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The Digital Differences In Americans

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the no-surfing dept.

Cellphones 214

antdude writes "When the Pew Internet Project first studied the role of the internet in American life, there were big differences between those who were using the internet and those who weren't. Today, differences in internet access still exist, especially when it comes to access to high-speed broadband at home. From the article: 'Virtually every U.S. household with an annual income over $75,000 is online, but that’s only true for 63% of adults who live in a household with an annual income under $30,000. The numbers look quite similar for different education levels: 94% of adults with post-graduate degrees are online, but 57% of those without high school diplomas remain offline. Beside the obvious economic barriers to entry, though, the Pew poll also found that half of those who don’t go online do so because they just don’t think “the Internet is relevant to them.” One in five of those who are not online today think that they just don’t know enough about technology to use the Internet on their own.'"

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What a surprise! (4, Funny)

memoreks (1172021) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694269)

People earning less cash can afford less things! Who'da thought it?

Re:What a surprise! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694299)

OH hey, mutha fucka! Your sarcasm is a real snore, bro! Verily, ye, ye cannot effectively use it. why dontchya just chill, brah? No one wants it here.

Re:What a surprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694301)

People earning less cash can afford less things! Who'da thought it?

I think you missed the point.

Re:What a surprise! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694349)

There are economic class differences in access to the internet. OH, THE HUMANITY!!!

Wealthier people have different lifestyles with regard to the internet as well as most everything else. OH, THE HUMANITY!!!

Some people just don't see that the internet is relevant to their lives. OH, THE HUMANITY!!!

Re:What a surprise! (2, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694407)

Actually yes it is a big deal. After heat, internet is #1 need in the modern age. You can run a workstation, router and modem easily from solar. Maybe not all day, but enough to get a day of schooling in. I dont think you understand the importance of the internet in every home. EVERY HOUSE should have the option for affordable or free internet, its that important.

Re:What a surprise! (5, Funny)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694449)

Actually yes it is a big deal. After heat, internet is #1 need in the modern age.

So, make sure to recycle those old P4 desktops into needy homes, heat and internet access in one package.

Re:What a surprise! (5, Insightful)

Cheerio Boy (82178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694467)

First - the internet doesn't immediately rank as a survival item. Not even close.

BUT I agree with your point that it should be very close after satisfying those needs.

The problem is that a great many companies want to lock down what you can and can't learn on the Internet. They want you to be nice little servants and only learn those things that don't open the doors to you thinking about things other than those immediate survival things.

The more you educate people in how to think and what's available outside their front door the more free they become. The more free they become the less they wonder why they should pay heed to those in power.

And to those in power that's a dangerous thing. And until we fix the system (not likely any time soon) you will see them clamp down and clamp down hard on anything they consider a threat to their nice cushy positions.

Re:What a surprise! (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694503)

I qualified it with 'modern age' and prefaced it with implied shelter and then dashed it with bit of hyperbole. I didnt outright say it was a survival item but after heat, shelter, food, and love nothing else comes close.

Re:What a surprise! (2, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694523)

a pampered product of a prosperous area, you have no idea what is important and essential. internet not even on the list. let me help you out. income, clothing, health are some other things in the top ten. Internet not even there, mostly a convenience and entertainment source for most people with plenty of alternatives.

Re:What a surprise! (4, Informative)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694623)

Im sorry you see the Library of Alexandria at your fingertips to be a mere source of entertainment. I live in the reality of my time, internet is VITAL to surviving in the modern era. Cant even file your taxes in the U.S. except online now. We arent talking about hypothetical post apocalyptic eras. Im fully aware of the PRIORITY SHIFTING that would occur if we entered a mad max scenario. Even then id be working on long range radio, re-establishing packetized data transfer, and start work on a library that can be easily shared as soon as more basic survival needs were met.

Re:What a surprise! (3, Informative)

Azadre (632442) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694865)

You can go to the Post Office and Local Library to file your taxes. The working world still exists primarily outside of the internet. Banking is the only industry that has truly become dependent on the internet because of NACHA. Yet cash still exists in our society.

Re:What a surprise! (3, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695087)

What complete bullcrap. There are still some 40% or so of people who file by mail. And as far as reference libraries, less than one percent of the Library of Congress is online.

Re:What a surprise! (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694997)

Try to get a job without an e-mail address.

Re:What a surprise! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694655)

Soooo... after everything else that is actually a "need", internet access is the #1 luxury.

Good thing most of those people have local libraries with internet access.

Glad we got that all cleared up.

Re:What a surprise! (1)

Cheerio Boy (82178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694509)

The more free they become the less they wonder why they should pay heed to those in power.

Sorry - meant "The more free they become the MORE they wonder why they should pay heed to those in power."

Re:What a surprise! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694765)

First - the internet doesn't immediately rank as a survival item. Not even close.

i think if you know what you are doing its the only thing you need.

For a time my cousin went homeless. Facebook and a smart phone was her way to beg food and transportation, eventually finding her way to the right government assistance. She has an apartment and a job now. Her facebook has a chapter of all the pictures she took as she wandered the street for a few months.

Re:What a surprise! (5, Insightful)

JosephTX (2521572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695317)

most things listed in the Bill of Rights don't help with survival either (except for the 2nd amendment... 200 years ago). Sheltered suburbanites need to stop saying "well they can SURVIVE without that."

The simple fact is that, when most people have access to the internet, it leaves those without access at a SEVERE disadvantage--and most don't have that access because they're already at a disadvantage to begin with. And before people go all libertarian and say "that's their problem", it's not just theirs: It's also their kids' problems. Nobody can seriously expect a kid growing up in a poor neighborhood--most likely with one parent working afternoon shifts to pay bills instead of staying home to raise them--to somehow compete with all the other kids who can just google any subject they're having trouble with.

A modern new bill of rights regarding the internet and computer science really is needed, and not just limited to giving everyone affordable internet access (which would require the prostitutes we call Congressmen to take back the telecommunications infrastructure they sold to Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon for a fraction of its cost in the 90s), but should also include guarantees such as net neutrality, privacy protection, and rights to any algorithms too basic to be patented.

Re:What a surprise! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694561)

The sad thing is Internet access in the US is very difficult to get:

1: It can easily go over $100 a month for basic Internet services, since DSL or cable tack a bunch of fees.

2: Other than cable or DSL, there isn't much available. Clear is around, but after all the fees, that is also around a C-note a month.

3: Tethering is restricted or metered, which makes it not an option. I do some basic streaming on a phone, and there goes my allocation for the month, and I'm in the $10/gig range.

4: Public Wi-Fi is few and far between due to abuse. Most of the coffee shops where I live that used to have it, have finally shut it down because people turned the tables into their offices, turning away paying customers. Most "public" Wi-Fi isn't free, and requires signing up. Other places sling ads at you, Phorm style.

5: If you do find a Wi-Fi connection, it usually is saturated by people using it for P2P.

6: Of course, there is the public library, but you have to fight your way past the bums fapping in order to get anything done.

All and all, Internet access is very hard to get for a poorer person.

Re:What a surprise! (4, Informative)

anagama (611277) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695047)

Much of your post is just wrong.

Regarding #1: DSL and cable aren't $100/mo -- I have comcast at home, which is expensive but my only choice, and it's $60/mo. I don't get cable TV or voip, just internet, but it is wrong to say that internet is $100/mo.

#2: Clear used to be a better bargain, but I have a Clear for my boat and it's currently $50/mo, not $100. Netflix streams just fine with the basic account.

#3: I have an unlimited unthrottled data plan with TMobile (which sadly they don't offer anymore), $70/mo and I could add tethering for $15/mo. As soon as I get around to it, I'll ditch Clearwire and do that, but for the most part, cell phone data plans do suck, so I'll give you this one.

#4: Not sure where you live, but in my particular smallish-80k-person-town in the Pacific Northwest, you'd be hard pressed to find anyplace downtown where free wifi was NOT available. Every coffee shop and many restaurants offer so much overlapping coverage, there's never an issue with access. Granted, this may not be true everywhere, but in this region, free wifi is as expected as a free glass of water.

#5: never had any trouble with saturated connections.

#6: while plenty of homeless people do use the library computers, there's usually space available and if you have your own laptop, it doesn't matter due to the free wifi.

You make it sound like getting on the net is hard or expensive -- in many places it isn't if a person can find $200 for a used laptop. Certainly my experiences will not be true for every place in the country, but you should realize that your experiences are also not ubiquitous.

Re:What a surprise! (4, Insightful)

magarity (164372) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694923)

EVERY HOUSE should have the option for affordable or free internet, its that important.

Free internet service? How does that happen? Oh, you mean "paid for by someone else". Is it really that important?

Re:What a surprise! (4, Interesting)

evanbd (210358) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695417)

EVERY HOUSE should have the option for affordable or free internet, its that important.

Free internet service? How does that happen? Oh, you mean "paid for by someone else". Is it really that important?

It's really hard to get a job without an Internet connection. Sure, it can be done, but it's harder. It's almost as important as having a phone number and address. Would it be cheaper to subsidize Internet access than to pay unemployment benefits? Or to forgo the taxes that get collected from people who are employed?

Re:What a surprise! (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694989)

After heat, internet is #1 need in the modern age

No one within a thousand miles of me needs a heater.

Re:What a surprise! (5, Insightful)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695367)

After heat, internet is #1 need in the modern age.

Spoken like someone who's never had to worry about having their fundamental survival needs met. You're assuming that every person in America already has the basics and that just isn't true.

Water, food, and shelter come way before internet. Also heating your shelter, preserving your food, and preparing your food. That'd usually be done with electricity but that requires more expenditures of greater priority than internet. Fridge, electric heater, electric stove. Still don't have hot water yet, tho. It wasn't very long ago that it was common to rent a "cold water flat" where you heated water on the stove. So your next splurge will be a water heater.

Those are the things poor people worry about. I can remember a time when my dad lived in a barn. If the internet had existed back then, getting a computer and going online would have been waaaaay down on the to-do list. It looked more like:

Get a room in a house with a floor.
And running water.
HOT running water.
And heat.
And a fridge.
Put food in fridge.
Get a phone. (Today's version of the internet, I suppose.)

Communication's way down the list of fundamentals.

Re:What a surprise! (1, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694463)

People earning less manage beer, expensive rims for their donk, and plenty of other things according to their priorities.

"Poor" in the US isn't anything like "poor" in Afghanistan.

Re:What a surprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694589)

I don't know where in the U.S. you live, but no poor people I know have donkeys.

Re:What a surprise! (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695165)

I'm a poor person who has a donkey. He's cute, but useless -- kicks if you try to ride him, and he bites too!

Poor does exist in the US (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694607)

Just head to any major city and start looking for the homeless camps. It does exist.

Re:Poor does exist in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694705)

Homelessness is a complicated issue. 39% of homeless have mental health issues. Even if you gave them a food, money, a computer, and weren't addicts they wouldn't be able to live normally anyway.

http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/526/homeless-facts.html

If you just look at "normal" poor people in the US many of them have cable, cellphones, etc.

Re:What a surprise! (5, Informative)

ideonexus (1257332) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694855)

I'm sorry this display of ignorant prejudice got modded up as "insightful". I know there are unthinking people on slashdot like anywhere else, but I would expect the more thoughtful community members to down-mod such an offensive stereotype that has no basis in reality. If 13 percent of Americans are poor [wikipedia.org] then, based on your idiotic generalization, there should be base-thumping rim-spinning Lexus cars all over the freakin' place.

I accidentally bought a house in a poor neighborhood in Northeastern North Carolina because I naively didn't know segregation still existed in the South. The people who lived on my street owned old beat-up cars and a few lived without electricity, heating their homes with wood stoves. Yes, there were a few kids whose hobby was working on old Cadillacs to bling them out or whatever, but they were the exception and not the rule.

When I got to know these families, I was constantly challenging them as to why they didn't get rid of their cable-TV service (shared between households) and not go in on a community internet connection with wifi? The answer, it took me forever to finally understand, is that the entire family can share watching a single cheap television, while a computer is something only one person can use and interact with at a time. When you have five kids, you can't get a computer for each and every one of them.

Finally, I sold some stock and used it to buy every kid on my street a used laptop at $200 a head. I gave the kids the laptops on the condition that they take a series of classes from me about computing, which I blogged about [ideonexus.com] , and everything seemed great. I opened our internet connection and put signal-boosters in some of the houses so everyone could enjoy it. I thought I was doing a good thing in this world.

One year later, not a single one of those laptops was still functioning. One by one they succumbed to being stolen by neighborhood gang members or simply broke from the abuse they took at home (if you've ever been in a poor family's damp, cockroach-infested, ancient crumbling home, you'll understand this last statement completely). On the bright side, after the kids got on the internet for a little while, they craved more and I get to keep in touch with most of them on Facebook today as they will walk to the library to get online or have pooled their money together on a family computer.

So when I read comments like those of the parent, it fills me with rage at their ignorance, and when I see people the statement up as "insightful" it breaks my heart.

Re:What a surprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39695285)

+5 for being a decent human being...

Re:What a surprise! (1)

pnot (96038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695385)

I can only say: good on you.

Re:What a surprise! (4, Interesting)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695563)

buy every kid on my street a used laptop at $200 a head.

I did similar in the late 90's. Bunch of ex-corporate laptops, given to kids who would otherwise not have one.

One year later, not a single one of those laptops was still functioning.

And I had exactly the same experience. All of them were toasted/stolen/pawned in short order.

Re:What a surprise! (1)

serialband (447336) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695569)

All I can say is hats off to you.

Re:What a surprise! (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694991)

Mod parent -1 'insensitive clod' please.

Re:What a surprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39695179)

Because we have credit cards. Take those away and I think our poor would be much more similar.

Re:What a surprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694617)

The story here is probably not that this effect is visible but, instead, how pronounced the effect is. If you look at other first-world countries, it's likely that the effect is smaller as a result of policies that ensure internet and mobile access at a reasonable cost. Meanwhile, here in the US where we've allowed the telcos to behave as obnoxiously as they do, having both services is beyond many poor people and they opt for mobile service over home service.

That can't be right (2)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694289)

If that's true, then who's misspelling the captions on all those cat pictures?

Re:That can't be right (1)

Monkey-Man2000 (603495) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694365)

If that's true, then who's misspelling the captions on all those cat pictures?

Your friendly neighborhood dog [unc.edu] I suppose?

Re:That can't be right (1)

jpate (1356395) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694375)

If that's true, then who's misspelling the captions on all those cat pictures?

People who are smarter than 20% of Americans :-D

No internet at home? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694293)

How do these people get their pornography? Surely, they don't enjoy the librarians tutting at them when they use the free library computers to consume media of naked people.

Re:No internet at home? (3, Funny)

uncanny (954868) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694357)

Ever wonder why poor people have so babies?

Re:No internet at home? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694421)

No, but I wonder why dumb people so many words.

Re:No internet at home? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694447)

Because babies has the words. Like cat has cheezburger.

Re:No internet at home? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694459)

"Hey girl, how baby do you wanna have?"

"Sooooo baby!"

Re:No internet at home? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694637)

so many babies, or such babies? 50% of people...are by definition below average intelligence.

Re:No internet at home? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694887)

so many babies, or such babies? 50% of people...are by definition below average intelligence.

Possibly more. 50% assumes a perfect normal distribution. This may not be the case [abelard.org] .

Re:No internet at home? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695139)

50 babies? I wonder if they have their livers with some fava beans and a nice Chianti?

I CAN HAZ THE INTERNET (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694321)

YOURS TRULY
JOHN

Botnet hosts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694331)

Yay, botnet hosts who can't get the botnet clients because they're not using the means to do so. Need more people like them :)

50% of people... (2)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694333)

...are by definition below average intelligence.

Why would we think that 100% of people would be able to use the internet on their own? Or get a higher education for that matter?

Re:50% of people... (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694417)

No, the definition is 50% are below median. The median doesn't necessarily have to equal the average, although for a typical bell curve like intelligence it usually is pretty close.

Its not terribly hard to find a distribution where median and mean are not the same. Stereotypical heartbeat rate in a morgue. Video game level/skill/score.

The almost blindingly obvious reason 1/5 of the population doesn't use the net is its almost impossible and fairly pointless if you're functionally illiterate. Which is probably a good description of about 1/5 the population. I had a former boss who "bragged" about not reading a book since high school... punchline was he had gray hair. Probably not a amazon/kindle customer, etc.

Re:50% of people... (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694505)

That hypothesis doesn't explain why 94% of people age 18-29 use the internet, unless intelligence and/or literacy rates have massively increased.

A simpler hypothesis is that old people don't use the internet, and young people do, and other factors are minimal.

Re:50% of people... (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695225)

Nonsense, many seniors are online and many kids are not. It's more an issue of education and class than age. We have a lot of people of all ages in the US who couldn't read a book or use a computer if their lives depended upon it.

Re:50% of people... (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695247)

That's not what the statistics in the linked report show; they show a much bigger age difference than an education or class difference. 41% of people 65+ are online, whereas 94% of people 18-29 are online, a difference that completely swamps the other factors.

Re:50% of people... (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695427)

When you can report that all the many studies done on this subject agree, you might actually have something. There are so many studies whose results contradict each other every day. This is why we need to learn to think critically, and not just swallow every bit of "information" we get from some "study". Do you think this particular study actually surveyed evey household in the US? :)

Re:50% of people... (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694729)

The almost blindingly obvious reason 1/5 of the population doesn't use the net is its almost impossible and fairly pointless if you're functionally illiterate.

Wait, you're telling me 1/5 of the internet using population isn't functionally illiterate?

Re:50% of people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694807)

Yahoo! Answer will make you hope it's just 20%.

Re:50% of people... (4, Interesting)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695201)

I prefer Miss South Carolina's explaination of why 20% of Americans aren't on the internet:

“I personally believe, that U.S. Americans, are unable to do so, because uh, some, people out there, in our nation don’t have computers. and uh...I believe that our education like such as in South Africa, and the Iraq, everywhere like such as...and, I believe they should uh, our education over here, in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa, and should help the Iraq and Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for us.”

Re:50% of people... (1)

pablomme (1270790) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694457)

50% of people...

...are by definition below average intelligence.

True of the median, not of the mean. If you measure intelligence by IQ, which is designed so that the mean is 100 and the standard deviation is 15, it is perfectly possible that over 50% of the population scores above the mean. Or below it.

Re:50% of people... (2)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695223)

The distribution of IQ is defined (in modern tests anyway) as a normal distribution--the median is 100 w/ a sd of 15, and the median is equal to the mean. It is not even slightly possible to have over 50% on either side of the mean.

Re:50% of people... (4, Insightful)

toejam13 (958243) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694609)

I agree. I think that the huge influx of laypersons onto the Internet has been both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, having more people of all social, economic and education backgrounds has encouraged a more rounded environment. It has allowed websites to flourish which otherwise may have been little more than a niche sites back when it was mostly university geeks and researchers. But on the other, we have a subset of people who are more open to scams, who place a larger burden on support resources and who are unable to deal with issues such as compromised computers infected with Trojan horses.

But the bigger and darker issue is that the Internet is much more about user feedback than at any time before. It is a place where every voice and opinion can receive an equal audience. What happens when you have millions of uneducated riff-raff joining in the conversation, especially when the topic is political in nature? It often drags the quality of the conversation down. You end up with people parroting their worldviews rather than thinking about the subject at hand. Unless that environment is heavily moderated, it will end up sullied.

As to the groups of people who are underrepresented on the Internet, I'm relieved that is the case. While some of them may begin to change their worldviews from being exposed to more ideas, I think the benefit to society would be greatly outweighed by the damage such people would cause. But the genie is already out of the bottle. Costs will continue to drop and more services will simply require Internet access in order to procure them. Internet penetration will continue to climb. I think that it is inevitable that everyone will have access, and we as a society will just have to adapt to it, for better or worse.

Re:50% of people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694691)

What surprising is the number who don't think they could use it on their own. That sort of wisdom is lacking in so many (who ignore the fact and then use the intarwebs any way.) Given the laws being passed to protect people on the webs for those comparatively 'early' adopters by completely clueless law makers, lord help us when this '63% of households under $30,000' need protecting too.

elderly are a large portion of it (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694359)

If you remove the single largest factor for non-adoption (age), the rates are generally pretty high, and the other factors mentioned make less difference. That's why I wish these surveys focused more on multi-factor analysis instead of these easy-to-do but less-useful analyses where you just pull out single factors. Sure, people with lower incomes are less likely to be online, and people with lower educational attainment are less likely to be online, but those two factors also correlate strongly, and matter differently for different age cohorts. Which factors have independent effects after controlling for the others? That's the kind of analysis that would be more helpful...

So yes, 22% of Americans don't use the internet. But a large proportion of those are over 65: in that age group, 69% of people don't use the internet. That's just generational change.

If we look at young people, age 18-29, a full 94% use the internet. There is probably some education/income effect in there, but a much weaker one: only 6% of total young people, even including the poorest and least educated in the statistics, don't use the internet.

Note also that educational attainment isn't separate from the age effect, because going to college used to be less common in my grandfather's generation than it is today, so there are some confounds baked into those numbers, too.

In short: Where are the goddamn crosstabs?!?

Re:elderly are a large portion of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694439)

...so there are some confounds baked into those numbers, too.

Pet peeve of mine: "confound" is not a noun!!!

Re:elderly are a large portion of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694513)

Of course that is true, but at least he knows how to form plurals and possessives. I'm prepared to forgive a lot for that.

Re:elderly are a large portion of it (2, Funny)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694479)

If you remove the single largest factor for non-adoption (age), the rates are generally pretty high

so you're suggesting Logan's Run [wikipedia.org] as a solution to improving the rate of internet usage?
 
Who are you? some kinda liberal/commie/lefty who embraces Obamacare and is just itching for the death panels to get up and running?

Re:elderly are a large portion of it (5, Funny)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694535)

Logan's Run is such a panacea, really. Not only would it increase internet adoption, but imagine the other statistical benefits: It'd raise our percentage of college graduates, increase the average physical fitness of both men and women, improve our per-capita GDP, and even decrease cancer rates.

Re:elderly are a large portion of it (4, Funny)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694559)

Logan's Run is such a panacea, really. Not only would it increase internet adoption, but imagine the other statistical benefits: It'd raise our percentage of college graduates, increase the average physical fitness of both men and women, improve our per-capita GDP, and even decrease cancer rates.

Damn you for taking my trolling post and converting it into a reasonable argument!

Re:elderly are a large portion of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39695459)

Logan's Run is such a panacea, really

Although I would increase the termination age to 50 or 55 years. So society gets the maximum value from a person as an employee, consumer, grandparent without the costs of old-age and generational stagnation; like in the 1920s.

Why develop medicines that make old-age last longer? Those medicines lengthen the unproductive portion of our lives. Which causes the overall burden of welfare to increase while reducing its effectiveness (education, technological standard of living).

Re:elderly are a large portion of it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694563)

Yup, bingo. I might add though that I'm in a modest income old apartment building with a lot of seniors. (I'm not far from qualifying myself.) I've been here over a decade; I know my neighbors pretty well. Near as I can figure, only one senior hasn't bothered with the net.

It's a combination of email and pretty much everything being "check our website" now that made the conversion in the last five years. That said, literacy rate is pretty high here. In other sections of the country that may be a factor.

The other missing crosstab, is how many of these people 'not on net' use it over a phone, and didn't realize that qualified? The cheapest prepaid Nokia has a web browser.

Re:elderly are a large portion of it (2)

jimbrooking (1909170) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694725)

You might want to watch the stereotyping. I'm the (volunteer) webmaster for a fairly affluent community of 2,000 or so mostly retired people. We require registration for our website to keep community information away from outsiders like Google and spammers. I personally approve each registration after verifying residence status. At the moment we have about half our community registered; around 250 are on the site weekly, another 100 or so lees frequently, and another 200 occasionally. My site does make provisions for vision-impaired people, but is pretty attractive for all. It's dynamic (changes a few times a week), and has lots of AJAX pages like directory lookups, bulletin board search etc.. We do have our share of problems, many related to lack of computer skills and knowledge, e.g., when users "can't login" or "can't find xyz page". With patience and some hand-holding, our users mostly find what they want with little hassle. So I submit that at least from my N=1 sample, you might find the computer usage among older demographic follows income and education as much as age. Oh - I'll be 73 in July.

Hope they mentioned population density... (3, Informative)

Nutria (679911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694377)

I've got family that live out in the country, and their dial-up service was so slow and noisy that they could only reach 14.4Kbps for 5 minutes at a time. Naturally they dropped service and haven't tried it since.

Re:Hope they mentioned population density... (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694701)

Exactly. Income is not the only determinant: geography is a major factor. And in less-developed areas, broadband capability disappears quickly as you depart the city or town limits. As a personal example, I spent several years living in a small town in West Virginia. We actually checked with the local broadband provider BEFORE we signed an agreement to buy: 2 of the homes we preferred were beyond range of the local provider: our only other choices were dial-up or Satellite. Both houses were within 2 miles of the town border. . . .

Re:Hope they mentioned population density... (2)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695337)

Yes, the crap quality phone lines are a huge issue for those of us in outlying areas without broadband options. I relocated to such an area last December, and my average connection speed hovers between 1.5 and 5.2 kbps. It's painful, and I can see how the average person simply wouldn't bother. Using a smartphone isn't much better when you're more than 4 miles from the nearest tower, either. AT&T took all that tax money 2 or 3 years ago to "rollout broadband to rural residents", but they haven't done a damned thing about the problem. Our phone lines are probably the same ones they installed in the early 60s.

TV should be good enough for poor people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694379)

TV is for poorer, less educated people. The internet is for richer, higher educated people. Thought everyone knew that.

Upward mobility how? (1, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694425)

Anonymous Coward wrote:

TV is for poorer, less educated people.

But then how are less educated people supposed to become more educated? NBC, ABC, CBS/CW, and My/Fox haven't been doing a lot of good in that respect IMO.

Re:Upward mobility how? (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694461)

Anonymous Coward wrote:

TV is for poorer, less educated people.

But then how are less educated people supposed to become more educated? NBC, ABC, CBS/CW, and My/Fox haven't been doing a lot of good in that respect IMO.

They're supposed to get federal government guaranteed loans for the maximum possible amount to attend training schools of course. Educational-industrial complex profit maximizing, etc.

Re:TV should be good enough for poor people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694525)

I do not own a television but I sometimes watch a few TV shows via the Internet. What assumptions will you make about my levels of education and affluence?

Who needs the damn internet? (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694393)

I get all the gossip I need from my neighbors, bartenders, and hair stylist

Re:Who needs the damn internet? (1)

aix tom (902140) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694465)

Quite the service from your bartender to post your opinions, too. ;-P

Re:Who needs the damn internet? (1)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694531)

Facebook is part of the Internet.

Television vs Internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694493)

I know a few people who make under 30k a year. They all pay $100/mo for cable TV and complain they cannot afford paying for the Internet.

Priorities.

Re:Television vs Internet (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694541)

that's funny, since in most the USA you can get basic cable plus internet for under $100 a month. they should drop some premium channels. then hook a $50 or less piece of shit PC running linux or bsd to the net. you remind me of the photo of our "poor" people (welfare queens) flocking Michele Obama with their iphones and $200+ footwear.

Also church goers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694549)

Perhaps they should just ask God and Jesus for internet access.?

Or maybe instead of spending all that time in church and reading the bible, they could be trying to get an education instead of studying about the Great Flood and first rainbow.

The poor in the USA, especially the south are the most uneducated bunch of religious, shit-kickers I've ever known. They truly believe the logical fallacy: "He's poor therefore wise." Yet insist in shoving money at TV preachers.

If you don't believe me, just check the demographics for Mississippi.

Time to create an "Eldernet" for the elderly ?? (1)

dryriver (1010635) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694575)

Given that most of the people who are "permanently offline" are people aged 65 or over, who are simply too old the learn the ins & outs of the often times complex & confounding interwebs, maybe there should be a project to create a kind of "Eldernet" for older people? This would be an alternative, simplified internet with bigger text & images, text-to-speech functionality (for those who are vision impaired), much simpler navigation & search (maybe voice-commands like "how much does a lawnchair cost at the local Walmart" or "take me to the Bank of America customer services page"). Also, crucially, no advertising, pop-up windows, and other things that can clutter up the screen and make for mental confusion would be allowed. In short: A sort of easy-to-use Fisher-Price version of the Internet & browser (& maybe OS too), for those too old to deal with the complexity and nagging problems of, say, a Windows 8 Laptop running IE or Firefox. Another nice idea would be to offer free internet-access to people past retirement age, paired with elderly-user-friendly "Eldernet" functionality. It might make the world a more civilized place for all involved...

Re:Time to create an "Eldernet" for the elderly ?? (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694749)

The net is the net. What you think of as the "Eldernet" should really be a simplified client/OS aimed at Seniors. Think about what Microsoft tried for, and utterly failed at, with MS Bob. [wikipedia.org] . Someone TRIED doing this on an all-in-one-platform with the "Telkin PC for Seniors" [allthingsd.com] , but failed on both a UI and a cost perspective. It was way too expensive for what it delivered, and both lacked essential functionality AND defacto "talked down" to its' users. . . . .

Re:Time to create an "Eldernet" for the elderly ?? (1)

dryriver (1010635) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694957)

The "Eldernet" I had in mind would make use of existing Internet infrastructure. An "Eldernet" certified website, however, would be visually simple, with larger text, easy to understand, and easier to get around (think site-navigation) than a regular webpage. A simplified browser/PC UI on its own wouldn't quite do the trick. The websites themselves would have to be designed for older people as well. The closest thing I've seen to a "Older User Friendly" computer is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1" Android tablet. I've seen older users (aged 70 and above) get along pretty OK with it once the tablet is configured - email client and basic apps are setup and so forth - and the older person using it has had a few hours of basic instruction on how to get things done with it. Its definitely much, much easier to use than a typical Windows PC. The Samsung has a universal "back button" in the bottom-left corner of the screen, that you can simply hammer if you get lost in an application somehow. In 99% of cases, this will throw you back to a clean start screen, from where the task you want to carry out can be re-attempted from scratch.

Re:Time to create an "Eldernet" for the elderly ?? (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695555)

Maybe you can sell the concept to what's left of AOL.

spelling error (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694581)

The noun 'Internet' is capitalized. It appears in this article both with a lower case 'i' and a capital, so I guess the author wasn't sure....

such problems. (1)

carpefishus (1515573) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694587)

first world problem.

Smartphones? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694593)

Were they included? Most everyone i know in ALL economic segments have one.. and those are "online".

Re:Smartphones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694779)

Were they included? Most everyone i know in ALL economic segments have one.. and those are "online".

You do not know the old or the indigent.

Re:Smartphones? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694959)

You have a very narrow social group. The same Pew survey found smartphone penetration is only about 35% of the population.

Re:Smartphones? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39695125)

They are wrong. My group spans from people that make millions, to people on disability.

Internet access has passed cable TV in the US (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694791)

Only 44% of the residences which can get cable TV actually buy it. [ncta.com] In comparison, 68% of US households have broadband access. [doc.gov] (3% are still on dialup.) That's impressive reach for an industry that barely existed a decade ago.

Bear in mind that a significant fraction of the US population barely reads. 14% of the US adult population has "below basic literacy skills." [ed.gov] They are not likely to find a computer very useful. Another 15% of Internet penetration and everyone who can read will be connected.

Measured by a different study, the most connected major countries are at 80%, +- 2%. The US and Japan are at 78%, Germany is at 80%, Korea is at 81%, and the UK is at 82%.

Poor People Tend To Be Idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694805)

Poor people are more likely to be idiots (why else would they remain poor and not figure out how to make money).

Idiots tend not to want to use the Internet as much (who wants to sit at a computer for fun? that's nerd stuff)

Case closed.

Re:Poor People Tend To Be Idiots (0)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694921)

Poor people are more likely to be idiots (why else would they remain poor and not figure out how to make money).

Idiots tend not to want to use the Internet as much (who wants to sit at a computer for fun? that's nerd stuff)

Case closed.

Not necessarily. They could be illegals, have chronic health problems, or not be interested in earning money (people who work long term for the Peace corps medical teams)

In other breaking news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39694955)

The sky is blue, the moon is the major driving force behind the tides, and Slashdot makes car analogies.

Ignorance is a barrier to.. (0)

Brickwall (985910) | more than 2 years ago | (#39694961)

I not no how to uze internets, but me has gun and can drive the car to beer store.

They have internet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39695505)

All the state/federal check recipeints that I know have internet if they want it and haven't worked a day in their lives, hell they are even getting free cell phones

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