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Head count: 17 million on the Net?

Researchers at the Baruch College School of Public Affairs and polling company Louis Harris and Associates say that 1 in 11, or 17 million, American adults are currently using the Internet.

Is there really any way to estimate how many people use the Internet?

According to researchers at the Baruch College School of Public Affairs and polling company Louis Harris and Associates, there is. And by their count, 1 in 11, or 17 million, American adults are on the Net.

This number is extrapolated from a series of 4 Louis Harris polls taken from September 1995 through January 1996. The study determined that 9 percent of 4,022 adults polled have access to the Net.

This number is almost twice the size of previous estimates. Emerging Technologies Research Group last month released a report that said 9.5 million Americans and 1.1 million children currnently use the Net. This study required all respondents to prove that they use an application other than email.

Whatever their final head count, most Internet surveys agree that the demographics of the Net are different from the population as a whole: compared to the average citizen, most Net users are younger, wealthier, and more likely to be white.