Category Archives: internet

Smartphones are only gateway to the internet for some Americans

Read this article at USA Today about how the only internet access for 7 percent of Americans is through their smartphones.  These smartphone dependent users tend to be young, poorer than most Americans, less educated and are minorities.

SAN FRANCISCO — For 7% of Americans, a smartphone is their only readily available option for accessing the Internet, a survey by the Pew Research Center finds.

“Their phone is really their primary access point for all of the things we take for granted in the online space,” said Aaron Smith, a Pew researcher who helped write the report.

Online access has become increasingly necessary merely to function in the world. About 89% of adult Americans use the Internet, previous Pew research has found.

Many Americans use a mix of ways to get online, which can include a computer, tablet or phone at home, at work or through a friend or at a library.

But 7% are what Pew terms “smartphone reliant” — their phone is their only way to get online.

These smartphone-dependent users are younger, poorer, less-educated and more likely to be a member of a minority than the rest of the nation.

Check out the article here.

African American broadband use increases

The number of African Americans using broadband at home has increased by 22 percent from last year.  Overall the use of broadband increased by only a few percentage points from last year but it’s black folks who are seeing the largest increase. That’s good news.

African American Adoption of Broadband Surges

By: Mark Hachman

Although the percentage of Americans using broadband at home increased just slightly from last year, the number of African-Americans reporting access to broadband at home surged by 22 percent, a report said Wednesday.

According to a report compiled by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 66 percent of Americans said they had broadband access at home in 2010, versus 63 percent in 2009. Ethnically, 67 percent of whites reported home broadband; English-speaking Hispanics reported 66 percent; and blacks reported 56 percent.

A year ago, however, 46 percent of African-Americans polled by the organization reported broadband at home, a gain of 10 percentage points, or 22 percent in absolute numbers.

Pew polled 2,252 adults by phone between the end of April and May, including 744 reached via a cell phone. Users were asked to state whether they connected to the Internet via a dial-up landline, or with some form of broadband, including a cable modem, DSL, or wireless, according to Aaron Smith, research specialist with Pew.

When asked why African-Americans reported such a large jump, Smith said that Pew’s research didn’t examine the reason. “But we’ve been picking up on it for a couple of years now; not necessarily with broadband, but with higher levels of engagement with the Internet in general,” he said.

You can read the entire article here at PC Magazine.com.

Internet use increases in the United States

According to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau the number of households with internet access has gone from 18 percent in 1997 to 62 percent in 2007.  Among those with internet access, 82 percent have high speed internet while 17 percent use a dial-up connection.

When it comes to states, New Hampshire, Alaska, Washington (state) and Vermont have the highest rates of internet usage from home, work or public access while Mississippi, Oklahoma, Alabama and Arkansas have the lowest rates of internet use.

Internet Use Triples in Decade, Census Bureau Reports

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that 62 percent of households reported using Internet access in the home in 2007, an increase from 18 percent in 1997, the first year the bureau collected data on Internet use. (See Table 1.)

Sixty-four percent of individuals 18 and over used the Internet from any location in 2007, while only 22 percent did so in 1997. (See table 2.)

Among households using the Internet in 2007, 82 percent reported using a high-speed connection, and 17 percent used a dial-up connection. (See Table 1.)

“As access to high speed connections have become more prevalent, so too have the number of people that connect to the Internet at home,” said Thom File, a statistician with the Census Bureau Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division. “These data give us a better understanding of who is using the Internet and from where.”

Among the states, Alaska and New Hampshire residents had among the highest rates of Internet use from any location (home, work or public access) for those 3 and older in 2007. Mississippi and West Virginia had among the lowest rates of Internet use at about 52 percent. (See Table 3.)

Internet usage also varied by education. For individuals 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree, 87 percent reported going online from any location in 2007. For those with only some college, 74 percent reported using the Internet. About half (49 percent) of those with only a high school diploma reported using the Internet, compared with 19 percent for those without a high school diploma.

Internet usage also varied by race; 69 percent of whites lived in households with Internet use, while the same was true for 51 percent of blacks, 73 percent of Asians and 48 percent of Hispanics. (See Table 2.)

When looking at age groups, the percentage of 18- to 34-year-olds who accessed the Internet was more than double (73 percent) that of people 65 and older (35 percent). Among children 3 to 17, 56 percent used the Internet. (See Table 2.)

You can check out the stats located in the detailed tables page. The Excel link gives a much better reading of the stats.  If you don’t have Microsoft Office Excel on your pc check out the Excel 2003 downloads page where you can download Microsoft Office Excel Viewer.  The latest version of Excel Viewer can be found here.

Blackbird- A new web browser for black folks

While doing my usual web surfing I came across this news item at FoxNews.com.  There’s a new web browser that caters to African Americans/black folks called Blackbird.

blackbird

Blackbird was founded by three black entrepreneurs.

Blackbird was developed on the simple proposition that we, as the African American community, can make the Internet experience better for ourselves and, in doing so, make it better for everyone. Primarily we believe that the Blackbird application can make it easier to find African American related content on the Internet and to interact with other members of the African American community online by sharing stories, news, comments and videos via Blackbird.

In turn, we can provide you with up-to-date information about what’s hot in our community as well as news and user recommendations related to all things African American. So, we encourage you to download and try Blackbird now that it’s available! (Better than 9 out of 10 of the users that downloaded the alpha version the Blackbird Browser continued to use Blackbird as their main browser).

Blackbird is operated by 40A, Inc., a company founded by three African American entrepreneurs, Arnold Brown II, Frank Washington, and H. Edward Young, Jr.

According to the FoxNews article reaction from black bloggers seem to be mixed:

Reaction from black bloggers, tech writers and commenters has been, shall we say, a bit mixed.

“Wait, why do I need a special Web browser?” asked Gizmodo writer Adrian Covert. “Last time I checked, I don’t physically browse the Internet any different than anyone else.”

“The way this browser is marketed, the language, and the very idea that Black people somehow need a different piece of software to deal with the Internet all rubs me the wrong way,” wrote K.T. Bradford of Laptop magazine.

The BlackWeb 2.0 blog was more supportive.

“There is a Black culture and a Black Experience, and this naturally translates online and into any other medium since we are all a part of the human race,” regular poster “Markus” wrote. “In 2008 it is not wrong to want to identify with your culture regardless of what that culture may be or how you choose to identify with it.”

But the angriest reaction came from a commenter on Gizmodo who calls himself “Cordfucious the Ubuntu Walker.”

“I am offended at this,” he posted. “As a Black man in this country I don’t need a browser to help my kids find culturally relevant material… it’s the damn WORLD WIDE WEB… not the Black Web, or White Web or Yellow Web. … It’s s— like this that burns me up. I need to tell my wife (who is Hispanic) that the[y] need the BlackBean browser for the Hispanic community.”

BlackWeb 2.0 interviewed one of Blackbird’s founders.  According to Ed Young:

Blackbird was built using Mozilla technology, which gives the browser a similar look and feel to Firefox. And by default, BlackBird imports all of your Firefox plug-ins. But what makes Blackbird different is its custom add-ons, bookmarks, relevant bookmarks, and themes designed to cater to the Black community.

I haven’t downloaded Blackbird. Right now I have IE and Firefox. I use Firefox about 90 percent of the time cause I was having too many problems with IE.  I  might download Blackbird just to give it a look see.  But Firefox remains my number one browser.

RushmoreDrive

While catching up on my magazine reading this past weekend, I saw this article in the May 19, 2008 issue of Newsweek (yeah I know, I’m really behind) titled A Search Engine Of Our Own  . The seach engine is called RushmoreDrive.  RushmoreDrive is geared towards black internet users but everyone can use it.  Subjects relating to black interests can be found on the first few pages of RushmoreDrive whereas in Google or Yahoo the subject might not be found until you reach page 20 or beyond. 

A Search Engine of Our Own
Most search sites use the behavior of the majority as a proxy to determine what you’re looking for. But what if you’re in the minority?

By N’gai Crol

How many times a day do you Google—I mean, use a search engine? The ritual remains the same: type in some keywords, hit enter and then scroll through a list of links, hoping that what you’re looking for is on the first or second page of results. Still haven’t found what you want by page three? Modify your keywords and start over. By the third or fourth consecutive attempt, you start to wonder, does this thing that I’m looking for even exist, if Google—I mean, a search engine—can’t find it? The difficulty stems from the basic way that many search engines operate, by using the behavior of the majority as a proxy to help determine what you’re most likely looking for. But what if you’re decidedly in the minority? That’s the impetus for the Charlotte, N.C.-based RushmoreDrive, a new Web site targeting black Internet users. The site includes news and employment related options, but its core feature is also its most fascinating: a search engine that tailors its results to the proclivities of the African-American community. “RushmoreDrive is the one place where the black community is actually the majority online,” says CEO Johnny Taylor.

What makes all this possible is a technique Taylor calls “geo-biasing.” Because RushmoreDrive and the search company Ask.com are both owned by Barry Diller’s holding company IAC/InterActiveCorp (Diller himself is a board member of The Washington Post Company, which owns NEWSWEEK), Taylor and his team obtained five years of Ask.com’s search info. That information was then overlaid onto a “heat map” of the United States that showed the concentration of African–Americans in various ZIP codes. With these data, the site has been able to tailor search results to its audience. For example, when users in an area with a large black population, like Atlanta, do a search for “Whitney,” they are more likely to be looking for the singer Whitney Houston or the civil-rights activist Whitney M. Young than for, say, the Whitney Museum, which might be choice No. 1 for users in an area with a large white population, like Boise, Idaho. By using this technique, the folks at RushmoreDrive were able to provide search results on page one that might end up on page 10 on Google—while still delivering a broad array of links that would be typical of a mainstream search engine.

According to the folks at Rushmore Drive:

What is RushmoreDrive?

Launched in April 2008, RushmoreDrive is a first-of-its-kind search engine for the Black community. We deliver a blend of mainstream search results plus a layer of more relevant search results influenced by the Black community. RushmoreDrive is where the Black community goes to find the best search results.

At RushmoreDrive you will also find a feature-rich job networks community where members can create a professional profile, find job opportunities, and create job networks online. RushmoreDrive’s easy-to-use job networking tool will help members unlock the power in their professional connections.

RushmoreDrive News enables the Black community to find news headlines from the entire World Wide Web, including well known Black media, blogs and countless relevant online voices, as well as recognized mainstream news sources.

RushmoreDrive is the starting point and the destination for its users to find what is most relevant to the Black community.

You can also read about RushmoreDrive at USA Today.

I’m glad to see there are more search engine choices out there.  I still like using Google and Yahoo search but I will be adding RushmoreDrive to my search engine list as well.

Does the internet encourage ignorance?

I’ve always wondered if someone would ever write an article about website comment boards.  I saw this article today in the Los Angeles Times about how internet message boards seem to encourage the worst in folks.  I have seen this all over the internet.   On newspaper sites, blogs, celeb message boards, etc., people let the whole world know how racist, sexist and ignorant they can be.

Website comment boards bring out the inner vulgarian

Despite its power to inform and connect people across cultures and time zones, the Internet all too often discourages, or coarsens, a healthy civic discussion.

By James Rainey
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The Washington Post published a smart, thorough takedown Wednesday of the baseless charge that Barack Obama spurned a visit with wounded troops because he couldn’t turn the trip into a public relations coup.

Reporters Michael D. Shear and Dan Balz showed that Obama never planned to take the media to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, putting the lie to charges from John McCain that the Democrat was on the prowl for a cheap photo op.

After reading the Post story online, I ventured to the adjoining public comment board to see how the public was receiving news about the bogus McCain attack. I shouldn’t have bothered.

By midafternoon Wednesday, the washingtonpost.com forum had been flooded with nearly 1,400 messages. A few ventured toward rational discussion of Obama and his overseas travels, but the forum also overflowed with ignorance, profanity, impertinence and racism.

It was just one message board attached to a single story. But it provided unfortunate proof that, despite its power to inform and connect people across cultures and time zones, the Internet all too often discourages, or coarsens, a healthy civic discussion.

It’s hard to say from the few minutes I could stomach of the online forum which of the anonymous contributors deserved the award for Most Offensive.

It might have been Daman1, who described Obama as a backer of Kwanzaa and called the annual celebration of African heritage “a made-up holiday to celebrate the first time Dr. J dunked from the foul line.”

Or perhaps the top offender might have been Dianne72, who complained about “the ‘whitey’ rants of Michelle Shaniqua Obama. Doesn’t she realize that it was whitey’s affirmative action policies that got her where she is today?”

Those gentle souls, with their concocted and racially charged stereotypes, had company from a platoon of other name-callers, including soonipi6, who railed over “the most corrupt, most insidious, most fascist, most criminal collection of Republicans I have witnessed in my 63 years as an American.”

And Thunder2, who scored a high imbecile quotient with just 42 words that painted McCain as a “songbird” and traitor because of the limited statements he made to his captors during 5 1/2 years of brutal wartime imprisonment in North Vietnam.

The problem with Internet discussions at many websites, including latimes.com, is that participants are not required to identify themselves. Many use the veil of anonymity to spew the most vile and inane remarks you can imagine.

One of the things I noticed about these website comment boards is whenever the news article is about a woman or a person of color, it’s like the hatred comes out in full force.  I believe that’s one of the reasons why Yahoo got rid of the comments board that accompanied their news articles. 

Check out the entire article here.

Want some anger with that espresso?

Last week I read an interesting article about a battle brewing over an order of espresso over ice. Apparently a visitor from Brooklyn was visiting Murky Coffee in Arlington and by the end of his visit he was ready to burn the place down. Jeff Simmermon ordered an espresso over ice and was told by the barista that they don’t do espresso over ice. It was store policy. So he accepted a triple espresso and a cup of ice instead. And without a smile from the barista. Well you can read it here:

The drink request Sunday, said Simmermon, who was visiting from Brooklyn, was denied by a barista who told him that Murky doesn’t do espresso over ice. Irked, Simmermon said he asked for a triple espresso and a cup of ice, which he said the barista provided, grudgingly.

Service. No smile.

Then — and this is Simmermon’s account — the barista scolded him, saying that what he was doing to his espresso was “not okay” and that the store’s policy was to preserve the integrity of the drink. The employee said that allowing customers to dilute espresso was not in keeping with said policy.

Coffee-rage moment in 3, 2, 1 . . .

Simmermon, 32, said that he interrupted the barista with an angry blast about how he would have his coffee any way he pleased, thank you very much, and that he told the barista he had his own policy about doing what he wants with the products he pays for. He mixed in a couple of expletives, but that was the essence of it.

Well Simmermon did what any internet savvy person would do. He blogged about it.

In a post on his Web site, And I Am Not Lying For Real ( http://andiamnotlying.com), Simmermon detailed the encounter, his anger and, somewhat befuddlingly, his order at Murky an hour later for the “strongest iced beverage your policy will allow.” He accepted the barista’s recommendation for an Americano with four shots “and light on the water.” (He said he enjoyed it.)

He also posted a picture of the dollar bill he left as a tip, on which he wrote “[naughty word deleted] you and your precious coffee policy.”

It’s amazing what a cup of espresso will cause some folks to do. Is the customer always right? Hell no!! Murky Coffee has a store policy and if folks don’t like it then they should find the espresso of their dreams elsewhere.

Shine on Yahoo

On Monday Yahoo launched a new site aimed at women in the 25-54 age demographic. The site is called Shine. The site focuses on beauty, entertainment, money, health and other important topics that interest women.

Yahoo hopes women take a Shine to site
The Web firm’s new offering focuses on female interests and buying power.

By Jessica Guynn
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — Yahoo Inc. is making a fresh appeal to a key demographic: women.

Launching today is Shine, a Yahoo website aimed at women ages 25 to 54. It will delve into fashion and beauty, entertainment, parenting, work and other areas of interest to women.

Yahoo’s future is uncertain in the wake of Microsoft Corp.’s takeover bid. But the Sunnyvale, Calif., Internet giant is continuing to launch new products in pursuit of advertising dollars. With Shine, it’s banking that its highly trafficked brand, which has created such popular destinations as Yahoo Finance, Sports and News, can make a similar play for women.

Shine will collect content from women’s magazines and bloggers in a one-stop shop with a distinctive voice, said Brandon Holley, who joined Shine as its editor in chief from stints at Elle Girl and Jane. Yahoo’s Santa Monica-based media group is launching it.

“Shine is going to be a magnet for women looking to come to one place to get the best information built for women,” she said.

Women constitute a desirable audience for online marketers in part because they outnumber men. There are 81 million U.S. women aged 18 and older on the Internet compared with 77.8 million men, researcher EMarketer Inc. found.

No more video watching at work

Many companies are starting to block employees from watching internet videos at work. This Wall Street Journal article talks about how IT personnel are noticing how much bandwidth is being used by employees who are watching videos from YouTube, MySpace and other sites.

The New Workplace Rules:
No Video-Watching

By Bobby White

Carriage Services Inc., a Houston funeral-services company, recently discovered that 70% of the workers in its 125-person headquarters watched videos on Web sites like Google Inc.’s YouTube and News Corp.’s MySpace for about an hour a day.

“I almost fell out of my chair when I saw how many people were doing it and how much bandwidth those sites sucked up,” says Jeff Parker, the company’s information-technology administrator. He quickly blocked access to both sites.

Like Carriage Services, companies across the U.S. are starting to prevent their employees from accessing Internet-video services at work. The move follows previous steps by IT departments to shut employees’ access to instant-messaging services, streaming music and Web sites with adult content.

Now, online video has become an increasing irritation. Worker productivity is being jeopardized as short, often low-quality video clips popularized by YouTube are being joined by better-quality video services with long-form content. According to a study released last month by Nielsen Online, an Internet tracking service owned by Nielsen Co., the heaviest consumption of Internet video is during weekday lunch hours between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., when most people are at work.

You can read the entire article here.

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