A Wired World

PAUL SOLMAN: Let's begin with a look at some estimates of Internet use and how it's been exploding in the past year. Our numbers come from a variety of sources. About 80% of Americans now have personal computers. About 100 million people are online and at last count the Net was adding 38 new users every second. Some 55 million Americans log on to the Internet, in a typical day. About 40% of them check their e-mail every day. About 30% check several times a day. In 1998, the U.S. Postal Service delivered 101 billion pieces of paper or snail mail. The number of e-mail messages transmitted in 1998 is estimated to have been around 4 trillion. 60% of regular Internet users report watching less television; 34% spend less time shopping in stores; 13% attend fewer social events; more than 25% say they now have friends they've never met in person; and-- our favorite-- 48% of regular Internet users, according to a UCLA study, say they now deny their children on-line access as a punishment tool. In short, the Internet is becoming a given of the American and global landscape, whether we like it or not.
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