Sunday Morning, I was reading an article in my daily NY Times on-line technology Bits section about “how many many web services can one person use?”. They were really talking about web apps and social networking sites. There were bunches of comments about how people use these sites, and how many they feel is enough, or too much – Great! To the Point! – OH, Wait! What’s this? A comment who’s 1st line says “the vast majority of the uses of the internet are entertainment…”
To be fair, here is the entire comment (as written, completely un-edited by me despite the tremendous temptation):
The vast majority of the uses of the internet are entertainment…
With the financial crises the easy money is gone and a significant percentage of these entertainment services will not find enough dollars to pay for their bandwidth within just a few months…
In fact much of what passes for popular culture is under financial stress and will not survive the coming financial storms… When people start missing on paying the rent, they will not be keeping high speed internet and an I-phone under contract…
Another issue is the ‘grownup’ who uses the net… I am one of those old folks who is actually competent with a PC… I was writing machine language code before most of the facebookers were born… While I use computers heavily every day for a number of things, some of them quite technical and arcane to the average web dweller, none of what I do is on a social network… I have enough friends, thank you… I am not looking for groupies to go get stoned with… I am not cruising for casual sex… I don’t have an avator… And I am not gaming with 12 year olds from Australia and Japan… I have disposable income… Best be that the internet businesses pay more attention to folks like us than they have as we continue to spend, even during financial hard times…
Now, you know this set me off! What rock did he crawl out from under??? What planet does he think the internet comes from? The Planet of the Porn King? or the Valley Girls??? Has he ANY clue what the ‘net is about? Sounds like he’s never tried to shop on-line (like with OnlineAuction.com – the true face of Cyber Independence!!) or even find a support group for “elderly neanderthal brained techy snobs”.
So, as ususal in these cases (yeah, this happens now and again, seemingly with ever increasing frequency…) I spend way (and I do mean WAY) too much time Sunday crafting a relatively cogent rebuttal of his little tirade – the Bits editors must have thought it was appropriate and coherent, because they published all of it.
Here is my rebuttal to Dr O Butthead (With apologies to you other Buttheads who don’t share these opinions and don’t wish to be identified with Dr Butthead’s comments):
I believe Dr. O has totally missed the boat. Daily, plenty of us “grown ups” are here on the ‘net for eCommerce, business, communication, & information. I’m not sure where he got the idea that “the vast majority of the uses of the internet are entertainment”, but I beg to differ. Looking “for casual sex” or “gaming with 12 year olds” – WHAT???. In our house, my 78 yo retired pastor father does genealogical reseach, home-schooled 12 yo son has a vast world-wide library of knowledge (no gaming), and husband monitors bank balances & bills, researches new cars, medical info & computer-based CME. At college, 21 yo son is a pragmatic ‘net user; IM allows group conversations while doing technical computer work.
In my practice, I look up drug & diagnostic data, patient education info & referrals, plus business email, CME & participating in Sermo, problem solving networking site. Most docs use electronic billing; soon MC/MC will require on-line medical records for provider sharing. My cell phone is critical; I don’t use an office land-line & am almost always on-call.
I’m partly disabled & use “couch” time for my on-line business: HTML app programming, listing, cross promoting, networking, …it’s known as “viral marketing”, the new face of eCommerce. With 3 Stores, a blog, personal web site, RSS feeds, the social site kaboodle is just another marketing tool. I have real friends with similar talents, background & interests on-line; we support each other, cover each other when we’re sick, & have great conversations about anything & everything. It is a small group, but they are as “real” as my local friends; plus I can keep contact with face-to-face friends if I’m too sick to socialize.
Computer maintanance requires a knowledge of underlying processes & structure plus lots of visits to tech sites for fixes & patches. Dr O grossly underestimates the tech knowledge of “the average web dweller”. Access to high-speed internet can be as low as $8/mo in places. People aren’t going to give it up when money gets tight; they’ll use it to buy essentials cheaply.Even homeless people can go to the library and use the ‘net.
My background is “computer rich”: fortran with punch cards in college, graduate thesis on Apple II while pregnant with my 1st child, & work as an information professional & database programmer. But “the next generation” has us baby boomers beat.That 1st child had computers in kindegarten & got her 1st pc when she was six. Today 3 pcs and 2 LTs in the house for 5 computer users, (& in their apts, daughter has PC & mac, older son has PC) and all our peripherals: iPod syncs with iTunes, cell phones access the web, web cam and digital camera provide almost instantaneous sources of video, 160 gB external drive holds millions of megapixals for photo storage.
At 24, my daughter is tech-savvier than any of us. She has a complex web site, etsy store, pod cast, & a presence in a virtual world. Drawing on her art tablet & IM are like breathing. She’s fluent in HTML, Java and who knows what else. She’s made great friends, male & female, all over the world; she gets to meet some at anime/sci-fi cons. (I’ve met several). At her science & math HS, she learned vidio editing/production; has produced several anime/music videos. She’s not a “computer potato” she’s a forester! She handles “high tech” aspects – training techs in the field to take GPS data from timeberlands, collating data, mapping, presenting data to corporate clients. Next year she’s going to school in environmental law, forestry & public policy. She uses NO social networking sites; she used the word “despise”.
Dr O, I hope I’ve shed some light on how a huge number of people are using the ‘net. Social networking sites are only one phenomenon in a complex on-line world. Like other web apps, survival of the fittest will prevail. The ones that are the most useful will survive. The silly ones will fade as their users out-grow them.
Probably make no difference at all to Dr O. For all I know, he printed it out and used it to line a bird cage – if he even bothered to go back and read any more comments – he sounds like a guy who doesn’t want to be confused by the facts…. But I sure felt better knowing that, some where some place, someone might actually read my comment and say “Boy, is she right or what???”
(and then share it with their FaceBook, Digg, Twittr, Stumble, MySpace, etc etc friends
and I’ll be famous! BAWAAHAAHAHAHA!)
Oh, Um, Sorry. Tried to keep that in. Nevermind.