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.
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“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.
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.