Merrill Lynch & Co and Wired Magazine have been off trying to get the measure of America’s internet users and conclude, hardly surprisingly, that they tend to be more affluent, suburban, and younger than the general population. The bank and book believe 10% of America’s 260 million people can now be regarded as digital citizens. They find nearly half of them have no college diploma and that they identify more with Bill Gates than Bill Clinton and are less likely to watch Seinfeld. Whether this lends credence to their observation that digital citizens tend to be more involved and optimistic than their analog counterparts, we’ll let you judge for yourselves. The study, to be reported in Wired’s December issue, suggests technology may be changing more than how people work, communicate or play – it is changing the way you think, vote, and feel about the future. The study reveals, rather than internet user as the ultimate slacker the digital citizen is, in fact, is about the most plugged-in, connected, optimistic and opinionated person we are likely to find in America today. Their study is based on a poll of 1,444 Americans by Luntz Research Companies which divided them into four categories based on how often they use email and the extent to which they have access to a laptop, a cell phone, a beeper and a home computer. It found 7% of Americans are exchange email at least three days a week and use three of the four targeted technologies regularly. 2% of the overall population exchange email at least three days a week and use all other technologies regularly. 62% of the population exchanges email at least once a week or use one of the technologies regularly. 29% do not use any of the target technologies at all. The net might be agist – only 3% of senior citizens have used it – but it’s less sexist than perhaps might have be thought; 48% of Americans who exchange email at least three time a week are women. Men and women in that category generally believe in the free-market system as they would, given 82% of them own stocks, bonds or mutual funds. This group of Americans are the only members of the populace who appear to believe that setting up a computer is easier than filling out a tax return.
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