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Editor's Note

It's An internet World Out There

University Business, Jan 2005

You will notice in this issue that we have a number of feature articles on web-related topics and issues. Contributing writer Rebecca Sausner reports on how to tame your growing web infrastructure. UB Associate Editor Alana Klein discusses why you should pay more attention to your website because it is a main vehicle to increase recruitment. Contributor Elizabeth Crain examines how the internet is getting much better at delivering rich media--audio, video, and content. And contributor John Otrompke reports on web based e-commerce applications that can save you time and money, and increase efficiencies by conducting business online.

Funny, when we put together our annual editorial calendar back in June, I didn't purposely look at this issue as an internet-specific issue; I was thinking more about the business applications and solutions that were germane to higher ed, rather than the delivery mechanism--the internet. And after editing each article it dawned on me that I have begun to just take the internet for granted.

It wasn't that long ago that the word internet was always capitalized by the print media, as was the world wide web. In fact, my spell checker still recommends that I capitalize both. Today, the internet is as ubiquitous as the telephone, err, make that cell phone--all part of growing and diverse information pipelines and gadgets that connect citizens of the world to one another.

I read somewhere that the internet was the fastest globally adopted technology in the history of civilization. Today, out of the 6.3 billion people scurrying around the planet, some 812 million-plus use the internet. That's about 12 percent of the global population. The U.S. ranks first in internet users, with more than 200 million people logging on, followed by China with some 87 million people cruising the information highway. Japan, Germany, the U.K., South Korea, Italy, France, Canada, and Brazil round out the top 10.

Surprisingly, three of the top 10 countries with the highest percentage of their population using the internet are Scandinavian, with Sweden garnering the top spot, followed by Iceland at number four and Denmark ranking number nine. I assume many Scandinavians huddle around the fireplace with their laptops during winter nights searching for cheap vacations to the Caribbean. Hong Kong finished number two on the list. Maybe being a financial capital of the East has a lot to do with internet usage. Canada and Switzerland rank numbers seven and eight respectively.

None of you need statistics to document the fact that students are the power users of the internet in the U.S., and throughout the world. The internet to a student is what a Swiss army knife is to a hiker--an indispensable, multifunctional tool that performs many tasks.

Some 79 percent of college students polled said the internet has had a positive impact in their college academic experience, according to a report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, Considering that the study results were released in 2002, I would guess that the percentage is much higher today.

Some 86 percent of college students have gone online, compared with 50 percent of the general population. Again, I gather to project that the percentage of students utilizing the internet today is up to 99.9 percent, save for a few renegade philosophy majors who are quite content with books and the library, thank you.

Here's an interesting statistic. The survey found that 74 percent of college students use the internet four or more hours per week, while about 19 percent use it more than 12 hours per week. This is somewhat higher that the amount of time most students devote to studying: Nearly 62 percent reported studying for classes no more than seven hours per week, while only 14 percent reported studying 12 or more hours per week. If I can use my college son as an example, he studies and is on the internet at the same time. He calls it multi-tasking. I call it a distraction. How, I inquire, can one read (I won't even use the word absorb) a textbook, carry on instant message conversations, listen to downloaded music, while constantly checking his bids on e-Bay--all at the same time?

He doesn't respond verbally. He just tosses a blank stare that says, "That's my world." Indeed it is.

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