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30% of Americans Aren't Ready For the Next Generation of Technology 191

Posted by Soulskill
from the controlling-potatoes-with-your-brain dept.
sciencehabit writes: "Thanks to a decade of programs geared toward giving people access to the necessary technology, by 2013 some 85% of Americans were surfing the World Wide Web. But how effectively are they using it? A new survey suggests that the digital divide has been replaced by a gap in digital readiness. It found that nearly 30% of Americans either aren't digitally literate or don't trust the Internet. That subgroup tended to be less educated, poorer, and older than the average American."
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30% of Americans Aren't Ready For the Next Generation of Technology

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @06:25PM (#47364239)

    technology is always progress, and never, ever, going backwards in any possible way.

  • Funny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sootman (158191) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @06:28PM (#47364265) Homepage Journal

    Because in my circles, it's the smart people who don't trust the Internet.

    • Your comment is way funnier the way you put it, but I trust the Internet as a transmission medium -- so long as I'm using solid encryption. Unfortunately, between reports of NSA backdoors in NIST encryption algorithms, and SSL bugs, "solid" has become a somewhat relative term.

      Excuse me. Time to fire up my Tor client over OpenVPN using pufferfish through an SSL tunnel.

      • by fisted (2295862) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @08:46PM (#47365153)

        I trust the Internet as a transmission medium -- so long as I'm using solid encryption.

        So you do not trust the Internet as a transmission medium.

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        Your comment is way funnier the way you put it, but I trust the Internet as a transmission medium -- so long as I'm using solid encryption.

        Isn't that true of any transmission medium?

        • by Wootery (1087023)

          Isn't that true of any transmission medium?

          I vaguely remember reading about the idea of encoding a bit into exactly one photon, and the possibility of using this to create a scheme where snooping could always be detected.

          Annoyingly, I forget the details, and Google didn't turn up anything relevant looking.

    • Re:Funny (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @06:34PM (#47364309) Homepage

      There's a difference between blindly trusting random crap you find on the Internet and not ever using it at all.

      At least in my circles, the truly smart people fit into neither category. That said, if you must pick one or the other ... the latter is preferable.

      But that's a false dichotomy ... even better is being able and willing to find things on the Internet, but having the wisdom to tell what's crap and what might be crap (and therefore needs to be confirmed) and what's probably accurate (but keep in mind, it still might not be.)

      • Re:Funny (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @06:54PM (#47364483)

        It's not just about information you find. It's also about the technology itself.

        Computers these days come with browser that have default-enabled Javascript, Flash, Silverlight, Unity[1], Java, and who-knows-what-else. You can get 0wned just by clicking on a link, even an advertisement on an otherwise legitimate site.

        Some people are fluent in computers, and trust them. Other people are wary because they don't understand comptuers. But, experts are wary because they do understand computers.

        [1]Unity Web Player didn't exist back when I switched from Windows to Linux, so actually I don't know how prominent it is today.

      • Re:Funny (Score:4, Funny)

        by vandelais (164490) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @06:54PM (#47364487)

        You must be new here.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is why I laugh so hard at the guy at work, who refuses to write procedures or tools to do critical tasks. "Just look it up on Google" is his answer to everything.

        It's most fun when he looks up the answer on Google, claims he has it, and I explain that he doesn't have it. He argues, and I make him scroll down to who actually *wrote* the top answer that Google provides, and show him where he misread what I wrote there.

        This.... just makes my day when it happens. It happens less often now, he's learned to

      • having the wisdom to tell what's crap and what might be crap

        Reminds me of an article I read about seagulls, both parent birds spend up to two years teaching their offspring what they can and can't eat at the local tip. Despite their efforts a significant number still die trying to eat plastic bags, batteries, bottle tops, etc.

      • Re:Funny (Score:5, Insightful)

        by argStyopa (232550) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @09:17PM (#47365305) Journal

        My kids' school, they ban using Wiki for research.

        (Personally, I'd think that a perfect jumping-off point for teaching the difference between primary and secondary sources, critical reading, and source evaluation. But hey, what do I know, I'm not a teacher.)

        • by pooh666 (624584)
          This needs mod up.. This is the most important thing to learn.
        • Re:Funny (Score:5, Interesting)

          by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Wednesday July 02, 2014 @01:47AM (#47366469)

          My kids' school, they ban using Wiki for research.

          (Personally, I'd think that a perfect jumping-off point for teaching the difference between primary and secondary sources, critical reading, and source evaluation. But hey, what do I know, I'm not a teacher.)

          Uh, they probably ban it because it's a secondary source. You are fine at using it for a jumping off point, but that's all you can use it for - to jump off.

          You're not using wikipedia for research, you're using it for the background in order to do research.

          And it also means you don't copy and paste Wikipedia and hand it in )adding plagiarism to the all sorts of badness).

          Because you know kids would. Banning it probably is easier to describe to them, but any smart kid would just use it anyways and hide the fact that they used it by going to the original sources. *gasp* Research!

          It's the same as it was back in the old days where we were banned from using the encyclopedias. No one said we couldn't do it on our own time and then use the references in our final work...

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            What's hilarious about this to me is that I have yet to attend a educational institution that has access to a REAL selection of primary sources. If you were to try to check the works cited on a wikipedia article as a member of the general public and not as an ivory tower acedemic then you would encounter countless confounding paywall obstacles, and probably eventually end up on #icanhazpdf, or putting ~$400 in .pdfs on mommy and daddy's credit card. Total time reading that $400 worth of Adobe Acrobat? ~45 m

            • by Khashishi (775369)

              The most outrageous thing is sometimes they want to charge you $35 to download a scan of an abstract. An abstract!

        • by gsslay (807818)

          Saying "Wiki" when you mean "Wikipedia" is like saying "internet" when you mean "slashdot".

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          > My kids' school, they ban using Wiki for research.

          So? In my day, dead tree encyclopedias were banned for research.

          All you have there is an old rule from the dead tree era applied directly to it's online counterpart.

      • I'm more concerned about my searches - looking for things on the internet scares me. What you search for can define what you're thinking about more than what you find. For example, just today I was asked by a website, based on a search I ran, if I had metastatic prostate cancer. Umm, (long pause here because I don't have a prostate) no.
        • by Cruciform (42896)

          I bought Dark Souls on Steam during the summer sale last week. I mentioned this on Facebook. The next time I went to Kotaku to read a story it recommended a story about Dark Souls to me. Not the new sequel, but the one from years ago that I just bought. The article was from 2011. So it's not like it's a coincidence that a recent story matched up to my posted content.
          Gives me the creeps.

    • Re:Funny (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Karmashock (2415832) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @06:37PM (#47364335)

      Depends on what you mean by trust... if you mean you think you should encrypt sensitive information and observe security precautions when dealing with money, personal information, etc... then that's just prudent.

      However, there are some that don't trust the internet as a medium in and of itself. And I would argue that that is a problem.

      • by Jeremi (14640)

        However, there are some that don't trust the internet as a medium in and of itself. And I would argue that that is a problem.

        A problem for whom? If they don't mind the inconvenience of never using the Internet, that's their decision, and living without using the Internet is no less doable now than it was for the previous 5,000 generations.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          > living without using the Internet is no less doable now than it was for the previous 5,000 generations.

          That is untrue. The internet has either killed off or made formerly standard things much more difficult.
          For example, classified ads are a wasteland because of the internet.
          Computer Shopper magazine is dead and gone, replaced by the internet.
          You can't buy a print edition of the encyclopedia britannica anymore.
          Book stores are much harder to find.
          Music stores are much harder to find.

    • Re:Funny (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @06:42PM (#47364393)

      It reminds me of a quote from The Godfather II:

      Frank Pentangeli: Your father did business with Hyman Roth, he respected Hyman Roth... but he never *trusted* Hyman Roth!

      . . . just replace Hyman Roth with The Internet . . .

      • Re:Funny (Score:4, Informative)

        by freeze128 (544774) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @07:29PM (#47364771)
        It's getting harder and harder to even RESPECT the internet....
        • by peragrin (659227)

          I stopped trusting the internet when I first got trolled by a goatse picture. How long ago was that? 1999

          If a random person can screw you over that badly I knew that companies would stop even asking for lube.

          • If a random person can screw you over that badly I knew that companies would stop even asking for lube.

            Well, not to be pedantic, but I'm not... sure... the goatse guy really needed lube. I mean, well, he was just so dilated.

            I'm sorry. I felt it needed to be said.

    • Because in my circles, it's the smart people who don't trust the Internet.

      I bet you read that on the internet.

    • Because In my circles, its the people that understand that trust isn't absolute that are the smart people.

    • Re:Funny (Score:5, Interesting)

      by funwithBSD (245349) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @07:13PM (#47364669)

      It is more like a U shape, with Distrust on the vertical and Knowledge on the horizontal axis.

      One end does not trust the internet because they don't know what is out there,

      the other end does not trust the internet because they know what is out there.

      Those in the middle are just knowledgeable enough to be dangerous.

    • by hackus (159037)

      I would like to add that the people who I will describe as the old guard, who brought up the internet have a generally different point of view on the topic of advanced technology. For example, none of us use social networking, either for professional contacts, customers or even general communication.

      Ideas like Facebook, and LinkedIn are something akin to nosey email. Further more we in the old guard as it were see it for what it really is, just a way to sell your information and ripping you off, for really

    • by CODiNE (27417)

      Guess they're not prepared to buy the next thing the internet tells them to. For shame.

    • Because in my circles, it's the smart people who don't trust the Internet.

      Yeah, like we're going to believe that you actually use Google Plus.

    • by msauve (701917)
      I thought the same thing...

      nearly 30% of Americans either aren't digitally literate or don't trust the Internet.

      That should be 100%, because if you're digitally literate, you don't trust the Internet.

  • by darkain (749283) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @06:30PM (#47364275) Homepage

    And those who are extremely educated fall into the "don't trust the Internet" group quite easily. How many security exploits do we need before people stop trusting in various internet services? But not trusting it doesn't mean we stop USING it! We simply alter our actions on the internet.

    • by Tehrasha (624164)
      I don't trust the internet, and I use it 12hrs per day... 20 years of internet have made me the jaded cynic that I am today.
    • by dublin (31215) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @06:58PM (#47364535) Homepage

      Only a fool "trusts the Internet" - especially Wikipedia.

      It's funny, the other day, I was hanging out with a group that included several pretty top-level IT and networking folks, including some leading CS academics. Not one of us uses internet banking, or allows access of any kind to any of our financial accounts over the net. On the rare occasions that companies force the use of the Internet, the general response is to enable access only long enough to do the job, then destroy the Inet access account (best), disable net access (2nd best), or set the password to random gibberish that even we don't know or keep a record of. This forces a long, manual process to "reenable" the acccount that cannot as easily be done by an impostor. None of us "trust" the Internet, I guess.

      That was a real eye-opener for some of the younger "Internet-savvy" group, who all of a sudden realized that maybe they were opening themselves up far more than they realized, especially in a world where every WiFi network, even with WPA2, is now as open as the one at Starbucks...

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "Not one of us uses internet banking"

        I have sad news for you: your data is exposed whether you use it or you don't. If you've paid attention, all the big bank exploits recently have been through their back-end systems, not through desktop malware or browser exploits. Browsers have become sophisticated enough, especially Chrome, that they're no longer the low-hanging fruit.

        So unless you use a bank that somehow manages two completely different ledger and account systems, one which takes networked transactions

        • by AudioEfex (637163) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @07:51PM (#47364887)

          Precisely.

          If you don't pay your bills on the Internet, you are a fool. Why? Because your bills are being paid online anyway, even if you are idiot enough to send a check, which is the most dangerous thing you can do with your financial info.

          You write a check, with all the info needed on it to completely wipe out your checking account (and savings, too, if you have overdraft "protection") on a piece of paper, put it in an envelope that couldn't more clearly scream "THERE IS A CHECK IN HERE" unless you literally wrote that on the outside, and it goes through many hands before getting to its destination which isn't even the company you are paying. If you look at most national account bills (credit cards, cell companies, cable providers, etc.) they all go to the same few places (usually somewhere in the middle of the country like IL) called "lock boxes" where a minimum wage worker opens your envelope, scans your check digitally, transmits the info to the respective banks, and completes the transaction electronically anyway. Oh, and they are supposed to shred it afterwards. You hope.

          The real problem is attacks on back end systems, or assault on terminals, like what happened to Target. Most of the time (almost all) fraud that happens on indivdual online accounts is by someone they know - usually a spouse or child. So if you don't trust them, or can't outwit them with passwords on your system, you have a much larger personal issue than lack of security on the Internet.

          • I do have to add there's a few more attack venues than just at the receiving end of a check payment. There is literally no security at your mailbox, and practically nothing in the mail trucks that pick up your checks. Anyone can take the check right out of the box, and everyone knows something's in there with the little flag being up. And then there's no cameras or security in the mail trucks themselves. Besides federal law, there's nothing stopping a carrier from pocketing a check, which I think is pre
      • by TapeCutter (624760) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @08:19PM (#47365047) Journal
        Where were you hanging out, the paranoia ward at the local hospital? - And get off my lawn before I call my luddite attack dogs.
      • by pooh666 (624584)
        Why the bloody hell does ANYONE DO ANYTHING but drink coffee at Starbucks? All of these god damn log me out in 10 min apps drive me nuts and it is all because of dumbasses at Starbucks...
  • I mean, really. We *know* that (most) grandmas ain't exactly surfin' like crazy. They're terrified of viruses, and all the other associated buzzwords, and were uncomfortable around new technology before that. Certainly there are exceptions -- but I'm not at all surprised to hear that the demographic mentioned isn't exactly spearheading the digital revolution.

    • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @06:37PM (#47364333) Homepage

      Many "grandmas" have embraced the Internet.

      For example, this study from two years ago says that more than half of senior citizens now use it [bizjournals.com]. They often don't know how to use it well, granted, but they're using it. And many of them *do* know how to use it well.

      • by SydShamino (547793) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @07:37PM (#47364809)

        Most senior citizens (those 65 or older) became senior citizens since 1995, when the web started taking off. Many became senior citizens after 2005, when it had mostly saturated middle-class households.

        It's not so much that granny embraced the internet, it's that she embraced the internet and then aged into being "granny".

        • by dougmc (70836)

          I'm not sure "grandma" is synomous with senior citizens, but I guess it's as close as we're going to get real data on.

          But either way, even if they "aged into being a senior citizen" ... there's still more of them using the Internet than not. Yes, they are often terrified of viruses and the like, and if they aren't they should be ... and I recall fixing up my mother in law's computer on a regular basis because it was riddled with crap ... but she still used it. She loved it.

          And the "riddled with crap" prob

    • by fermion (181285)
      Yes, most anyone over the age of 40. I know people in their mid 40s who can't figure out how to get a USB printer to work. OTOH, my mother who was born more than 20 years before the invention of the transistor had to learn to use to use a CRT terminal to look up information to help patrons, then a microcomputer, then had a computer in retirement for investments, email, and general web surfing. I think the difference is the expectation of education. If you just learn basic skills in high school, if you go
    • by rtb61 (674572)

      For that group it is all in the technological difference between a computer hooked to the internet that is capable of doing a positively huge number of different and varied things to an appliance that hooks to the phone.

      Forget selling them a computer and the internet, sell the a touch screen voice activated terminal with a remote tablet. Push button to call, say name, read details on screen to confirm. A terminal that can learn the users pronunciations and enunciations with some really broad fuzzy logic

    • I mean, really. We *know* that (most) grandmas ain't exactly surfin' like crazy. They're terrified of viruses, and all the other associated buzzwords, and were uncomfortable around new technology before that. Certainly there are exceptions -- but I'm not at all surprised to hear that the demographic mentioned isn't exactly spearheading the digital revolution.

      This 30% number is going to go down over time -- as these people die.

  • Who around here trusts "The Internet" ???

    Wouldn't blind trust be considered digital illiteracy?

    • by steak (145650)

      this man speaketh the truth.

    • It's only ones and zeroes, how bad can it be?

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Yeah, no shit. The first thing I told my mother when she wanted to become 'digitally literate' is to never trust the internet.

      Never trust it's telling you the truth, never trust it cares about your interests, and never trust that someone might not be out to rip you off.

      Then I'll show you how to actually get to it.

      Not trusting the internet is a damned good starting point.

    • Considering that this article seems to be a precursor to "The Internet of Things" acceptability campaign, I think I agree with your sentiment the most.
  • by bmo (77928) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @06:36PM (#47364325)

    nearly 30% of Americans either aren't digitally literate or don't trust the Internet.

    I have been out here in e-space for decades.

    You are a fool if you trust any kind of technology blindly, especially a technology that gives every moron with free access to a terminal somewhere. This goes for the POTS too.

    Because I'm sure going to trust that guy with the east-Indian accent telling me over the phone to install a remote access tool to my computer. Which actually happened to me 3 something weeks ago.

    You are digitally illiterate if you "trust the Internet."

    --
    BMO

    • Because I'm sure going to trust that guy with the east-Indian accent telling me over the phone to install a remote access tool to my computer.

      Indeed. Why go through the hassle of following the manual instructions of an Indian guy, when an American guy at NSA can install a remote access tool to my computer automatically. :P

    • by sribe (304414)

      Because I'm sure going to trust that guy with the east-Indian accent telling me over the phone to install a remote access tool to my computer. Which actually happened to me 3 something weeks ago.

      I had one that when I informed how that I knew how the scam worked, assured me that it was not a scam. When I continued to refuse, but did not hang up just because I was curious, he got really authoritative with me and ORDERED me to do what he was telling me to. Lord, did I curse then.

    • by Jeremi (14640)

      You are digitally illiterate if you "trust the Internet."

      It's not clear what is meant by "trust the Internet".

      For example, you could "trust the Internet" enough to log on to a terminal at the library and anonymously read Slashdot articles, but not "trust the Internet" enough to access your bank account online (or invest in BitCoins, heaven forfend). Does that make you digitally literate or illiterate?

  • by hurfy (735314) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @06:38PM (#47364351)

    I'll let you fill in your own descriptions.

    WTF, How are those two descriptions combined into one group of people to count ?

  • by edibobb (113989) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @06:47PM (#47364433) Homepage
    I'm not ready to embrace new Windows 8 technology. I'm not ready to manage my finances on an insecure Android phone. I'm not ready to spend uncounted hours ingesting inane trash on social networks (unless there's a member of the opposite sex involved, naturally). I'm not ready to browse a web dominated by animated ads and twisted news. I am a obviously a Luddite.
  • by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @06:55PM (#47364491)
    The majority of that 30% of Americans will either be dead soon, or from a social-economic background in far greater need of being addressed than their lack of technological savvy.
  • the internet is made up of people, and people inherently cannot be trusted.

  • by allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @07:16PM (#47364689)

    70% of Americans are ready for the next generation of technology!

  • nearly 30% of Americans either aren't digitally literate or don't trust the Internet.

    ... that less than 30% of Americans are mature enough to use the Internet.

  • ... 50 % of americans are below average. Oh noes!

  • nearly 30% of Americans either aren't digitally literate or don't trust the Internet

    For that to be true, over 70% of Americans must be BOTH digitally literate AND trust the Internet, which is impossible since anyone who trusts the Internet is not digitally literate.

  • Will people ever be ready for stuff like replicators, site to site transporters and Holodecks? Let alone going to far off civilizations at speeds faster than light and meeting wierd aliens.

    I guess they could cope with com-badges

  • Well what the heck does that mean? Don't trust the Nigerian prince that claims to have 2 billions dollars? Don't trust that popup advertisement that claims your computer is infected with a virus?

    Don't trust the internet is the most important rule of the internet.

  • There's plenty of technologically literate people in India who can handle working with the new technology that Americans can't bother to learn to use. If the Americans don't want those jobs there are plenty of others who do.
  • And I still don't trust it.

  • In completely unrelated news, according to the 2010 US Census,almost 30% of American Fathers Aren't Ready For the Next Generation [wikipedia.org]
  • The fact that so many never use the internet could be because the internet does not actually give them anything they want. 30% sounds like a lot - if that is accurate - but how does that compare to how many that don't use a smartphone or watch TV? Even if you are not a luddite, you may find the price is far too high, considering the benefit you would get from it. Internet is a very much like cable TV, where you get access to an impressive 500 channels, but most of them just run near-identical soaps and real

  • Out of the maligned 30%, I'd like to see a breakdown separating the merely technology-challenged versus people who have seen enough stories about identity theft, .gov surveillance, stalking, and all the other downsides to the net and just said, "Fuck it, it ain't worth it." There is, believe it or not, a sub-group of ex-internet users who are by no means Luddites. They simply just say "No!" to all the crapvertising, crime, and wasted time.

  • And the technically literate are even more afraid of the internet because they know how shoddy a lot of the code running it is.

    Not to mention the sheer crapulence of the average website (all javascript links, flash abominations, piss poor use of graphics, loading of javascript from multiple domains most of which is not even used etc. etc. etc.)

    And let's not get started on how utterly dreadful the usability is on a lot of sites.

    I've gone from being an early adopter to refusing to do a lot of things online (i

  • I don't not trust the internet, but one has to be very prudent in verifying sources. There is a LOT of misinformation that get perpetuated around the net. Part of it is the armchair charlatans, the other are parties "planting" half-truths or outright lies to further their agenda with little fear of retaliation. There's a lot of wisdom to the saying "no one knows you're a dog on the internet".
  • I am skeptical of claims that people suffer from "digital readiness". I guarantee you they are perfectly capable of using the internet when it comes to porn. It's not like it requires years of schooling. Once someone has access to the internet there is no excuse for not becoming "digitally literate", other than a lack of motivation.

  • I trust the internet enough to pay my bills online. I also check my accounts online to make sure nobody has fsked with them.

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