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The Internet

Generation-long Internet Research Project Funded 45

Wonko42 writes "Microsoft and AOL have put aside their bickering for a moment and teamed up to fund a research project that will examine the effects of the Internet on modern society. " The results of will be quite interesting-they are looking at not only the effects of usage, but also non-usage, which is equally important, IMHO. It looks like UCLA will be the key institution, and the time span is "at least a generation".
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Microsoft and AOL fund Internet research project

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  • I think this may be true for campus support, but not research. I'm a former UCLA student and a former student of Prof. Cole's. His yearly violence study hasn't been biased towards any network. (It's been pretty damning of all of them.)

    Also, I'm a former Computer Store employee and the fact that we were the fifth biggest campus seller of Macs (Stanford, Harvard, UT Austin and somebody else.) seems to tell me that there's quite a lot of Microsoft resistance on campus.

    I will agree that the campus has become more in the MS camp and is susceptible to the Big Project that pushes a lot of money towards OAC and the MIC. Heck, UCLA was in IBM's back pocket for years.

    But I don't think that has gotten to the faculty or Prof. Cole in particular.

    Jason "formerly" Untulis
  • Yes, it really is sad when our NT/ASP based Schedule of classes goes down. At least our core servers run AIX and Solaris. And the Computer Science research projects mostly use Linux and FreeBSD.
  • the effect of Microsoft and AOL on the Internet.

    Those two companies, more than any others, have pretty much destroyed it... :-)

    Get your fresh, hot kernels right here []!

  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Tuesday June 08, 1999 @11:09AM (#1859613) Homepage Journal
    This is just the sort of fuzzy study that can be used as "proof" to further socioligical or political agendas. We (as in knowledgable and frequent users of the 'net) need to keep track this group's research to ensure that it is impartial. Consider the hysteria after Littleton, or the long running effort to censor anything that resembles porn. This study could be skewed in ways that could give credibility to all that silliness.

    Of course, I don't understand why this is a big deal. The GVU [] has been running a Web user survey [] for years.
  • A really interesting bit would be the prominence of the Internet amongst 19-25 year olds, the people who were there and able to access it when it all went down. I know that I changed more in college than any other time in my life, and it was at around 17 or so that I started really doing the online stuff. Which lead to programming... which lead to college... which lead to my job. So the explosion of Internet babble at a certain age 'changed my life' (not to be lame).

    A survey conducted amongst younger people will yeild the same results as surveying us about televsion when we were young: we grew up watching too much of it and thats about it.

  • check out that dubious list of sponsors with big bucks vested in their futuristic eyeballs...of course it would be naive to expect otherwise. this research is a wolf dressed in sheeps clothing and although superficially may be of value to the masses [present and future] serves only the marketeers who will utilise it to furhter maximise their profit margins...yes. i bet they'd love to get into our lounge rooms. they must be pissed they missed out in the 40's and 50's. they won't make that mistake again...all those lost margins...

    walt disney...they may as well have spelt out the FBI. even more insidious than the cash motivation has to be the political ramifications....*oooh, it makes them more politically active does it? how can we place control mechanisms on that...* and...*if i place this in the maze which way will the white rat run? let's block that hole shall we?*

    how does it feel to be a guinea pig? guess 2000 people/case studies are about to find out.
  • 2000 random people in the U.S.
    More folks in Italy and Singapore in the 1st year.

    What do you think the chances are that a REAL geek will be in the sample? What do you think the chances are that the geek's results will be discounted as an "outlier."

    Now, if it had been the US, FINLAND and Italy...
  • Damn man, you cant make me laugh this hard at work. People are starting to stare! But aside from the fact that your comment make my day, the general concept of it sounds about right :)
  • Of course, Microsoft and AOL can do whatever they want, it's a free country. But I have to ask myself it this is legitimately for knowledge we are better off knowing, or market analysis. Just the fact that AOL is teaming up with Microsoft on this deal is suspicious by itself. I really doubt if the results of the study will ever be fully released to the public, but unfortunately the article is lacking in details on that area...
  • So what about people that don't have a telephone?
  • Surely that should read "US society". Grr...
  • Why the prominent statement that they're also looking at nonusage? What the heck IS an analysis of internet and computer usage, if it's NOT a comparison between people who do and do not use them?
  • I think he means that the nonsense will be used to abuse. We all pretty much agree that the study is hokey, but what will be the implications of the results?
  • Heh. My guess is that one of them picked up on it first, and the other jumped on the bandwagon. Rather than squabble about it, they've decided it's mutually beneficial to "team up".
  • LOL... This is great.

    And yes you too can work for The Onion... :D
  • I guess it's good to know that this is going on, but there's really not that much actual content in the story.

    I almost ask, "Why post it?"
  • Well I must say that I've lost at least few weeks of productive time to mindless surfing, which is reported as "R&D management" to the work hour system ;) and I know I'm not alone. You don't even need WWW to get addicted to the net. Most of my Internet time has been wasted in usenet news. Thank God I haven't got into irc/mud-madness. That would mean throwing the rest of my normal life (in the eyes of other people) away.
  • How relevant will the results of the research be to the rapidly changing, chaotic rules of cyberspace? I can only hope that it will provide insights in time to make use of them rather than point out patterns and trends that are obvious by the time they are published.
  • "Microsoft and America Online both said the study will be used to better serve their customers."

    I think they meant to better milk ther customers? But Im not sure.... :O)~

  • Yep, frankly; it's pretty in the style of MS; preannouncing that something will happen sometimes :) It's also basically "oh, how we missed getting big money by not researching how TV changed our lives. Now we will watch, and will tell you when we see it changed..."

    After all, when a report is out, every one of us will know all about it, only the people not "on the net" will wonder what this net thing is, just like now :) And, in a weird way, I guess they already missed this change. A generation is too long, if no market participant, including Bill Gates could guess there will be an internet, no "research" will reveal anything. It will be a real tough change.

  • This study isn't really for us, but for our children. We can harvest some of the gains of a life-long study like this, but to realize the entire potential, it needs to run for its full course.

    I guess in 100 years our children will know whether the Internet really was a benefit to our society and can build on our successes and mistakes, while keeping in mind the effect that it has on the human part of the equation.

    There are so many projects now that are designed to be finished in _our_ lifetime, that we forget the benefit of stuff that spans generations. Look at all the monumental pieces of architecture that took hundreds of years to complete.
  • How many years between Gen X and Gen Next? And then how many between Gen Next & the Millenials?

    Since this is a piece of marketing, we have to use marketers definitions of generation, which appears to be logarithmic. "At least" a generation could be five minutes by the end of next year.
  • by Vince ( 4999 ) on Tuesday June 08, 1999 @10:38AM (#1859638) Homepage
    This research has been going on at UCLA for a while. Recently, one of the big grad students was hired by Microsoft research. You can get info on his work at [].

    As far as "fluff" goes, hey, it's Sociology. This is hard-core stuff for them.

  • Study concludes: use of Microsoft products, especially in conjunction with AOL services, will lead to utopia in two generations or less.

    Nothing like impartial funders.
  • by jabber ( 13196 ) on Tuesday June 08, 1999 @10:41AM (#1859640) Homepage
    Generation of people??
    It's hard enough to get a proper psychological study done over that length of time. For technology that's only been around that long to begin with, it'll be damn near impossible. Sounds to me like a publicity stunt designed to make the techno-behemoths appear sociologically minded.

    Now, if they're talking a generation of chips, that's much more plausible. 18 months of non-usage is sure to have some serious implications on the Klamath. :)

  • People who user the Internet frequently:
    • 41% Need to double their eye glass' perscription every 6 months

    • 14% Can be seen driving the wrong way down one-way streets thanks to

    • 75% Laugh at people who pay for pornography or software.

    • 54% Are fully aware that AOL sucks.

    • 99% Always want a bigger monitor.

    • 48% Would rather be playing Quake right now.

    People who do not use the Internet:

    • 52% Wonder if "surfing through cyberspace" is anything like snowboarding

    • 27% Still can't figure out how to dial ".com" on their telephone.

    • 21% Wrap their heads in tin foil to prevent the governement from monitoring their impure thaughts.
  • lol... can you say joke?
  • by Suydam ( 881 )
    I guess I'm feeling argumenative today...but what good will this study do?

    If a "generation" ago, someone decided to sponsor a study of what using computers will do to people there would have been conclusions like "Excessive use of punch-cards causes people headaches." Things change so fast, that the Internet they study today will barely (if at all) resemble the internet they're studying 5 years from now....let alone an entire generation from now.

    Am I the only one who thinks this is a bit of a publicity stunt?

  • Hehe, you won't have to wait 5 years... What will happen to it when Microsoft gets broken up by the DOJ? hehe...
  • not much actual content in the story. I almost ask "Why post it?"

    It isn't important now, but might be later on. The story was fluff, but it at least lets us know something's going on. They should've started something like this survey 2 years ago, just when the Net was starting to take off with the common folk. (Read: when .com addresses been appearing on the sides of buses.)

    The sample size worries me, though. Netsurfers tend towards heterogenity more than the general population (I think) and 2000 people, while practical, might not be enough to get a good data set that's reflective of actual usage patterns. And how many people will report checking out when they were really at *grin*

    Another question: Why are they conducting this survey over the telephone? "Enter your userid/password on, and fill out the HTML forms..."

  • You forgot all the people who use the Internet and then go out and shoot people in the face.
    And those icky bad people who use the Internet and then magically become terrorists.

  • By that logic, in six years they'll have a really nifty "four-generation study". They can talk about all the planning and foresight it took to span the generation gap and get this report together. I'll bet people would actually fall for it, too. The same sort of people who thought that Jar-Jar sucked. Heathens, all of them!
  • I can tell you right now that this study will be highly biased, without having to wait "at least a generation" to see the results. I'm a current UCLA student, and every indication I've seen here points to the fact that UCLA is in Microsoft's back pocket (save for a few small holdouts in the Computer Science and Physics departments). The people who run the dorm network are so pro-Windows and anti-Unix, that they even at one point considered banning Linux from the dorms altogether []. Nearly all of the school's administrative web sites run on NT, and many of its labs do, too.

    So basically, consider this study completely irrelevent.

  • They have to conduct the survey to the telephone because they including people who do not use the net as well as regualar junkies, and everything inbetween ... well that's the plan anyway - or what i got of it. If they must survey some people over the phone, they must survey everyone over the phone, because this is how research is conducted. The results would be skewed if only some people were surveyed over the telephone.

  • Not Sociology. Comm Studies. (Theoretically not quite as bad.) You'd think a UCLA student would know Cole's name...

    I don't think this has anything to do with that grad student. Or at least nothing on his web page looked the same...

    Jason "Comm 10 was fun *and* easy" Untulis
  • Actually, my friends and I have tried to come up with good ranges of when generations start and when they end. You're right, they do seem to be getting shorter and shorter. Here are our humble conclusions (with catchy names! good with milk!):

    Baby Boomers: 1955-1963

    Flower Power: 1963-1970

    Just Plain High: 1971-1977

    Days of Disco: 1977-1983

    Bad Eighties Music: 1982-1989 (overlap, so sue me)

    Generation X: 1990-1994

    Generation Y (or Why?): 1995 ---Just didn't catch on

    Generation Next: 1996-present

    NOTE: These figures indicate when the people of that generation were in high school and college. That's why the baby boomers time frame appears so off.

BLISS is ignorance.