45PM (#5752281) Homepage Journal
    Any Non-Internet users on /.? How do you feel about the new Pew study? Post your responses below.
  • by dprice ( 74762 ) <daprice@ p o b ox.com> on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:45PM (#5752283) Homepage

    Reading through the survey results, I see nothing surprising about why people aren't on the internet. The population of people who have the computer skills and the financial resources to access the internet is saturating, and those who are left have the computer barrier to cross.

    My mom would probably not be on the internet today if I hadn't set up her computer for her. Originally she had a MS Windows based PC, and knew just enough to open the browser and email applications. Anything else was way to difficult for her. She later switched to a new iMac which is a little easier for her to use, but it's still complex enough to baffle her. My sister, who is otherwise quite intelligent, has problems using a computer, and currently is not on the internet at all. Partly it is the financial barrier of buying a computer, and partly it is the lack of knowledge on how to set up a cheaper used computer.

    Simpler 'appliances' like WebTV and Audrey attempt to make the barrier lower through lower prices and better ease of use, but they have not really been well accepted. I think the appliance concept could be the solution for more people accessing the internet, but I've been underwhelmed with the implementations and service costs so far.

    • Many libraries make a brower the default app on the screen (even after powerup). So all you basically need to know is how to browse.
    • I think the biggest reason my mom hasn't gone online is that she never learned to type. She grew up at a time when some women intentionally didn't learn to type because they thought they would be stuck in secretarial jobs. She is a college graduate and could certainly take a typing class if she wanted to, but she is also kind of a Luddite. I wonder if the definition of illiteracy has expanded to include not being able to type.
  • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:53PM (#5752344)
    Non-users say they feel no need or desire to use the Internet, or that going online is not a good use of their time. This nonchalance and resistance is often related to a general misconception of what the Web and email have to offer. In other cases, reluctance is connected to specific obstacles, fears, or previous online experiences.

    I found the above portion of the article to be a little disturbing. It implies that everyone should be using the internet, yet some people resist it because of unfounded reasoning.

    How about the fact that it's OK if you don't want to use the internet? If over half of the people not on the net now don't want it, I don't see what the big deal is. It isn't for everyone, and maybe shouldn't be. TV isn't for everyone, cellphones aren't for everyone. So what?

    • Absolutely true. There is no "digtal divide" -- that whole concept is based on the false and absurd notion that computer use and the Internet absolutely *MUST* be a major part of everyone's life.

      A few years ago I read a prediction that Internet use would peak at around 65% and for various reasons not go any higher. It would appear that this predicition was fairly accurate.
      • Digital divide (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Yanna ( 188771 )
        There is a Digital divide but it is not related to those people who do not want to be on the net, but to those who cannot afford to be online.

        The worrisome digital divide is the one that affects young people and children from poor areas. Those are very likely to be in a disadvantageous position when looking for jobs in the future.

        On the other hand, there are people who make a choice to stay off line, well, it's their choice...
        • The worrisome digital divide is the one that affects young people and children from poor areas. Those are very likely to be in a disadvantageous position when looking for jobs in the future.

          While I agree with this, it also assumes that most jobs in the future will involve the internet. Someone coming from a poor area will most likely have a lower level of education. THAT is a much bigger hurdle in getting a job than not having internet access, IMO. Having internet access can aid in education, but it wo

    • Telephones seem to be, more or less, for everyone. No telephone (whether it be landline or mobile) and people just won't be able to contact you very easily. The argument is that the internet is more than just a biiiig reference; it's a communications medium. One that has the potential to take over the function of the phone, and enhance it, and therefore, it may eventually be for everyone.
  • by st0rmshad0w ( 412661 ) on Thursday April 17, 2003 @12:58PM (#5752399)
    "The Internet? Is that thing still around?" /Homer
  • by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Thursday April 17, 2003 @01:04PM (#5752445) Homepage Journal
    Net avoiders are:

    20% moochers who make friends and family use the net for them. Reminds me of my friend's jewish roommate who made us open the door for him on Yom Kippur.

    17% idiots who gave up on complicated concepts like "back arrows" and "typing." Also people who balked at the expense of fixing computers and dealing with ISP bullshit (heh they should have gone webslum [webslum.net])

    24% true luddites, or people who have better stuff to do, depending on how you look at it.

    It also says that the majority of these folks (56%) don't plan on going online, that they don't have the social or technical skills to do so, and so I say good riddance. Doesn't look like our community is missing out on anything.

    One thing that bothers me is their "special look" at disabled users. They never define "diabled," and I think they are defining a disabled person on the internet as somebody whose disability directly effects internet use (basically, the blind and those with difficulty using the mouse). Therefore, it's kind of self fulfilling...if it's hard and expensive to do something, you're not going to do it. I think if you look at the numbers of people with learning diabilities, physical impairments and debilitating illnesses who go online, you might discover the exact opposite -- that the buffering effect of online chat makes it easier to communicate, that the ability to move at one's own pace makes it easier to concentrate and comprehend. Shit, my first CS teacher was wheelchair bound with Lou Gherig's disease. Computers turned a crippling illness into a chance for him to make good money and a real impact on kids.
  • by bheerssen ( 534014 ) <bheerssen@gmail.com> on Thursday April 17, 2003 @01:05PM (#5752459)
    It should be noted that this study only polled American internet users. The internet presence of many other countries is small, but rising. Furthermore, there do not seem to be any empiricle measurements of the kind network traffic analisis could provide. The study also does not take into account non-personal uses of the internet. Things like spiders and robots, mirroring software, etc. This study should not be taken to mean that the internet usage in general is leveling off. Just direct usage of it by the general public in America.

    Even their conclusions may not be entirely accurate. Although we may be reaching a certain saturation point, as the article suggests, that saturation point is actually a moving target. Saturation levels are determined by many things, including access to the technology, the current state of the art, and basic literacy rates. Improvements in any of these could drive the theoretical saturation point higher, allowing for more growth in usage levels.

    However, the study is a good one on it's merits and has many interesting things to say within it's limitations. For instance, the summary states: ...and 27% (of American non-interenet users) say they believe the Internet is too complicated and hard to understand. What with 23% of Americans functionally illiterate, this only to be expected. Although I would have expected expected the number to be somewhat higher, I guess there are quite a few things people of limited literacy skills could accomplish on the internet. Playing games and checking sports scores come to mind.
  • ...because it's huge.
    However, this is what struck me most: " The National Adult Literacy Survey by the U.S. Department of Education estimates that up to 23% of the U.S. population struggles enough with literacy that they have difficulty completing everyday tasks ". Yes, that is not about the internet (and might be offtopic), it's about *literacy*. That's nearly one quarter of the population! That means if I meet 20 people, 5 of them will not be able to read or write correctly.

    I find that absolutely scary for a civilised nation.


    • That means if I meet 20 people, 5 of them will not be able to read or write correctly.

      I find that absolutely scary for a civilised nation.


      Yeah, and you know what's even scarier? Our "cut taxes, but spend more" Bush Administration has managed to see to it that education spending is plummeting around the nation. Oops... a correction: public education spending is plumeting. Private schools are doing better than ever. Lesson, get rich; 'cause being poor is getting harder live with.

      We got the war on drugs,
      • And yet oddly enough in late 18th-century England, with no socialist schooling, the literacy rate was higher than in modern England or America. No-one has a right to schooling, but rather the right to go to school should he choose to.
    • scripsit jawtheshark:

      That means if I meet 20 people, 5 of them will not be able to read or write correctly.

      You know, if 15 of 20 undergraduate papers I had to grade contained no orthographic, grammatic, or stylistic errors, I would be a very happy man...

    • I'm disappointed that the Pew study didn't ask questions like "Do you know how to type" or "How many books have you read in the last year", or "Do you subscribe to a newspaper"? They did count "media users", but that included TV. People who aren't into reading won't find the World Wide Web very interesting.

      It's not fundamental that the Internet has to require reading. The Web does, but that's an application layer. There are other application layers. Multiplayer games with voice chat could be constructed

    • I realize that I'm in an atypically well-to-do area (Boston), but seriously folks, 23%? That seems ridiculously high. If 60 million people in this country that can't read, I think I would meet more than a handful per year.
    • ... up to 23% of the U.S. population struggles enough with literacy that they have difficulty completing everyday tasks.

      That accounts for at least half of the internet "non-users".

      That means if I meet 20 people, 5 of them will not be able to read or write correctly.

      Not exactly. For the most part your friends, co-workers, and family will share a similar educational level.

  • by Cthefuture ( 665326 ) on Thursday April 17, 2003 @01:22PM (#5752599)
    Anyone have data on the growth of TV over the years? Did it boom, then flatten out, or what?

    I'd be curious to see how the TV versus Internet acceptance rates look.

    It makes sense that things flatten out. Prices for Internet access are about the same as they were 5+ years ago. The people who can afford it will be more likely to get it. Just like TV's were expensive for a long time, but have now gotten cheap enough that almost everyone has one in their home (even the poor). If Internet and computer hardware rates were much less then I think we'd see more market penetration.
  • Am I the only one that feels the decline in growth is a direct result of the commericalization of the net?

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