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U.S. Internet Growth Stalling

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the horseless-carriages-are-such-a-bad-idea dept.

318

abb_road writes "Internet usage is predicted to grow by only 1% in 2006, with uptake slowing even more in subsequent years. The article examines causes for the slowdown, including individuals who are actively choosing to not be online. These non-users cite a number of reasons for their decision, including cost and increased productivity. Is this simply a combination of luddites and a statistical quirk, or is the Internet reaching its saturation point in the U.S.?"

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Privacy (5, Insightful)

TheOzz (888649) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926015)

From the article, "Goodwin knows how easy it is for Big Brother to gain access to personal information." This one reason for not using the Internet is a perfect example of pure ignorance in regards to privacy. I bet this person has no problem handing a credit card to the waitress, gas station attendant, or retail clerk. How do these oh so careful people combat a waitress, gas station attendant, or retail clear from making note of the credit card number, three digit security code on the back, and expiration date and then selling it to a friend or using it themselves?

Re:Privacy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926156)

Wrongo buddy
You do realize that I pay cash for (almost) everything.
I rotate my Safeway club cards with several other people

Re:Privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926241)

Wrongo buddy,

you are a very rare freak and why are you responding to him as if he's specifically talking to you. he's not. there are probably 10,000 people like you in the country. you are a very small statistical outlier and don't matter. therefore, your opinion on this matter, which is a very macro view of things, has no place or foundation in this conversation.

enjoy.

Re:Privacy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926229)

I bet this person has no problem handing a credit card to the waitress, gas station attendant, or retail clerk. How do these oh so careful people combat a waitress, gas station attendant, or retail clear from making note of the credit card number, three digit security code on the back, and expiration date and then selling it to a friend or using it themselves?

That's a straw man argument.

I don't know where you buy gas, but where I buy gas, it's pay-at-the-pump. No attendant involved.

Likewise, most retailers *I* go to have card readers that the buyer swipes. The clerk never even sees or touches the card.

Restaurants are the big exception, but why assume that people that disagree with you are hypocritical idiots? Maybe someone paranoid enough not to shop online pays cash for his meals?

In any case, any minimum wage clerk willing to harvest CC numbers is taking a much bigger risk in getting caught than a script kiddy phishing from Romania.

Re:Privacy (2, Insightful)

zoloto (586738) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926294)

There is the assumption that they use credit cards at all. Some people who fit snugly into your statement wouldn't use a credit card for dining out, or even the gas station. Some of us simply won't trust the internet or the random-crap-shoot of an employee this week at the local 7-11 for gas with our cc's until a decent system is in place.

Well... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926017)

there's only so much porn you can watch....

other reasons . . . (3, Interesting)

tubbtubb (781286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926018)

I'm sure spam, phishing scams, and annoying ads also play a role in the barrier for growth.
There's also my personal reason (for not getting online AS MUCH anyway) -- I sit at a computer
all day at work, why would I want to do more of that in my spare time?

Re:other reasons . . . (3, Funny)

punxking (721508) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926102)

I sit at a computer all day at work, why would I want to do more of that in my spare time?

Yeah, plus you already read slashdot while you were at work!

Re:other reasons . . . (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926188)

I would add blogs to that list. It's becoming increasingly difficult to find things of value on the Internet. When I'm looking for information on a particular subject, I don't want to have to look through pages and pages of little Billies take on the subject. Lately, I've been begging for a search engine that filters out blogs completely. The amount of garbage on the Internet is becoming a serious problem, especially for the average user.

I don't see why most bloggers don't simply give out user names and passwords to friends or people that request access, it's really quite simple to do and many blogging packages already have this functionality built in. At least block your site from being indexed so people don't have to read your mundane dribble when looking for something. Quite frankly, the vast majority of bloggers don't have anything worthwhile to say on their blog and it's simply cluttering up search engines with more crap. Then there's all the bloggers who write a sentence about something and then provide a link to a real journalist...

Re:other reasons . . . (4, Insightful)

pebs (654334) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926224)

I sit at a computer all day at work, why would I want to do more of that in my spare time?

I hear this idea a lot. But I don't get it, at least not for someone who is a computer enthusiast. Yes, I spend all day at work on the computer, but not all that time is very much fun. In my spare time, I like to use computers for all those fun or useful activities that I couldn't use it at work for because I was too busy WORKING. Granted, I do a wide variety of other activities in my free time, but some of it goes to using computers (which includes programming and other activities that are essentially forms of work). Maybe my job is just getting boring and I don't get to create all the things I want to, so I have to spend my free time to do the things I want to do.

2006 (0, Offtopic)

Vandilizer (201798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926033)

Just a question is it not 2006 now or did I miss something?

Re:2006 (1)

Vandilizer (201798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926057)

Never mind missed the "predicts" mod me to hell

I Myself Am Cutting Down My Internet Use (4, Funny)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926036)

I find it is eating into my TV time.

I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926116)

These non-users cite a number of reasons for their decision, including cost and increased productivity

I agree.
Ever since I started using the internet at work my productivity has shot through the roof. Thank you, Slashdot!

Re:I Myself Am Cutting Down My Internet Use (1)

Hogwash McFly (678207) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926254)

Strange, I find that TV cuts into my eating time.

Re:I Myself Am Cutting Down My Internet Use (1, Funny)

rossifer (581396) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926403)

As a surgeon, I've stopped going out to lunch because...

eating reduces my cutting time.

(I'm not a surgeon)

Is resistance really futile? (2, Interesting)

bj8rn (583532) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926037)

Or is it still possible to live without using the Internet? I would certainly think so. Unfortunately, I don't think there's any turning back for me (or any other Slashdotter, for that matter). I can only change my Internet usage habits, but I can't stop using it.

Re:Is resistance really futile? (1)

Ken Hall (40554) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926077)

It's certainly going to get harder. I live in New Jersey, and own a business. Every year I have to file a report with the state, and in the past it went on a paper form with my tax return. This year, it was filed online. ONLY online. No other option. I also do my sales tax reporting online, and the state has stopped sending me paper forms, so it looks like that's going to be mandatory too.

I've been renewing my car registrations via the web for several years. I wonder how long before they make that the standard too.

First Post! (0, Offtopic)

Petskull (650178) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926039)

This is gonna get easier from now on!

Re:First Post! (0, Offtopic)

fourtyfive (862341) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926074)

Too bad your first post is Eigth...

How about fear as a good reason? (0)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926040)

The fear that some moron is going to drag you to court because the foto you took shows a show in the background and he owns the copyright to it?

Or that you might accidently write something that someone already published in a similar format and he sues you for a billion?

With copyright out of hand, I wouldn't dare writing anything on a webpage that someone might have said before. At least not on a webpage that I'm liable for.

Re:How about fear as a good reason? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926112)

The fear that some moron is going to drag you to court because the foto you took shows a show in the background and he owns the copyright to it?

Or that you might accidently write something that someone already published in a similar format and he sues you for a billion?

With copyright out of hand, I wouldn't dare writing anything on a webpage that someone might have said before. At least not on a webpage that I'm liable for.


I JUST posted that same comment on Digg! Didn't you just write something on a webpage with that post?

Re:How about fear as a good reason? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926154)

You can't copyright facts, so sue me if you want.

Re:How about fear as a good reason? (1)

HTL2001 (836298) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926228)

I agree, but the guy sueing the author of the davinci code thinks otherwise...

Re:How about fear as a good reason? (1)

caffeination (947825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926144)

Nah, most internet users don't contribute a damn thing. The closest most come to providing content is the small minority who don't know how to stop their p2p clients from uploading back into the system.

Give me a break (2, Insightful)

catbutt (469582) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926243)

You really think that if you post something (that you wrote) on your blog that someone is going to sue you for copyright infringement? You may have valid points about copyright being "out of hand", but if you seriously think that more than, say, five people in the world cancel their internet out of fear of being sued for infringement, you need to seriously get a grip on reality.

If you are in the content creation business, different story I suppose. But getting out of a particular business does not require ceasing to use the internet at all.

Other growth rates (4, Insightful)

slapout (93640) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926060)

What is the growth rate of broadband availability?

Maximum? (1, Interesting)

Life700MB (930032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926061)


Maybe almost everybody in the US who could be interested in having an access to the net does have it already, so is logic to think that the percentage of internet users in the US will rise with the time, but slower every year.


--
Superb hosting [tinyurl.com] 20GB Storage, 1_TB_ bandwidth, ssh, $7.95

Increased Productivity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926068)

From all the people like us not reading /. while at work.

Enough with the hand wringing (4, Informative)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926070)

Eventually, pretty everyone who wants a product has it. Those who don't want it, don't get it. Just because internet growth has been expanding by leaps and bounds is not a reason to think it will always be so.

Its like after opening day in baseball when a third of the players in the league are projected to bat .500 with 162 homeruns and 400+ RBIs.

MOD PARENT UP (1)

LeonGeeste (917243) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926216)

There is some serious saturation going on. Originally, there was no internet availability, yet people who wanted it. Now, that number is a lot smaller. You can only involve so many people. I mean, what would we have to do to keep the doomsayers calm? Double the number of blogs again?

Re:Enough with the hand wringing (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926273)

Why not, the entire concept of the most investors in the stock market is based on that premise...which just means investors are idiots.

As amazing as it sounds... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926073)

...I know people who still use ISDN, and others who don't have phones, and some don't even have plasma screens.

plasma screen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926153)

i don't have a television.

Re:plasma screen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926321)

Me I don't even have a computer. I posted this using my psychic powers.

Re:As amazing as it sounds... (1)

Jordi Bunster (724637) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926307)

What do you mean, *even* have a plasma screen? Has the plasma screen become that much of a commodity in the 5 days I've been out of the US?

Re:As amazing as it sounds... (2, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926310)

and some don't even have plasma screens.

Savages!

Commercialization (3, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926075)

My usage has dropped drastically in the last few years, primarily due to the commercialization, ads, scams, pop-overs, etc. I realize that these people need to make money too, but in general, it just seems things have been commercialized to the point of irritation.

There's still lots of interesting stuff out here, it's just getting less worthwhile to look for it.

oh my God (1)

OracleDBA (86361) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926082)

We've seen all the pr0n there is available and it is us.

Absolutely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926083)

"...simply a combination of luddites..."

Oh yes! If you don't want the wonderful, magical internet you MUST be a luddite.

Re:Absolutely (1)

TheBogie (941620) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926203)

If you don't want internet access then yes, you are a luddite. Either that or just not smart enough to gain access to the benefits of the internet. Most probably, you are both.

In 30 years, the percentage of people with internet access will be about the same as the percentage of people with indoor plumbing (99.999 percent). The old people who are afraid of new technology will die off. Those who don't "want" internet access will find it as necessary as indoor plumbing and will get it.

One thing that made me laugh from TFA:

He's part of the 18% of households that, according to the Parks survey, have a computer but aren't interested in "anything" on the Internet. Though Mitchell oversaw his company's tech strategy a few years ago, he never used e-mail at work.

Gee, I wonder why this guy is no longer in charge of his company's tech strategy??

That's me (3, Funny)

swillden (191260) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926090)

I've made a conscious decision to abstain from Internet usage. Don't have it, don't need it, don't want it.

Re:That's me (4, Funny)

caffeination (947825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926165)

Me too. They've been going on about this internet thing like it's the Second Coming for years, and here I am, all these years later, still haven't used it, and I'm fine. I don't see what all the fuss can possibly be about if I can get along so well without it.

Re:That's me (0)

omnilynx (961400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926194)

How did you post this?

Re:That's me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926329)

slashdot.org, didn't even have to go out on the big scary www...

Re:That's me (2, Funny)

Frazbin (919306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926353)

Hoo boy, you're thinking hard. I can smell the wood burning!

  Anyway, I only started using the internet directly a couple of weeks ago. I mean, what choice did I have? Since the telegraph shut down, I haven't been able to cable old Uncle Richie back east to check my e-mail for me, make Slashdot posts, etc. I decided it was time to get on the ol' innernet bandwagon.

    It was inevitable, anyway-- Unc Rich hasn't been too happy about my insistence on up-to-the-minute RSS feeds. I tell him it's a necessity for the information age, but there's just no convincing him.

Re:That's me (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926390)

Magic.

Okay...What's the Problem? (1)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926091)

"Is this simply a combination of luddites and a statistical quirk, or is the Internet reaching its saturation point in the U.S.?"

Maybe it's reached its saturation point because of those "luddites"? There are plenty of people who live as comfortably as they wish without the Internet and have no desire to get it, and those people aren't going to die out for a few decades. Spend some time in Oklahoma or Arkansas.

I kinda wonder why this is supposed to matter. Anyone (with VERY few exceptions) who wants Internet access can get it, either at home or at a library. Just because a few people don't want it doesn't mean the nation's going to fall back to the stone age. I'd concentrate on expanding broadband to more suburbian and rural areas, myself.

Interesting take... (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926204)

Would you say the same about people who do not embrace the automobile or electricity? What about those who do not wish for medical science and instead pray their disease away?

Re:Interesting take... (1)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926308)

Am I supposed to turn pale and say "Oh, that's completely different!" or something?

I'd say that it's their own business in both cases. I guess it sucks for their kids, but it's worth it to avoid a situation where the government forces "progress" on everyone, regardless of whether or not they want it.

Okay...What's the Problem?-It's Hammer/Nail time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926414)

"Maybe it's reached its saturation point because of those "luddites"? There are plenty of people who live as comfortably as they wish without the Internet and have no desire to get it, and those people aren't going to die out for a few decades. Spend some time in Oklahoma or Arkansas."

It's more than just "dying out" that keeping it going. They're being replaced with people to whom the Internet isn't their whole life. The only thing that'll move the adoption of the Internet forward is necessity, and contrary to the geek viewpoint. The Internet isn't necessary for the majority, just nice to have.

Saturation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926096)

If it's a saturation problem I'm guesing it's because of the cost.

Unlike TV where you plop down some cash and get a new toy with no other costs (OK, cable, satellite, but those have there own saturation points too, and it's lower than the total number of people with TV's), the Internet requires yet another monthly subscription (to go along with your phone, cell phone, cable, satellite, gas, electricity, oil, water, whatever...).

When the Internet is free for everyone, then the saturation point will skyrocket. These people that say they don't want it just don't know what it is, if it were free and available they sure as hell would be using it.

Saturation (2)

Electric Eye (5518) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926097)

Anyone who wants Internet access pretty much has it. Besides, there are so many people in this coutnry anyway.

End of discussion. Really.

When is the last time... (2, Interesting)

particle_fizax (883569) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926098)

When is the last time you told someone to google something (most likely to get them off your back) and they said, "Oh, I don't use that interweb thing."

I suspect that the two main reasons for any increase in the number of people using the internet in the US at this point is due to the fact that more people are being born than dying, and likely also has to do with the number of immigrants.

Coincidentally, the numbers on the CIA Factbook give me 1% when taking these things into consideration.

QED???

Re:When is the last time... (2, Funny)

caffeination (947825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926191)

I must say, this is incredibly rude of you. If you'd taken half a second to check the very last comment before yours [slashdot.org] , you'd have seen that the discussion is now over. That means we have to stop posting now. You don't disobey a guy with a UID that low. Not if you enjoy the use of your kneecaps, if you know what I mean.

Re:When is the last time... (1)

Eccles (932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926398)

Oh yeah? Well say we KEEP arguing! Or next time it won't be your furniture I rearrange...

Reasoning based on false assumptions (5, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926106)

It's little wonder that millions of people don't like or trust the Internet. Take Sylvia Goodwin, a 57-year-old assistant attorney general in Tucson. She has a PC at home but no Net service. That puts her among the 31% of households that say they will not subscribe to an Internet service because access at work is sufficient. To Goodwin, the Web is a 21st century manifestation of the world depicted in George Orwell's 1984. As a prosecutor, Goodwin knows how easy it is for Big Brother to gain access to personal information. To her, giving out addresses, telephone numbers, and credit-card information online seems like a surefire way to lose control of your privacy. "If you do everything on the Internet, someone can go in and pick it up," she says.

1984? That's a bit of a stretch. There, the government controlled all communications; I don't think any one government can control the Internet. It's spread across the globe and even repressive governments allow limited access.

Her problem is that she's bought into the media hype over the problems on the Internet. It's not like there are none, but if she's worried about her personal information, does she throw out sensitive documents (pay stubs, credit card bills, etc.) without shredding them? Perhaps she's handed her card over to a cashier, not realizing it's being double swiped [moneysense.ca] . Does she carry on cell phone conversations out in public, blithely giving away personal details anyone in earshot can hear?

The problem is not the Internet, but the people on the Internet, specifically the con artists, scammers, and criminals who now have a new way of fleecing honest citizens. As long as the media contnues to blow every story out of proportion, Internet growth will die out.

Re:Reasoning based on false assumptions (4, Informative)

Ken_g6 (775014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926233)

Likewise, from the end of the article:

Puente doesn't even have a computer at home. That would mean spending close to $1,000, plus an additional $15 to $20 a month for Internet service, not to mention the inevitable upgrades. "You always have to buy some new software to make it juicier," she says. "What kind of juice would I be getting out of it? Nothing."

1. You can get a computer for ~$500.
2. I have internet for $7 a month (going up to $10 after the first year).
3. Aside from software required for school or work, I haven't bought any software in years. There are too many good free/OSS solutions out there!

Re:Reasoning based on false assumptions (2, Interesting)

Rorschach1 (174480) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926360)

And how naive do you have to be to believe that your personal information isn't on the Internet just because you didn't put it there?

Re:Reasoning based on false assumptions (2, Insightful)

jahudabudy (714731) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926399)

The difference between the Internet and your theoretical public phone conversation is ease of access. You probably don't have millions of people following you every day, waiting for you to slip up and reveal something in a public phone conversation. How many scripts you think are floating around, eavesdropping on every unprotected exchange they find? You can walk around revealing personal information in public phone conversations, throw every pay stub out in your kitchen trash, and very easily never pay a price for your lack of vigilance, because no one is actively targetting you for this. On the Internet, EVERYONE is a targe, generally multiple times. The Internet brings economies of scale to what used to be the province of "dumpster divers".

Re:Reasoning based on false assumptions (1)

refeaksew (623061) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926408)

Internet growth will continue to die out as we realize how much of our time we waste reading slashdot comments.

It has to be worth it (4, Insightful)

Control-Z (321144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926117)

The Internet has to be worth it for those:

-Who don't want to get viruses
-Who don't want to get spam
-Who don't want to pay $50 a month for fast Internet
-Who don't want to mess with computers at all

    When someone's computer gets all screwed up with viruses they often buy another computer to work around the problem. Maybe it's time to upgrade anyway, but sheesh that's a big investment just to surf the net.

    The biggest thing that would get *me* off the Internet is the monthly $50 cost. Cable is the only option where I live, and Adelphia won't give us a break.

Re:It has to be worth it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926385)

Who don't want to pay $50 a month for fast Internet

In some areas in the US you can get Internet access (usually DSL) for as low as $15/mo and a year contract. Of course it does require the phone line with it, but when you think about it, $40-50 a month to have phone and Internet service isn't too bad for many people.

Yes (1)

rebot777 (765163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926121)

If you were going to get the internet you would have gotten it by now.

Luddite... (4, Funny)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926142)

From TFA:
""If you're spending all your time on e-mail, you're not listening and reading," says Rogers, who rarely took lecture notes while he was a student so he could listen more intently. "I listen and read; e-mail is a huge distraction.""

Uh, I wonder how he thinks you are supposed to absorb email - osmosis?

Steve

Re:Luddite... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926346)

In their defense, some studies have shown that cell phone and email usage can greatly HAMPER productivity.

Yes, those things can help you be more productive (instant communication), but if they are constantly taking your mind off of a project you are working on because the phone won't stop ringing (ok, stop thinking project A, wrap your brain around project B...now, where was I on project A?), or your email won't stop popping up new messages, I can understand their point of view.

My solution is to learn to ignore the phone when it rings (leave a message - I don't do anything where consequences are life-threatening), and not have my email announce when new messages arrive. I check both when I have the time or inclination to do so.

Re:Luddite... (2, Insightful)

QRDeNameland (873957) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926358)

You don't get it...he's a CEO, he doesn't have to do such time-wasteful frivolities, he has other people to do it for him.

Using the internet is a waste of time, just have others to do it for you and reap the benefits.

Writing things down on paper is a waste of time, just have others to do it for you and reap the benefits.

Cooking food and washing clothes is a waste of time, just have others to do it for you and reap the benefits.

Seriously, somebody who can delegate his usage of the Internet to an underling and then claim it a waste of time is engaging in self-deception, IMO.

Cognitive Barriers (4, Insightful)

RunFatBoy.net (960072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926145)

For whatever reason, when I explain how to do something to my mother, she insists on writing it down in a notebook, step by step. If I try to explain a process with multiple paths to the solution, she tends to get confused quite easily (e.g. you can either click the print icon on the toolbar or go to file->print and select that option).

She is 59.

This is just empiricle evidence of course, but the nature of multiple paths, whether its the computer's interface or the sorting through the billions of results on Google, really seems to confuse the older generation.

In some respects, my mother seems to do better when she one definitive research source, and one path to a solution.

Re:Cognitive Barriers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926274)

I have the same issue. My parents are in their early 60s and live in the Midwest, which I personally belive may be two strikes against them. Choices and multiple functions don't work well for them. I had a very difficult time educating them on the concept of a universal remote, and when they finally bought their first computer last year, (!) I decided to sign them up with AOL (no broadband available) so as to have a relatively easy, limited set of usability options. Even teaching them to get and send e-mail, let alone use hyperlinks, eBay, or Google, was an excruciating experience.

It's not age, it's the unknown (4, Insightful)

alexhmit01 (104757) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926381)

When dealing with a computer problem, I look for 8 solutions. When my wife wants my help with housework, she's learned that the trick is to give me "explicit" instructions, without multiple paths. Likewise, when she is doing something on the computer, once she learns an approach, she normally keeps doing it without considering other options.

It's not about being old or slow, it's about "do you care about this?"

She likes to cook, she'll work on 10 different ways to make a chicken and rice meal. I can make rice, only because she told me what to do once. BTW: while I'm sure there is a way to make rice in the microwave, I've never explored it, and in fact, I use the same pot each time.

If you don't care to "learn" how something works, you develop a process. I have no interest in learning how to cook, so I don't learn options, I just learn what to do.

You are interested in computers, therefore, you find a path. I bet when it comes to laundry, someone taught you how to wash your shirts once, and you've never experimented with different combinations of hanging the clothes to dry or running the dryer, have you? My mom could teach you all the ways to make different types of shirts require more/less ironing and different levels of softness, but I don't care. In college, I memorized settings for each shirt type, and never experimented.

Alex

Solution: Lower ISP Rates and/or provide freeWIFI (2, Interesting)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926152)

This would at least provide an incentive for people to sign up and start using the internet.
Then, you can show them Google, Wikipedia and Slashdot and they may never leave.

Press perpetuates the problem (2, Insightful)

sexyrexy (793497) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926174)

Articles like Businessweek's only reinforce the incorrect perceptions of the ignorant. It would only take one "by the way," sentence in articles like these to help get even a tiny sliver of truth into people's minds - the Net is as safe (or unsafe) as you make it. By getting online, you are not automatically exposing yourself to any dangers you would otherwise never experience. It is what you do with your own information online that creates, or eliminates, security risk.

Re:Press perpetuates the problem (1)

DebianDog (472284) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926362)

Really? How many "seconds" online do you think an non-firewalled, unpatched, Win2000 or XP machine lasts?

Newbies Sold a Bag of MS BGS (2, Interesting)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926175)

Bill Gates is probably personally responsible for the reticence of large numbers of potential Internet users and ex-users.

Between difficult to use features, hardware incompatibilities, non-intuitive settings and choices, then spam, virii, adware, phishing, etc, I have seen people give up on the Internet, because they simply couldn't figure out all of Gates BS.

I switched one friends wife to an iBook, and she (also a newbie) has had little problem, and it makes him a bit envious. He is reluctant to try anything new at this point, as Windows was so hard to deal with.

For the average users it is only one thing that is important: EASE OF USE.

Re:Newbies Sold a Bag of MS BGS (2, Insightful)

sexyrexy (793497) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926190)

Thank God we have a highly visible individual to attach all blame for everything wrong in the world.

Re:Newbies Sold a Bag of MS BGS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926260)

Yep! I'll grab the torches, and you grab the pitchforks, and we will meet at Bill's house.

Re:Newbies Sold a Bag of MS BGS (1)

Frazbin (919306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926394)

You volunteering?

Re:Newbies Sold a Bag of MS BGS (1)

caffeination (947825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926422)

People on Slashdot always seem to add one or two tricks in their List of Bad Things done by Microsoft. It's an obvious Illuminati test of my cognitive abilities, so here goes:
  1. Bill Gates didn't invent phishing (this is actually debatable, but no original research is allowed here on Slashdot).
  2. That's enough cutting insight.
I have family with Windows computers which barely boot, run at a snail's pace, pop up ads at regular intervals, have ad-icons regenerating themselves on the desktop, and are probably reporting all sorts of useful information back to the darker corners of the internet. They know all this, and they continue to use the internet daily, because they are locked in. Their small, insignificant, family-based, lo-tech businesses depend on email and buying shit off eBay and more stuff than I care to remember.

For some reason I am the appointed IT consultant, despite my ignorance in Windows maintenance. Despite their problems, I've been called in, and helped them upgrade their connections, fix their connections, plug their shit in, you name it.

But I'm in England, so Your Mileage Might Vary In Your Inefficient American Cars.

The growth in the use of the Internet is stalling (4, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926176)

Once new applications and uses appear, the growth in the use of the Internet will continue. We've run out of users for the current applications and uses of the Internet. The way to tap into more users is to create more and different things that can be used.

It's expensive to get a good connection (3, Informative)

jdehnert (84375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926189)

It's still costly to get a decent connection. Where I live I have a good ISP that provides quality DSL service with support (unlike ATT/SBC which has what has to be the worst customer support on the planet), but even with all of that I'm paying $60/month for my DSL. Once the long term contracts with ATT expire I'm certain that ATT will 'screw my ISP to the wall' so that I'll need to choose between a $60 ATT line with the worlds worst service, or an $85 (or higher) line from my IPS, or I can get on Comcast's 1000 household per subnet cable connections. The future looks dim.

I have friends who live paycheck to paycheck, and $720 per year for internet access is something they can do without.

Cost (1)

WMNelis (112548) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926226)

SBC / AT&T or whatever they call themselves today keep advertising DSL for $12.99 per month. There is no question that I would subscribe for that amount. However, my neighborhood's phone system is supplied via a fiber line, and there is no DSL equipment on our end. That means SBC / AT&T can not provide DSL to my residence.

I am currently going back to school online so my only choice is to pay $60 per month for Cable access. Once school is done I will no longer have Internet access at home. This is too much money to spend on Internet access in my opinion.

This is too bad because I use it for many things. I use it as a file server to host code examples. I use and update these code examples all the time from work. I also use it to help my father and sister with computer problems they are having by using VNC over an SSH connection. I don't want to give these up, but as I said $60 per month is simply unreasonable.

Re:Cost (1)

realmolo (574068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926377)

$60 isn't that bad. Yeah, it *should* be cheaper. But think of it as $2/day. That's like buying a bottle or two of soda every day, and MANY people do that without thinking about the cost.

If you need it, $60/month isn't a big expense.

One Major reason ... (3, Interesting)

SengirV (203400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926234)

... The fact you STILL can't get High speed access in large portions of the US. I moved around 2 mile about 2 years ago. I used to live THREE miles East of MCI/Worldcom and AOL's world headquarters and I could NOT get HSIA. This was, at the time, the fasted growing county in the US, and I could tell you for a fact that 1/2 the homes couldnt' get HSIA.

This doesn't seem to be the problems with other countries for some reason. I guess their comunications companies actually want to make money on selling internet access, too bad ours doesn't.

When you OWN the politicians, you cna jsut sit back and charge 10 times the amount for similar service in other countries and you don't have to lift a finger to increase your service area. Why do work when you can get the politicians to pass laws allowing you to do nothing to add user access and charge out the wazzoo.

Re:One Major reason ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926378)

Right! I am in a large city but remain on dialup because a) I am too far from the branch office to get DSL service (which is affordable if I could get it) and b) I am unwilling to pay the rates charged by the cable company (too much for the basic cable modem service to begin with and then charge $10 extra per month if you don't also subscribe to cable TV.) The cable modem service was reasonable (as far as price) when it was still ATT@home. Comcast almost doubled the price...no thanks.

I give up on the web (4, Funny)

Cheeze (12756) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926235)

I'm going back to NNTP, FTP, and gopher.

See ya on the flip side

makes sense... (1)

brandon.kilgore (961410) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926244)

It's not that surprising that the increase in the number of users is slowing down, as just about anyone that wants to in the US these days can at least get a dial-up service for almost free. Now instead of worrying about the increase in the number of users, people need to think more about the amount of time spent using the internet, as it becomes more and more a part of people's daily lives.

Saturated or Maturing? (2, Interesting)

mitchell_pgh (536538) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926269)

The "AWE and AMAZEMENT" of the internet is over in the US. The boom days of the late 90's and early 00's are also over... or more to the point... we got what we wanted (email and the web for those that wanted it). From a personal perspective, I use the internet less now than I did 2-3 years ago. I think we are starting to balance out...

Fuc4? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926281)

do, and with any no matter how parts. The current standpoint, I don't Posts. Therefore their hand...she out of bed in the Triumphs would Nsoon politics openly. of an admittedly

Re:Fuc4? (1)

MonkeyDluffy (577002) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926355)

So, you're the one sending me all of that email.

saturation (2, Interesting)

Susceptor (559115) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926293)

The internet is like any other technology in that untimately it's installment rate must slow, and eventually stall. just as there are people in the US who do not own cel phones or have television, there will inevitably be people who will not use the internet. At the beggining of a new market, the main barrier to entry is the kinks in the technology. The people called innovators typically don't care what it costs to get ahold of a new technology because they enjoy the technology for it's own sake. These people are about 5% of the market, and sometimes less. The next set of about 20% of the market are the early adopters who buy into new technology/market because they see a new use for a product or technology. In gaming these are the people we call "hardcore" gamers. To the early adopters the main barrier to entry cost. The minute cost comes down and the kinks in the technology are worked out, allowing for easier user interface, these people jump all over the new product. After them follows the mainstream market which is the bulk of the consumers. people who are not technologically inclined, or particularly interested in anything new. these are the people who bought DVD players 5 years after the technologies release. These are also the people who started going on the net around the time AOL become "popular". To the mass market, cost and practicality are the main issues. the lower the cost, the more of the mass market you can capture, but it is here that the saturation point starts to appear. the late adopters are the end of the road. these are the people who finally bought a VCR when DVD came out and the people who bought their first CD player when MP3 players came out. They are almost always one step behind everyone else, and they need any and all products to be VERY easy to use. Once a company/technology has the mass market, the only consumers left to fight for are the late adopters, who are hard if not impossible to reach. Once you are trying to get these people to use a technology, you know that the market has hit a wall. it appears to me that at least in North America, we have probably reached that point. The older generation of americans who are not already online are very unlikely to get online anytime soon, and the people who just refuse to use technology (late adopters) are so small in number, that even if you get them on the bandwagon, you would still not grow your market by much. So in terms of the current technology it looks like we have hit the wall in the number of users. But that does not mean that this is the limit. New technologies that allow people to connect to the internet indirectly, or through divices other than PC's will expand the nets user-base anyway.

High speed, infrequent use solution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926299)

Does anyone have a solution for people who don't spend a lot of time on the internet, but want high speed periodically, like to check their email once or twice a day? It seems like such people aren't really served by the current model offered by cable/DSL.

Saturation on the coasts maybe, not in the middle (5, Insightful)

Jim Ethanol (613572) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926324)

I live in San Francisco where you'd think the Internet was as pervasive as the air we breathe, and to some degree it is. But I'm originally from Wyoming, (no broke back mountain jokes please) and I can tell you that most people there don't have computers.

What they do have however, is Playstations and Xbox's. The reasons why are numerous. Cost, lack of options, etc.

I believe that the next generation consoles, particularly the PS3, along with Ajaxy Web 2.0 and the continued proliferation of broadband to the home, will truly start to bring the Internet to the masses.

A computer is still intimidating and a tough sell to a lot of these people... but a $300 game machine that your 4 kids are begging for, that's an easy sell.

Once they discover that it has a decent web browser and that there's a whole new world of communication and content out there... then things will start to really grow.

Re:Saturation on the coasts maybe, not in the midd (2, Insightful)

ficken (807392) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926406)

Good point. Computers are intimidating to most end users that I deal with on a daily basis. They are all so afraid to 'mess something up' that most of them do not take full advantage of the services our IT dept has to offer. Having a console that you cannot mess up without physical damage sounds like a better idea to your average end user who wants nothing more than to surf the web anyway. The toughest sell I believe will not be the four to five hundred bucks on the console, but the monthly forty to fifty Mom and Dad will have to shell out. The people that are willing to pay for broadband have it, but those who do not want to spend that money do not. Maybe if the price was right, they would pick it up. This also leads to another question - since broadband access is so widespread now have the prices cheapened enough to bring in those that think it has been too high? My monthly subscription price hasn't dropped...

Regulation plays a roll (1)

dnamaners (770001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926341)

Guess I can't mod this thread now, but it must be a said. Regulate a sector of business and its growth will slow end of story.

Governments, businesses, lawyers isp's, and such are all playing an increasingly complex game of regulation and political maneuvering these days. Much less than in years before. All this extra "stuff" has a cost, it slows the speed of development and growth of most aspects of the service. Primarily due to the extra hoops and liabilities that users must now jump through and avoid.

This once happened with the expansion of the USA into the new unpopulated territories in the west. Before regulation you had true freedom and could do so many things, the resources where there to be tapped and there was little penalty for abusing them. Basically it was a rush to be the best, damn the laws, sense, reason or moderation. As regulation came, so did law order and subsequently slower progress. This maturation cycle is unfortunately unlikely to stop now that the "value" (different depending on who you are, car dealer or government) of the Internet is more or less universally recognized.

Now "they" all want a hand the mix of regulations and laws. All seem to think that net wold be better if ...., and that is the problem. Every one wants to fix than, encourage this, and ban that bad act. The net as we knew ins days past with it's with its free porn and heady freedom is gone, sigh, one more frontier being tamed. That will mean less freedom on the net, guaranteed. Hope this all comes, like the wild west, with improvements in welfare and public safety, but that has yet to be realized.

access at work is sufficient ... (5, Funny)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926356)

According to the article, a significant number of people say "access at work is sufficient."

That's a rational economic decision. 8 hours a day for reading personal email and blogging should be enough for most people.

My Pet Theory (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14926363)

...is that it's not worth the hassle, since ISPs are placing all kinds of restrictions on usage. Read your ISP's TOS and AUP some time. Most of them are surprisingly restrictive, even though they don't enforce them. I'd be running a webserver, and e-mail server and VoIP over my connection, except that my ISP won't extend its high-cap services to my neighborhood (won't upgrade their equipment), and they severely throttle upload bandwidth. The #1 question I get on forums is about hosting files.

The future of the Internet is personal services: Getting the content you want how you want it, and taking the content you have and distributing it how you want. The iPod's popularity should make that absolutely crystal-clear. The average high-speed internet user around my neck of the woods has several PCs, a router and a hub. Network devices like mini-fileservers and web-enabled black-boxes are the next extension to this. Boy, would I love it if I could 'beam' content to a media player in my car from my home network. I would *pay* for this service. I would *pay* for upgraded bandwidth, but my ISP doesn't want the business.

We all want cheap bandwidth and control of our content. Bandwidth bandwidth bandwidth. It's about the bandwidth, guys.

Too expensive (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926364)

For growth to continue, prices need to come down. $20/mo for 1-2mbps shared is the sweet spot IMHO. Cable companies keep the price high while adding bandwidth, they really need a lower tier.

And phone companies? They need to decide that POTS is legacy and offer similar plans, and instead brand themselves as reliable VoIP (bifurcate voice from data)..

(And next week, how to rid the world of all known diseases [ibras.dk] ...)

36% seems high (1)

bigpat (158134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14926407)

I would like to see the breakdown of reasons for not being connected. And how many of those folks that answered the phone didn't think their household was "online" but their kids were dialing into aol when they got home from school. And how many of those people were just using the Internet from their library or school for financial reasons. Or like the guy who didn't check email himself, but had his secretary print out the emails and bring them to him. He was still making use of the Internet at work, just not typing at a keyboard.

And ultimately who the heck cares besides the marketeers for the ISPs? If some people don't want to bother with the Internet, then why is this a problem? Sure Computers could be simpler, but I think if the average computer were more simple (meaning reduced functionality) than it is now, but still as expensive, then a lot fewer people would buy them.

64% of households is a number for the ISPs, for those of us on the web the more interesting numbers would be how many people actually access the web, or email, or some other Internet carried service regardless of the location.

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