[Air-l] FW: As the Web Matures, Fun Is Hard to Find (L Guernsey NYTimes)

Ellis Godard ellisgodard at starband.net
Thu Mar 28 13:13:36 PST 2002

My thoughts...

>  survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in Washington, people
>  averaged 90 minutes per online session. A year later, when the same
>  people were polled, that number had dropped to 83 minutes.

New users probably stay online longer, in part learning how to use it. And
if sessions are increasingly about business rather than exploration, they
are likely to be shorter but more frequent. Overall time online may thus
have increased, even dramatically.

>  About half of Internet users in 2000, for example, said
>  the Internet helped "a lot" in enabling them to learn new things. A year
>  later, when the same group was polled, only 39 percent made that claim.

Do many tools seem more useful as you spend more time with them? If
exuberance inflates initial estimates, the compared measures are not
reliable. Who would rate a car more helpful - someone who just got their
license last week, or someone who long ago grew tired of highway traffic?

>  "For fun Internet activities, users report little or no growth in having
>  gone online for hobbies, game playing or just to seek out fun
>  diversions,"

Given rapid growth in home video gaming consoles (now apparently a larger
revenue stream than theater movies, and which increasingly use the
Internet), perhaps there is not even a decline of diversion online, but
simply a shift from the Web.

>  For the first time, the number of expiring domain names
>  outnumbers those being registered or renewed,

That surely reflects the economy (a boom in registration followed by a slump
generally), and says nothing about usage.

>  And about 20 percent of public Web sites that
>  existed nine months ago no longer exist, according to a sample studied

Is that unique? What is the average lifespan of any website? Some sites (and
many pages within them) are intended to be temporary. If "sites" were
measured as unique pages, those are of course likely to be updated,
replaced, or moved. And if "public web sites" includes freebies such as from
Geocities, the % figure may have no implications for sites of much use,
importance, or visitation.

>  a tough advertising climate, a lagging economy and a seriousness that has
>  infused society since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Those alone account for much of what is said in the article - and might pass
within weeks, months, or years, depending on the course of events.

>  "I'm a frontiersperson, and the Web is not a frontier anymore," he said.
>  "It is simply a place."

The frontier has moved, as it always has and always does. Cyberspace is
evolving, from text-based messaging to graphical web sites to multiple
devices and inputs. Its use is thus increasingly hard to measure - and
inferences from data about it, increasingly suspect.

Those who led the quirkiness revolution may be poor informants of what's
entertaining, either to today's newcomers or generally. If treasures online
are now related to business rather than arcana, they might be no less
enjoyable - only enjoyed for different purposes. And if newcomers come with
different purposes, the web may seem as playful and magical as it always

- Ellis

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