How Much Do We Know About The Internet? Not Much, According To A New Study, & Age Doesn't Matter
75 percent of those surveyed thought there was no difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web, which is a faulty understanding, as US News explains. Whereas "the Internet refers to the infrastructure that uses specific protocols to connect various networks; the web is one application that uses that architecture to share information using web pages."
While Internet users may not be so in tune with more nebulous and somewhat removed concepts, the survey did find that most respondents were on top of their current events, with 61 percent correctly defining "Net Neutrality" as "the equal treatment of digital content by service providers." But move a little further back in history, and people were less successful at guessing the first popular graphical web browser, Mosaic (only 9 percent of respondents knew that one, don't worry).
Interestingly enough, while most survey participants were able to identify famous men in tech, with 83 percent of respondents recognizing Bill Gates as Bill Gates, and not Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs, only 21 percent knew who Sheryl Sandberg was (or at least, what she looked like). Despite her status as one of the most powerful and visible women in technology, her relative lack of fame speaks volumes to the gender disparity that remains an enormous problem in the field.
While age didn't necessarily make a significant difference in respondents' scores (the youngest participants answered an average of 10.1 questions correctly, while the oldest scored 7.8), Smith found that the differences were most pronounced when it came to "social media, as well as common Internet usage conventions." But a stronger determinant for success in this particular quiz was education level, with college graduates scoring higher as a group across the board. This is generally the case with Pew Research quizzes, but even so, the gap for this particular study wasn't huge — only 12 percent of the best educated demographic knew about Mosaic, a measly 3 percentage points greater than the survey population as a whole. Smith added, "...there are some elements of the technology world on which even this highly educated group rates poorly. For instance, just one in five correctly answered that the internet and World Wide Web are not the same thing..."
Being well-versed in Internet lingo and the details of its functionality may not seem like such a huge deal, but considering the degree to which we rely upon and trust the Internet, our smartphones and our computers, educating ourselves on some of the basics may not be such a bad idea. As Smith noted in his report, "Just because people use these gadgets a lot doesn't necessarily mean they know everything about how they work and where they came from."
Images: Pew Research; Getty Images