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Re: <eyebeam><blast> Pedantry on numbers

Without getting bogged down in statistics, Alan's claim that there are
101 million people on the net needs a response. It's far more likely to
be at July 1997 between 21 and 33 million world-wide (methodology given
below). For a long time the basic statistics of cyberspace were
unavailable, leaving the field open to industry-driven hype, but within
the last year enough reliable figures have become available to avoid
such claims. Statistics such as 100 million often pass without a
comment, but discussion needn't be based on the more optimistic views
derived from an industry desparate to prove just how big it all is.

One further pedantry before we get carried away with the flip side to
'how big it all is', which is 'how quick it is growing', is to note that
the rate of growth of the Internet slowed dramatically between July 1996
and July 1997. In the previous three years the Internet (measured by
Lottor's host count) had doubled in size each year, but in July 1996-
July 1997 it increased by 50%- still growing quickly, just not as

For the Pedantic (like me :-))Methodology; One place such large
estimates as  101 million come from is NUA's attempt to estimate
world-wide 'connectedness' (see
http://www.nua.ie/surveys/how_many_online/index.html, for an example)
but there are others. All involve a large amount of 'guesstimate'. A
more accurate number is available by taking Mark Lottor's host count and
multiplying it by an estimate of users per host (itself obtained from a
number of phone surveys that appear to employ reasonably sound
methodologies, such as O'Reilly and Associates or Find/SVP). Add these
numbers together for the July 1997 host count and you get either 21 or
33 million Internet users. This may be different to Alan's 'connected to
the net' but I think is a solid definition. There is a new host count
due any day now, and that will provide an update.

Brett Stalbaum <beestal@pacbell.net> wrote:

>>Deprivation and lack of access seem to be local issues.

Tglatz <tglatz@mosquitonet.com> wrote:

>Isn't it [CHOOSE ONE:  ironic/absurd/rather disgusting]  that
>deprivation and lack of access are always "local issues" when the
>responding doesn't have a problem  "getting" access?

Particularly a problem when the Internet is so dominated by those who
can get access easily. USA/Nafta and Europe have 87.5% of all Internet
hosts. The next best is Japan and SE Asia which have 6.5%. Areas like
sub-Saharan Africa have only .59% (120,805 in all) of the planet's
Internet hosts and of these 97% are in South Africa, Australasia/South
Pacific has 4.2% of all hosts but 99.9 % of these are in Australia or
New Zealand. (Pedantic methodology for these numbers is available!)

A further problem of assumed bias becuase of the particular nature of
Internet users is the language bias of the Internet. 75% of all hosts
exist in english speaking languages and many of the Internet's elements
assume english as the standard language not just in the content of
communication but also in the software needed to make communication.
ASCII may have provided a common standard to allow swift expansion but
it also enshrined the dominance of a certain language and, as Frantz
Fanon wrote,

‘To speak means to be in a position to use a certain syntax, to grasp
the morphology of this or that language, but it means above all to
assume a culture, to support the weight of a civilisation.’

Tim Jordan

Tim is in Melbourne, Australia until July 1998, when he will be back in
His virtual home remains t.r.jordan@uel.ac.uk before, during and after
his stay in Melbourne. All mail sent to t.r.jordan@uel.ac.uk is
automatically forwarded to him. You can use the email address on this
email but remember it expires at the end of June 1998.
Snail mail can be sent to HPS, University of Melbourne, Parkville 3052,
Victoria, Australia, again until June 1998.

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