Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

Internet Lie #1


Everyone is connected. Corollary: everyone is connected by broadband.


Says who? Well, few actually propagate this lie. But if you look at the ads on TV or read comments (online or in books) about the Internet, this lie is clearly implied. And before you accuse me of nitpicking, everyone who talks about the Internet talks about it as a global phenomenon. Let’s see.


First, let’s examine the facts. Current statistics (internetworldstats.com) say slightly over 2 billion people are on the Internet. Sure, that’s a lot. But it’s only a third of the world’s population over the age of 9. So who’s not? We can assume the 1.3 billion illiterates. That still leaves roughly 2.7 billion without connections. In other words, there are more people who could use the Internet and don’t, than those who do.


So who has access? Here are the figures: the developed world is just below 70%, and roughly only 20% in the undeveloped world. Clearly, most of those without Internet reside in the undeveloped world. And we can assume that their access is also a function of their purchasing power. (Why provide access where few can afford it?)


So much for lie number one. And the corollary? Well, you might think the US was number one in broadband. Nope. Try fifteenth—with 26.7 subscribers per 100 inhabitants. Number one is The Netherlands with 38.1 subscribers per 100 inhabitants. One more time: the highest broadband rate in the world is still less than 40%. Hardly everyone. Not even half.


So is it a lie if it isn’t stated but just assumed? I say yes, since the propagators of the assumption don’t want you to know the truth. And that makes it a lie.

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