October 11, 2005
Offline and loving it

Dwight writes about the "hardcore offline" - folks who don't use the Internet, either from never trying it or from trying it and not liking it. There's an interview here with the scoop, and his post and comments have some interesting insights.

I've been online since 1989, back when Usenet ruled the world. At this point, just about all of my family is online - the main exceptions are Tiffany's grandmothers, both of whom are over 80. Everyone else at least uses email, and thanks to the proclivity of us kids to put pictures of our children on the web, most of them fire up their browser once in awhile. I just want to highlight one thing here, which I think is a key difference-maker:

Internet users who remain on dial-up connections are less likely to go online on a typical day than those who have a fast, broadband connection at home. Further, dial-up users are less likely than broadband users to have used the internet for a host of activities.

My in-laws still use dialup at home, despite some not-so-subtle hints from Tiffany and me about the wonders of cable modems. Both of them are into email now, and of course they love seeing pix of Olivia, but neither of those are incentive enough to switch. I think they're approaching a tipping point, though, because Tiffany tells me her mom is beginning to learn the joys of online shopping. Given Sharon's prowess in these matters, I figure the rest will follow naturally. We shall see.

Thanks to Kimberly for the link.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 11, 2005 to Technology, science, and math | TrackBack

"I think they're approaching a tipping point, though, because Tiffany tells me her mom is beginning to learn the joys of online shopping."

Once Tiffany's mother discovers Ebay or Amazon.com, she'll get a cable modem. :-)

As for you, I think it's part of the Geek laws that professional geeks such as us have cable modems. I think we have to turn in our Geek Card if we use dial-up on a regular basis. :-)

As for the pictures of Olivia, you should try using uncompressed 5 megapixel or better JPEGs in your E-mails. Those take forever to d/l with dial-up. :-)

Posted by: William Hughes on October 12, 2005 4:32 AM

If Michael and I had kids, that would switch my mother in a minute.

As it is, she's considering VOIP from Road Runner. I told her to check into whether 911 works.

Posted by: Ginger Stampley on October 12, 2005 8:45 AM


The FAQ regarding RoadRunner VoIP service includes the following:

Q: Can I call 911 using Digital Phone?

A: Yes, absolutely. Safety is an important consideration and Digital Phone service provides enhanced 911 service which transmits your address and phone number to emergency services should you need to dial 911. Please note that Digital Phone service does not include back-up power. As in the case with a cordless phone, should there be a power outage, Digital Phone service, including the ability to access 911 services, will not be available until the power is restored.

Posted by: William Hughes on October 12, 2005 10:30 AM

It's not just older relatives. When I met Chris, he was using dialup. It only took a couple months worth of "come on into the 1990s, babe" to persuade him to switch to DSL. Of course, I still get the occasional email from his AOL account. Still, progress is a good thing.

As for family, my mom checks my blog pretty regularly, and notes that while she'd like to see some pics of grandkids soon, she'd settle for more shots of me, less of our construction project.

And, as a side note, I was on the phone with a friend yesterday and mentioned my trip this weekend to Houston to see the Kuffners. She's never met any of y'all, but immediately said, "the parents of that gorgeous little girl on your website?"

Posted by: Ellen on October 12, 2005 10:52 AM

I'm a member of a different sort of "hardcore offline:" while I use the Internet regularly, I don't have a cell phone. I simply don't see much value in making it easy for people to bug me.

As for dial-up vs. broadband, I've commented on that before: it's great, but when the only way to get it is to pay over $50/mo to a company whose business practices I despise, I'd rather do without, thank you very much.

Posted by: Mathwiz on October 13, 2005 3:47 PM