Measuring the Internet: host counts versus business plans.
Information, Communication and Society, 4(1),
The excessive media attention in and economic hopes placed on the Internet mean that measures of its size and distribution have been undertaken more often with an eye to business plans than to methodological rigour.This paper examines one disinterested source of Internet statistics, the Internet Domain Survey, to provide accurate measures of Internet size and distribution. Methodological issues in utilizing this survey are discussed to ensure the significance of findings is understood and to identify key methodological problems in a new field of research. Two particular problems are identified; the need to define user per computer host ratios and to identify the national origin of computers with international domain names. Statistics are presented from the five Internet Domain Surveys from January 1998 to January 2000 in the following categories: overall size, regional distribution, human development and economic distribution, linguistic distribution and user numbers. The conclusion is reached that even as the Internet is growing in all regions world-wide it remains concentrated in the highly developed nations. Some consideration of the implications of this for wider debates around the Internet is given.
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