by Roby LaPorte
Like that little pink bunny on TV, the Internet just keeps going and going and going ... Everyday, new websites are created and uploaded, adding more and more resources and information available to the peoples of our planet.
So, just how big is the World Wide Web (which is only a part of the Internet) these days? I get asked this question quite often, and I love to dig into a little research to find out. The latest statistics are showing that from 950 million up to one billion individuals worldwide will use the Internet in 2006. In the United States alone, over 200 million people will go online for one purpose or another. In the UK, just fewer than 45 million users will surf the net. At the beginning of this year, an estimated 75 million websites were indexed and active on the web. That’s an estimated five million terabytes of information.
Of course, these numbers are subject to change without notice as even Google, now acknowledged as the best search engine ever, has succeeded to index only 170 terabytes up until now. Google has been indexing information for seven years, so to have an idea of how fast this process is, in order to index the five million terabytes of data out there, the search engine would need 300 years to get through it. And this would be valid only if no new content was posted on the Internet, and people do just that everyday.
The world population is now estimated to be 6,499,697,060, give or take a few. 1,022,863,307 of these folks are using the web at least on a weekly basis. That’s about 16% for the whole world, but here in North America, we’re now up to 68.7% of the population spending time using the web. Talk about growth that’s an increase of 110% since the turn of the millennium, and 183% worldwide.
Also, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, a global leader in Internet media and market research, nearly 75% of U.S. active Web users are connected to the Internet at home via high-speed broadband. Research also indicates that broadband users are more likely to make better use of Internet functionalities and newer technologies. Now that broadband is so readily available most everywhere, the last 25% of users who are still on dial-up will be pushed to broadband as the Internet continues to move beyond text-based information to a comprehensive source for video.
Enough with the statistics. But, I believe whole-heartedly in the value of the Internet for us humans. It’s great to see it all expanding so well and seeing so many people taking advantage of the many uses the web has to offer. For me, it’s the communication and information aspects I find so rewarding; so many ways to meet and chat with people from all walks of life in all areas of the world that you would never have met otherwise.
As a small example of that, just recently here in my little San Clemente neighborhood, we had an incident where a break-in and assault put two of our neighbors in the hospital. Thanks to the Internet and email, our Neighborhood Watch program was reenacted. We all assembled and communication among neighbors via email resulted in many people actually getting to know each other. A website was created so important information could be posted for reference, like a block-walk schedule, articles on home safety and security and city and police information. Just a small way the Internet can help us get our neighborhood back to the quiet and safe place we’ve known it to be. Next stop, the entire planet.
“A hundred years ago, the electric telegraph made possible - indeed, inevitable - the United States of America. The communications satellite will make equally inevitable a United Nations of Earth; let us hope that the transition period will not be equally bloody.”Arthur C. Clarke English physicist & science fiction author. b