ClickZStats reports that newly released U.S. Census data shows that 55% of American households (62 million) had a Web-connected computer in 2003, up from 18% in 1997.[1]  --  In the same years, the percentage of adults who say they get news from the Web has increased from 7% to 40%.  --  But the Irish web site Business World reported that a recent survey shows that "Nearly one-third of U.S. Internet users are cutting back on Web usage and 25% say they have stopped buying online due to fears of identity theft and other threats."[2]  --  Then there are the people who refuse to use the Internet at all, KUWS reports on the web site BusinessNorth in Duluth, Minnesota; the piece has the feel of something invented by Garrison Keillor or the Cohen brothers, though.[3] ...


By Rebecca Lieb

October 28, 2005

Sixty-two million U.S. households, or 55 percent of American homes, had a Web-connected computer in 2003, according to just-released U.S. Census data. That's up from 50 percent in 2001, and more than triple 1997's 18 percent figure.

Home Web use continues to skew toward more affluent, younger and educated demographics. Both computer ownership and Web use are lower in households comprised of seniors, among blacks and Hispanics, and among households comprised of people with less than a high school education.

Conversely, nearly all households earning over $100,000 -- 95 percent -- own at least one computer, and 92 percent are online. In homes earning under $40,000, the online figure plummets to 41 percent.

Children have benefited enormously from the growth of home computing. In 1993, only 32 percent of children had access to a computer at home. In 2003, 76 percent of school aged children had access to a home computer, and 83 percent of America's 57 million schoolchildren used a PC at school. Again, these figures skew when ethnic and economic criteria are applied.

In 1997, only 7 percent of adults said they used the Web to get news, weather and spots. That figure spiked to 40 percent in 2003. Those seeking government or health information grew to 33 percent from 12 percent in 1997, and over half (55 percent) used the Web for e-mail and instant messaging, up from 12 percent 10 years earlier. Eighteen percent banked online; 12 percent looked for a job; nearly half sought product and/or service information and 32 percent purchased online, a radical jump over 2.1 percent in 1993.

Of the 45 percent of households without Web access in 2003, the most common reasons given were: "don't need it/not interested (39 percent); and costs too much" or "no computer/computer inadequate" (each 23 percent). Two percent cited Web access elsewhere. Issues of privacy, child safety, and security concerns were rarely cited, each accounting for only one percent of the reasons.

Homes in the West are the most wired at 67 percent, closely followed by the Northeast and Midwest. Southern households had the lowest percentage of online computers at 52 percent.



Business World
October 27, 2005;s=rollingnews.htm

Nearly one-third of U.S. Internet users are cutting back on Web usage and 25% say they have stopped buying online due to fears of identity theft and other threats, a survey has shown.

The survey by Consumer Reports WebWatch, a joint effort of the consumer magazine Consumer Reports and other organizations, found Internet users are less trustful of Websites and have been adjusting their behavior due to what they see as threats online.

Eighty percent said they were at least "somewhat concerned" someone could steal their identity from personal information on the Internet, and 86% have made at least one change in their online behavior. The survey found 30% say they have reduced their overall use of the Internet.

Some 53% said they have stopped giving out personal information on the Internet, and 25% say they have stopped buying things online. Among those who continue to shop online, 29% said they have cut back on how often they buy on the Internet.

Also, 54% of those who shop online report they have become more likely to read a site's privacy policy or user agreement before buying. The report confirmed other surveys that showed eroding confidence in the Internet for commerce due to concerns about identity theft, credit card fraud and security breaches that leaked personal information.

The latest survey of 1,501 Internet users was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. The survey found Internet users were keenly aware of the questions about information security -- with 88% saying keeping personal information safe and secure is very important.

Although fears have increased, overall interest in the Internet remains strong, the survey found.



** Unlikely rebels just say no to the internet **

BusinessNorth (Duluth, MN)
October 29, 2005

Some people won't touch the internet with a ten foot pole. Not everyone uses e-mail or cell phones, either. Mike Simonson talks to these people in the final segment of our series "Netted: On Line."

As the high-tech revolution spins off with something new seemingly all the time, a few people are rebelling against this upheaval.

Even though he spent a lifetime communicating with students, even at one point Chairman of the UW-Superior Communicating Arts Department, Professor Emeritus John Munsell has never surfed the internet. Not until now. His task: Stump the net. The challenge is to find a long lost obscure jazz artist. "Phil Nimmons. Canadian artist out of Toronto. N-I-M-M-O-N-S. He did a piece called 'Prince Edward Island Suite.'" It didn't take long for a search engine to come up with three pages about his subject. But the search has only just begun. He wants to buy the song "Prince Edward Island Suite." "'Buy a recording', maybe it's under that. 'Find a score'? No. I don't want the score."

People who choose to say "no" to the internet aren't necessarily living in caves. Superior attorney Toby Marcovich, former President of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, doesn't use e-mail. He tried it five years ago, but gave it up. "So the time that it took to wade through all the e-mail that was coming in, find the important ones and try to reply to them and then conduct other business at the same time, it just because ridiculous." Marcovich says it's quicker to send a fax or pick up a phone. Phone conversations are immediate with less chance of misunderstanding a text message because he can hear voice inflections. He can have a give and take on the phone. His law practice thrives, but some people don't buy it. "Oh, once in awhile someone will ask me when I'm going to join the 21st century but I can handle that."

The ever-changing technology is no big deal to Gen-X'ers who grew up with computers and the internet. But for others, it can be intimidating. UW-Superior Psychology Professor Gary Sherman says technology isn't always the best answer. In the classroom, in communication, it can stifle learning and imagination. "What's wrong with picking up the phone and saying 'Hi Jill, what you doing?' You never know for sure what's going to come about with that conversation." Sherman says this technological explosion is happening in a culture that is slow to change. So it's an overload. "So yes, some folks are going to embrace change as a challenge and others are going to be frightened by change as that may be difficult to cope with."

Then there's the time factor. People have to do their jobs but don't always have time to learn the latest PowerPoint technique. "At some point we do have to say 'no' to any more learning and say 'I want somebody else to do this for me'." And Sherman says people are afraid of losing their privacy since e-mails and web surfing can be tracked. That's why State Representative Frank Boyle of Superior has never surfed or e-mailed in his life. "Absolutely not. I am totally illiterate. I've had that little mouse in my mealy hand once or twice in my life. Carpal tunnel I will never acquire from my computer skills. Ha!" Boyle admits the computer age may have snuck up on him and left him behind, but he doesn't feel left out. "There are so many interruptions in my life at this point. I want to simplify. I don't want to complicate. I watch Katie my wife deal with a computer failure. My staff all are computer geniuses." So he gets by without a computer or for that matter, without a cell phone. He has no inclination to read blogs as long as he has his radio and newspapers. "There's nothing better in the morning then get the newspaper and sit down with a cup of coffee, my cocker spaniel in the reading chair in the corner of my living room and spend 30-45 minutes. It's certainly one of the most relaxing times of my day. I can't envision myself spending hour after hour looking into a screen, typing things in. I can get on the phone and call people directly. I can have a personal conversation with folks if I want to."

But the internet is rich with information, even for obscure Canadian jazz artists like Phil Nimmons. "Is that it? I doubt it. Let's try a different one. It might be under this one." Sure enough. Not only information but a CD with "Prince Edward Island Suite" on it. "Oooo. There it is. This is recorded back in the late '70's. This is really old. It can be purchased for a mere, oh, $35. But hey, what the heck!"

The entire series "Life Online" can be heard, online of course, at