Statistics: The naked truth

The 2001 Census asked some pointless questions, but none so ridiculous as a recent poll which asked if we surf the Net in the...

The 2001 Census asked some pointless questions, but none so ridiculous as a recent poll which asked if we surf the Net in the buff.

Like many of you I am awaiting the 2001 Census results with some trepidation to see if Jedi is classified as a widely followed religion in England and Wales - well that's the denomination I went for. Sad to say, it looks like it could be some time into next year before any results come out, thanks to the total lack of alacrity shown by the Census Office's IT system, and by then I might have gone back to apathy-ism on the religious front. Frankly, unleashing the seven dwarves with half an abacus each would have brought out a swifter set of results.

One area of polling which isn't slow off the mark is that which focuses on the habits of Internet users. Can there have ever been a group of people who have been surveyed so often? Not to mention the endless projections about the market that are about as spot on as an England penalty shoot-out effort.


Revealing results
Even the Sun newspaper is getting in on the act with a survey which 'reveals' that up to a third of people "surf the Net naked". Perhaps they think they're on the beach.

This underscores the subliminal message, propagated by the tabloids, that somehow anyone who uses the Net is some kind of commie paedophile pervert. And if they're doing their commie perverting electronically and in the buff, well Sun readers shouldn't be surprised should they? Which begs the question - what percentage of Sun readers read the rag in the nude? Only those driving white vans, perhaps.

In fact, as us insiders know, surfing the Web is now pretty much a mainstream activity. This is borne out by another survey, from Jupiter MMXI (that's two thousand and eleven for those of you still counting in Roman numerals), which claims that more than 33 million Britons used the Internet between April and June this year. On the face of it that's just over 50% of the population, but, if you take
out babes in arms, the very elderly and Neil and Christine Hamilton, then we're heading for 80% of those who can, are doing. Somehow I think not.

These stats show that wireless application protocol (Wap) truly has been crap in terms of technology take off. Over 93% of all UK Net accesses were from a PC, either at home or at work, with hardly anyone using a WAP phone to get the footie scores or whatever. Clearly bad news for Mr and Mrs Vodafone.

One stat that stands out like a non-millionaire in the Arsenal back four, is that it is not 'dem yoof' who are the major Web-aholics. According to Jupiter it is the 35-49-year-old age group that is 'the biggest Web audience', followed by the 50-plus bunch, with 'dem yoof' trailing in third place. And no, I don't want to think about 50-plusers surfing in the buff either.

If these surfers are doing it bare-botty style, then it's unlikely to be at work, where Jupiter estimates that 44% of workers currently share their PC with three or more people.

Whatever - surfing the Web is clearly more popular than organised religion and Jedi, and electronic interactivity is drawing more folk into its web. Not only is this evident on the Net, but also on 'normal' TV where 'reality' television - pace Big Brother - is pulling in the punters on the old 'you, the audience, decide', kick. Put the two together and a pretty powerful draw is created. Yes, we're in the domain of the interactive reality TV game, coming to a website near you.

First out of the blocks is likely to be Survivor which played big in the States but not here. Players can cast themselves as a character, determine their own role in the 'tribe,' and choose 10 'essential' skills. Ha-ha - well for starters it's keep the top totty, and the blokes who can tell a joke and know their footie. Good night Vienna and game over.

For those of you who want to know a bit more try theglobe.com which joined the dotcom fallen on August 15, but which has some useful games links.

Can it be less than three years ago that theglobe.com was capitalised at almost
$1bn? And can it be less than two years ago that founder Stephan Paternot told Vanity Fair magazine just how appealing he and co-founder Todd Krizelman are (read 'were')? As in 'Todd and I are good material to be shown around. The downside is you get stalkers, proposals, and love letters.'

Yes it can.

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