Profile of a serial Net user

What's the political profile of Web users? How many are willing to pay for Web access? And, what talk show host to they prefer: Letterman or Leno?

Jeff Pelline Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Jeff Pelline is editor of CNET News.com. Jeff promises to buy a Toyota Prius once hybrid cars are allowed in the carpool lane with solo drivers.
Jeff Pelline
2 min read
What's the political profile of Web users? How many are willing to pay for Web access? And what talk show host to they prefer, Letterman or Leno?

Those questions have been answered in the latest Web survey, released by a research organization at Georgia Tech's College of Computing called the Graphic, Visualization & Usability Center, and some of the results may be somewhat surprising:

  • Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed said they wanted selective government intervention and believe that the government serves as a check on excessive liberty. That appears to contradict conventional wisdom that most Net users detest government intervention.

  • Almost 70 percent said they are not willing to pay fees to obtain information on the Web. That may be bad news for Web providers that are gearing up to charge for some proprietary material.

  • David Letterman was chosen over Jay Leno as the favorite late-night talk show host by more than a two-to-one margin.

    The group's survey, its sixth, was taken in October and November. More than 59,400 responses were collected from more than 15,000 respondents. The survey is more unique than most, because it attempts to collect detailed profiles of Net users, and that is difficult.

    "The Internet represents the most viable and fertile test bed for future global interactive systems," the survey said. "Many golden opportunities are readily leveraged off knowledge of how this evolving medium is and is not being utilized and by whom."

    Other findings may surprise some Net users as well. For example, the average age of users responding to the survey was 34.9 years--older than many might believe.

    Fewer than half of the respondents felt more connected to people who share their interests since coming online. That seems low, given all the hype about the Net and its new sense of community, but the survey tried to put a good face on the findings.

    "This provides evidence that the Internet is building new communities based on common interests instead of common geographic locations," it said.