This is about how the Web is changing our lives. Many people discuss this. I think I deserve a say because a.) I was an early student of Marshall McLuhan, who foresaw the Web and taught us how things would change, b.) I have lived in many parts of the Global Village, hear many voices and receive many messages
The latest from the tech research firm IDC (via Ziff-Davis) is that by the end of 1999 (after we're all partied out) there will be 147 million net users (stations, I think is meant) worldwide. On-line spending will grow 30-fold to $68 billion, equal to the combined GDP of Ireland and Poland. Women are steadily catching up with men (so are minority groups with majority groups) and are expected to surpass them as web users by the end of the year. From other sources, I learn that in India surfers are expected to triple this year to 1.5 million.
This web site (thebeadsite.com) is growing right along with the web and it sure is a ride.
The Web Grows Up
News events are defined by the media through which we receive them. Television might be said to have grown up with the McCarthy hearings and all-news TV with Tienamen Square. If this is true, the Web has taken another step toward maturity.
Early in this section I reported that the biggest web-hit was on 8 July 1997 at the NASA site when Pathfinder started exploring Mars. That record was broken on the day England played Argentina in the World Cup: 73,000,000 hits.
How many hits the Starr report will generate is anyone's guess. I haven't been able to access it yet, but I am not trying too hard. (I do not intend to read 445 paper pages on a monitor, and really don't intend to read the whole thing at all.)
But, being on the Internet, the story of the day was brought to many of us in a new way. There was Candy Crowley on CNN reading excepts directly from a monitor. There was Ted Koppel with a special hour-long Nightline showing us excerpts marked in hypertext. How far we have come how quickly.
Who's on the Internet Now?
The latest Nielsen and CommerceNet study of Internet use shows interesting trends in who is going on-line. More than a third of American adults now surf the Web and get e-mail. Among the fastest growing groups are young adults 16-24, but that's not a surprise. What is astonishing is that other fast growing groups include women over 50, African-Americans and Native Americans.
About 70,200,000 (35%) American adults are on-line compared with 52,000,000 (26%) last September. Some groups have passed the 50% penetration level, including both men and women in the youngest category and Asian-American men. Groups still lagging with only about a quarter penetration, including African-Americans and Native Americans, are among the fastest growing groups.
The Internet has great potential to empower the once powerless. Barriers still exist, but they are dropping. India, for example, has just lifted restrictions on ISPs and the market there (especially via WebTV) is expected to grow tremendously. Cost has been another barrier, but the prices of computers continue to drop and TV-based surfing offers an alternative. Costs for access are still high in some places, including Australia, but this, too will change.
As I have said elsewhere, thebeadsite.com is growing at a very fast rate, over 900% in visitors and hits in the last 15 months. The growing importance of women (the biggest bead customers) on the Internet can only be good for us.
The Internet Booms
Traffic on the Internet is now doubling every 100 days. Three million people accessed it in 1994; 100 million were on line in early 1998. Internet traffic is growing faster than any other communications technology. It took radio 30 years before there were 50,000,000 listeners, TV 13 years and the Internet/Web only 4 years.
More than twice the number of people now purchase online (ten million) than did just six months earlier. Business associated with the information technology is growing at twice the rate of the U.S. economy and is believed to have shaved 1.1% off the inflation rate, which now stands at 2.0% rather than 3.1%. The sector employs 7,400,000 Americans in some of the best paying jobs. By 2002, an expected $300 billion will be conducted over the Internet.
These amazing statistics were released by the U.S. Commerce department in a report entitled "The Emerging Digital Economy," one of the most comprehensive on the subject.
In a related story, the Dallas Morning News reported that the Secure Computing Corporation viewed more than 288,000 Internet addresses used by people at work. Only 58% of the visits were to work related sites. The most popular? A whopping 30% were visits to sex sites. Bead sites were in third place.
Latest Web Use Profile
While not strictly comparable with some earlier estimates, the latest figures from Relevant Knowledge, Inc. of Atlanta shows a total of 55,400,000 Web users in the U.S. over the age of 12 in January 1998. This represents an increase of ten million from August 1997, or a growth rate of nearly 25% in four months (but see preceding story).
The demographic breakdown shows a continual increase of women users, now 43% of all surfers. Business users account for36% of the total. In age, the 18 to 34 year old group is now matched by the size of the 35 to 49 year old group, both accounting for 38%.
Shopping on the Web has grown even more. A quarter (24%) of Internet users shop on-line. The growth rate for some retail categories is phenomenal. In the last nine months, those who bought airline tickets went up 301%, stocks and mutual funds by 291%, computer hardware by 111%, car rentals by 105% and books by 94%.
The most popular sites continue to be Web related. Yahoo is number one, followed by Netscape, Microsoft, Excite, Infoseek, AOL, Geocities, Lycos, Altavista and MSN. Thebeadsite.com is, of course, number 11.
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