OneWebDay: Survey response insight about the Web’s history and Web use on mobile devices

Elon’s iMedia program took over College Coffee today to promote OneWebDay by asking students and faculty five short survey questions related to the Web, how people use the Internet and the issues that will be the most prominent surrounding the Web in the future. Two things struck me about the responses from survey respondents. As a survey conductor, I attempted to get responses from a good mix of people. I was expecting that many students might over-estimate the answer to the first survey question: The amount of time that the World Wide Web has been in existence since Tim Berners-Lee wrote the first HTML code. Almost half of the participants said 1980.
My surprise came when I asked the question to three professors in the school of communications—some involved in the iMedia program, and they too said 1970 or 1980. The correct answer, 1990, comes as a shock to many people because it is hard to believe that the Web has developed this much in under 10 years.  Another common mistake made by students is that they are viewing the Web and the Internet as one in the same. I heard many respondents think out loud before giving their response, saying things like: “The Internet has been around for…” or “The Internet seems pretty old, so I would say…” Some of the professors questioned about this made similar errors. In thinking about how much the Web has grown and expanded its capacity in such a short time, who knows what could happen 10 years into the future?
Two years ago, an article was published entitled: “10 future Web trends.” The full article can be accessed here: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/10_future_web_trends.php. Most of these trends are already accessible in full-force, such as online video, personalization and mobile Web.

Our OneWebDay survey at College Coffee included a question that asked students about their time spent on the Web via cellular telephones.  The survey results are skewed because there was no option in which respondents could choose “I do not use the Internet on my cell phone.” However; most people chose the “less than five minutes” option. While the Internet can be accessed on most cell phones, will mobile devices ever completely replace personal computers? Or are we irritated by jabbing away at small buttons on a miniature phone screen when we could just be using a much larger keyboard?
According to an article from the Technologizer Web site, it is only a matter of time before more advanced cell phones will completely replace computers. The article, titled: “The Smartphone is destined to replace the PC,” is available at http://technologizer.com/2009/03/02/the-smartphone-is-destined-to-replace-the-pc/. Others argue that while the phasing out of the PC may become a possibility, the trend is currently overrated: http://www.engadget.com/2009/08/07/entelligence-the-death-of-the-pc-is-greatly-exaggerated-at-lea/.

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