Throughout the upcoming weeks I will bring you to the cutting edge of the Internet, directing your attention to emerging technologies, new trends, and important information BEFORE it hits the papers or makes news.
The Weekly Business Internet Report is geared to the Internet user and prospector alike. When I can I'll paraphrase important information as well as give relevant e-mail addresses and URL's.
For anyone who hasn't already, I encourage you to get connected to the Internet, even if it is just on a personal level. There is so much happening so quickly that the best way not to be left behind is to hop on that information highway. Once connected, I recommend everyone get a copy of the newest Netscape browser, Netscape 1.1N. It is quickly becoming the standard for the Web, and many sites can't even been viewed by other browsers.
In this issue I will take a look at Demographics on the Internet, examine some of the different sources online and capsulize some key points of some of the articles. I'll also take a look at a new free stock service that has just come on line, and a television show that is breaking the barriers of conventional television.
With an increasing number of companies looking at doing business on the World Wide Web, an immediate need has been created for some hard demographic numbers. A few major reports have surfaced to try to address this issue. Each of them takes a stab at the insurmountable task of attempting to pin down exactly what is happening on the Internet. These reports range from general industry analysis, attempting to track the phenomenon of the Internet and the World Wide Web, to more ambitious quantifications of precise demographic information.
JP Morgan has one of the best general industry overviews. It is written in a nontechnical way and takes a look at the Internet from the same point of view that a company or investor would when assessing the benefits of getting on the Web. The report, "The World Wide Web Globally Connected,Plain and Simple (An Industry Analysis)", concludes:
-The World Wide Web is where the action is on the Internet.
-The growth of the Web is dramatic.
-The World Wide Web is dramatically changing the way information is shared and accessed.
-The Web provides a world of possibilities for pursuing content and commerce.
-The market's dynamics are significant.
I tend to put more stock in general overview reports like the JP Morgan report. There are some major problems with demographic analysis over the Internet that can skew some of the statistics. Many of the demographic reports are conducted over the Internet, some of them by e-mail surveys (a blind blanket of the Internet), some by forms that could be filled out over the web, and finally some which rely solely on the reporting of companies who visit their site. I tend to take these demographic reports with a grain of salt, the general trend of the Internet seems more easily quantifiable. The Internet is growing at such an exponential rate that demographic reports are like tracking shells on a beach: when you go back to compare the data with the shells, you come back to a completely different beach.
Having said all that, the most notable demographic survey is the one conducted by The Georgia Institute of Technology's Graphics, Visualization, & Usability Center (GVU). Although the GVU's survey isn't perfect it does benefit from a sizeable pool of 13,000 respondents. The survey has been conducted three times now, each time refining the process a little more.
Some interesting key points of the survey are:
- Average age across all users was 35.01 years old (median:
35.00 years old).
-Overall, 15.5% of the users were female, 82.0% male and 2.5% "Rather not say!". The actual numbers are 2020 women, 10668 men, and 318 non-responses.
-The overall median income is between $50,000 and $60,000 US dollars,with an estimated average income of $69,000.
If you are not satisfied with simple trends or demographic head counts, check out the survey done by a company called Stanford Research Institute (SRI). Don't let the name fool you, although they were founded in conjunction with Stanford University they have since broken off as a fully independent non-profit organization. SRI's report explores the psychology of people's choices and behavior on the Web over the statistical demographics. SRI breaks down the users of the Web into psychological types (I.e. Actualizers, Strivers, and Experiencers), and then attempts to project the impact of the various types on the Web.This psychographic approach is interesting, but I don't find it particularly useful. I have found the best barometer of people's choices and the reasons behind them come from talking to people I do business with, wait in line at the grocery store with, or maybe even from older relatives. My methods might not be incredibly scientific, but with something as big as integrating interaction into a new form of mass communication I don't think there is any substitute.
When your sick to death of reading surveys and are ready to try something a little off-center, check out the Internet Index by Open Market. This bi-monthly index gathers together facts and figures from a wide variety of sources. I particularly enjoy it because it doesn't take itself all to seriously. You might find statistics like:
-Growth of WWW traffic in 1993: 443,931%
-Growth of WWW traffic in 1994: 1713%
Alongside ones like:
-Number of tennis Grand Slam tournaments on the World
Wide Web: 1
-Estimated average speed of traffic on I-5 in San Diego at 12:01 AM today: 68
You heard me right, stock quotes by E-mail for free! I don't know how you might be checking your stocks: Online Service (AOL, Compuserve),Networth , Pawws or (gasp) even the newspaper, but there's nothing like having them e-mailed to you at the end of trading. The free stock quotes by e-mail service is provided by Bozeman Technology Incubator. To sign up all you have to do is send an e-mail (with the subject and body blank). Bozeman will e-mail back instructions on how to use the service which can be accessed completely by e-mail. The setup is so easy it takes almost no time. To set up a portfolio all you have to do is send another e-mail, filling in the subject with the word SHARES followed by your stock symbol and the number of shares you want track: (SHARES sym1 num1 sym2 num2... ). The basic stock quotes are free and Bozeman Technology will soon be offering other financial services like historical stock data,Canadian and European exchanges, options, and commodities for a modest fee.
Ready for the next step in television? Check out C|net Central, the first combined Television/ World Wide Web show. Hosted by Richard Hart (who also hosts The Next Step) and Gina St. John, this half hour show breaks the bonds of its time slot with a round-the-clock presence on the Internet.
C|net focuses on new and interesting developments on the Internet and in technology in general. The show and Web site work hand in hand to compliment each other, each containing unique as well as supporting information. C|net the show is an easily digestible half hour of fun and information. With the support of its Web site, C|net the show doesn't inundate you with information: if you want to hear more about any particular subject then you can get it online.
C|net's Web site provides a number of resources in addition to information supporting the show. Among these resources are: a daily news area, where the day's breaking industry news is reported; a virtual software library, where you can search a specific file on some of the major ftp sites; and finally the C|net 100, a great collection of reviews and information on 100 of CD's you just can't live without.
On this week's show C|net did a report about new chat technologies which allow users to chat and interact in a three dimensional world. The television program showed the new technologies and spoke of programs like Worlds Chat. The Web page has more in-depth information about the technology as well as specific links to the programs like Worlds Chat.
In addition to the show and Web site, C|net Central also sends out a mailing list called Digital Dispatch, which lets you know what's going to be on the upcoming television show as well as what is new on the Web site.
(You can catch C|net Central on the USA Network: Saturday 9:00 a.m., Sunday 6:30 a.m., Tuesday (Monday night) 1:30 a.m)
The Bi-Weekly Business Internet Report copyright 1995 by Geoffrey Kleinman The information presented here may not under any circumstances be resold or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from Geoffrey Kleinman Publication, product, and company names may be registered trademarks of their companies.