Accentuate the Negative

This small item of twisted news has been sitting on my desk for a few weeks. Since it’s not the kind of thing that stale-dates very quickly, you may find the emphases more interesting than the actual statistics, though the numbers themselves are done with the usual MSM accuracy.

First the headline from al-Reuters:

Many Americans see little point to Web?

Here’s the lead paragraph:

A little under one-third of U.S. households have no Internet access and do not plan to get it, with most of the holdouts seeing little use for it in their lives…

Notice that it does not say that a clear majority of households – 69 percent, to be precise – do have Internet access. In fact, what it chooses to emphasize is that 29 percent of us are not connected and don’t plan to pony up for the privilege. Though they express this 29 percent as “a little under one third.”

Then you dig a little deeper and come across this:

“I do all my e-commerce shopping and YouTube-watching at work” was cited by 14 percent of Internet-access refuseniks. Three percent said the Internet doesn’t reach their homes.

So now the “almost one third” has been reduced by 17 percent. And of those people, almost half browse the net at work; that puts them out of the “refusenik” category. Combine them with the number of people whose homes are unable to access the internet, and the number of “refuseniks” drops considerably: from the “almost one third” (i.e., 29 percent) to reality, which is this: only 12 percent of us are “refuseniks”, as al-Reuters optimistically terms them.

It does not give the ages of those who aren’t interested, but I’ll bet the majority are over the age of 70, and simply don’t want the hassle of upkeep on a technology that came too late to allow them to adapt easily. I think of my 80-something cousin, a retired professor of French and a computer phobe to the hilt even though his children are in the industry.

As a counter example, I offer all those people in the library, signed up for their half hour online. Does your library have a section devoted to terminals? At ours when I walk by the first thing I notice is the span of the age groups browsing for information.

For some of the purported “refuseniks”, it’s a matter of poverty. A woman I knew who lived in our rural county in a shack without heat and running water (it was what she could afford while she went to school) had a Hotmail account and used the library to access her messages, or to look up information for her classes.
– – – – – – – – – –
“Almost one third” indeed. In addition to the negative emphasis, look at this bit of carelessness in their accounting. Remember they said 29 percent of households do not have access and don’t plan to get it? Well, further on, (using the earlier numbers I cited) they break down the particulars of this minority as follows:

“I’m not sure how to use the Internet” came from 17 percent of participants who do not subscribe. The response “I do all my e-commerce shopping and YouTube-watching at work” was cited by 14 percent of Internet-access refuseniks. Three percent said the Internet doesn’t reach their homes.

Does that add up to 29 per cent?

Does al-Reuters care?

Give it up guys. Your turn in the sun is passing.

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Meanwhile, for you Linux lovers out there – or anyone with an animus toward Bill Gates – here’s an article from last November on the “$150.00 Laptop Per Child“ conceived by Nicholas Negroponte for poor countries who need computer literate children and have signed on for the idea.

Of course, the concept has been bashed by Gates, who has his own ideas about a cell phone which could more limitedly function as a computer. Negroponte is using Linux because Gates – definitely a “refusenik” when asked for help – has his nose out of joint. Thus the rush to compete with a good idea with the intention of obliterating it. That boy Gates don’t share, as anyone who has paid through the nose for Windows can tell you.

Apple’s Jobs, on the other hand, did offer his operating system for free, but wisely, Negroponte decided to stay with an open source for this project. So it’s Linux for all those computers going to Indian and Thai and African kids.

Thank you, Finland.

17 thoughts on “Accentuate the Negative

  1. I know one person that has no internet interest at all, and he’s in his Mid-40s. His excuse is that he knows nothing about computers, and thus would have trouble with viruses. And he doesn’t want to spend the money to get an email account. Which is a shame- I’ve offered him one of my old computers, free as in for nothing. But he won’t even take me up on that.

    Actually, my father generally won’t touch a computer either. Never been on line, and I think he’s only used a computer a couple times (solitaire). Surprising, since he worked on electronics for over 40 years.

    My mom however, loves hers.

    Does that equal 29 percent?

  2. I guess that makes the internet officially a good thing ™.

    It has to be, or they wouldn’t be so down on it.

    Nattering Nabobs of Negativity, I think was the old phrase.

  3. My dad is 75 and he uses his computer every day. He is not a technology phobe. It takes him a while to figure stuff out, like text messaging, but he is not afraid of it.

  4. On the subject of Linux : Some of us live in countries where the authorities have a rather ‘relaxed’ relationship with citizen’s privacy, to say the least. Why does the EU pop up in my mind ?

    These ‘authorities’ know quite well that the overwhelming majority of people use Microsoft Windows, so if any 12-year old script-kiddie and all kinds of hijackers, spammers, con-men, criminals and tele-marketers can ‘take over’ your computer, so can they. Take my own country as an example : beginning September the Police ‘Intelligence’ Service will be authorized to install all kinds of spyware, trojans, keyloggers and viruses on our home computers – if they haven’t done it already. By doing so they’re enabled to read our e-mail, snatch our passwords, monitor our web habits and record the number of times we hit places such as GoV, Little Green Footballs, Jihad Watch etc…

    Their excuse for this is ‘counter-terror-monitoring’ of course. But dumb as the Jihadists may seem, I doubt they’re that dumb. I’ll bet they do the ‘best’ they can to use all kinds of encryption, anti-virus applications and firewalls in order to make life for the Police as cumbersome as possible. Not that it helps much anyway, but it makes things a bit harder for everyone, including themselves. And the Police – being low-payed civil servants – are lazy, just as everyone else. Why not pick the low-hanging fruit first ?

    And do you trust your police ? – I don’t. Do you know for sure who’s side they are on ? – I don’t. And are you absolutely sure the Jihadists are unable to ‘hack’ your box ? – OK, but probability isn’t safety.

    So I use Linux. Aside from the immediate benefits such as zero-cost, a snappier computer and expedient community-support it gives me a slew of other advantages : The one in control is me, not Bill Gates. I can set up my system exactly as I like. No more crashes, reboots, viruses, spyware, rootkits, trojans, keyloggers or whatever. Nobody but me can take over my box unless they physically steal it. If they try it from the internet, they’ll face a steel-hardened, uncrackable, impenetrable operating system. If they try it in person, they’ll face a steel-hardened, hollow-point, 9 mm bullet.

    I sleep very well at night….

  5. Reuters sucks. I caught yet another trivial but egregious Reuters error here, a ludicrously mislabelled photo caption.

    Yes, windows also sucks. I am seriously considering setting up a system of three different PCs – one offline with an air gap for documents and archiving, one for casual surfing and one for serious internet (banking etc).

  6. Excuse me – but you are accentuating the negative. Bashing Windows will appeal to all the OS snobs out there (“Windows sucks” – thoughtful comment), but if you really want to try Linux, go ahead. As a non-geek, you will likely be sorry.

    And it is definitely not true that Gates refused to help, nor that he had his “nose out of joint”. Gates offered a free version of Windows CE (Compact Edition – used in devices all over the world for years) for the project, but Negroponte refused both Jobs and Gates because he is a Linux zealot.

    [begin quote]
    According to several people familiar with the discussions, Microsoft had encouraged Mr. Negroponte to consider using the Windows CE version of its software, and Microsoft had been prepared to make an open-source version of the program available.

    Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, had also offered a free version of his company’s OS X operating system, but Mr.
    Negroponte rejected that idea because the software was largely not open-source, meaning users could not get free access to software and its source code, which they could then modify. Mr. Negroponte said in an interview here that he had resolved to use Linux not because it was free but because of its quality and maintainability.

    “I chose open-source because it’s better,” he said. “I have 100 million programmers I can rely on.”

    [end quote]


    God knows there are no Windows programmers out there he can “rely on” – like me, or the Baron.

    I’d say the big difference between OSs is that Windows users use Windows without making a cult out of it, or getting all emotionally wrapped up in hating its competition. I don’t think Linux or Apple “Suck”, I just don’t find them compelling alternatives for me.

  7. Ahhhh, computer talk…

    The public attitude toward Apple as compared to Microsoft is a reflection of the political stage. Let Apple and Microsoft engage in the same underhanded corporate tactic. For Microsoft, the reaction will be, “See! Microsoft is the Evil Empire, crushing all opposition with its predatory tactics! Bill Gates is Satan!!!!!!!!111”, while for Apple the reaction will be, “It’s legitimate for any corporation to do things in order to make a profit. Besides, Apple is an innovator while Microsoft just stole everything. And Apple is just barely after a struggle for its existence, while Microsoft is a behemoth not likely to go under for some time”.

    If you’re strong, then you’re wrong, as Russ Vaughn of The American Thinker says…

  8. 2 more comments –

    First, the idea that the ability to modify source code – right down to the operating system kernel – is a prerequisite for a “peoples computer” is a notion that could only occur to a man like Negroponte, who has been breathing whatever it is they use instead of air at MIT for many years;

    And secondly, how did we ever get to the present level of Internet availability without massive gummint programs to make PCs and Internet access free for the disadvantaged? Remember how Algore used to go on about the “digital divide”, in which only the rich would supposedly have access to the brave new world, and the poor would languish in an information desert?

    During the Clinton administration, I went to a Geographic Information Systems conference in the DC Area. A fellow from the President’s Science Advisor’s office bemoaned as unfair the fact that under the new information economy, success would disproprtionately favor those who could read! I swear! In a huge room full of information professionals, nobody laughed but me.

  9. “I do all my e-commerce shopping and YouTube-watching at work” was cited by 14 percent of Internet-access refuseniks.

    I don’t call them refusniks, I call them lazy, cheap jerks willing to violate their company’s Internet policies to avoid paying the bill themselves!

    Why does the MSM aways fail me so??? *sigh*

  10. Just want to say… Linux isn’t half as hard as you think it is.

    PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu and a bunch of others are a snap to install and use. My wife uses linux. My wife is not a computer person. My ad uses linux. He hates computers. When I’ve tried teaching him to use windows he can’t do it. He has to leave the room when it crashes because he simply can’t take it when thigns do something he isn’t expecting. It’s just the way his brain’s wired.

    Negroponte has not refused to allow Gates to put windows on the OLPC. In fact he gave Microsoft a dozen or so sample macheins to see if they could cram their OS on to it, and they’re trying very hard. CE is just a little bit too big for it right now. Linux isn’t. It’s not ideaology that drives that, it’s simply the necessity for the project to use a highly scalable OS, which Linux is and Windows currently isn’t. But, as I said, he’s not refusing to let them try…

  11. That said, it’s not worth arguing over. Negroponte is doing what he’s doing for his reasons, and if he thinks that Linux will give him the best value for his investment then that’s his choice. I happen to agree with him, but that’s my choice. Use what you feel best provides for your needs and let the market sort it out. 🙂

  12. I agree it’s his choice; I just get a little tired of all the MS-bashing. Gates derangement syndrome is not too far from Bush derangement syndrome.

    Maybe I’ll try playing with one of the new distributions on a dual boot or VM system. I last tried Linux back in the early Red Hat days and it was a real pain.

    Like I say, I don’t think other OSs “suck” – its just the cloying odor of sanctimony (not to mention gratuitous anger) that so many of their users seem to emit (present company excepted).

  13. I dislike a certain tendency in the media and political establishment to assume that lacking something must mean something is wrong.

    My biggest pet peeve is the question of home ownership. I live in an apartment. I live in an apartment because I want to live in an apartment. It doesn’t mean I want to live in a house but can’t afford it; it means I want to live in an apartment. Sure, I want more room than I have now. That means I want a bigger apartment — not a house!

    Both Republican and Democratic politicians act as though there is something wrong with living in an apartment, as if everybody wanted to live in a house. (Don’t get me started on those financial traps called “starter homes”.) Legislators will cite racial disparities in home ownership on C-SPAN, as if home ownership were some central tenet of “The American Dream” denied to black people. Am I supposed to believe that living in an apartment, even preferring the experience, is some form of leprosy?

    Likewise, I use dialup. It’s cheaper than broadband and it suits my purposes. Yet, I keep hearing about a “digital divide” that assumes there is something wrong with those using dialup. Yeah, like I’m supposed to be this poor pitiful excuse for a human being because I don’t have broadband. What rot.

    In my household, we don’t have an electric mixer. It isn’t because we are poor. It’s because we prefer to use a bowl and a wooden spoon to mix ingredients. Besides, it’s a form of exercise.

    I think there is something wrong with assuming there is something wrong with people when they don’t own certain possessions that are presumed to confer civilization upon their owners.

  14. You are quite correct, of course. I think the only possession that rightly confers the presumption of civilization is a book (of course, I am a geezer). There’s not a lot of civilization on YouTube.

    No offense intended, but your remark “something wrong with…something wrong with”

    Reminds me of:

    I think that all right-thinking people in this country are sick and
    tired of being told that ordinary, decent people are fed up in this
    country with being sick and tired. I’m certainly not! And I’m sick and tired of being told that I am!

  15. As I try to keep the wire attached to my old Remington manual, let me say that the internet is wildly over-sold.

    E.G.: its online Wiki’d “encyclopedia” -that has no serious oversight, and can be changed minute by minute to reflect the prejudices of any passing punk – is symptomatic of a naive idealism that pre-emptively atrophies the critical faculties of the newcomers.

    Having never encountered Cartesian Doubt, they are easy prey to Machiavellian manipulation (ga-ga “9/11 Truthers”, ad absurdum).

    Aristotle may be a little abstruse, but any introductory work on Epistemology would be a useful antidote to the growing credulity of the Gen-Web.

    Discovering “how” you know should come before trusting “what” you know.

    You know?

  16. Profitsbeard, that’s all good and well, but knowing how isn’t much good without also knowing why… why do we question? Your averge wiki user or ‘truther’ wouldn’t be able to answer that one. They haven’t any reason. They don’t know why.

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