You Might Be Old If You Remember What www Is

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Remember the days when someone gave a website address as www.whatever.com? But do you remember what the www stands for? The correct answer is World Wide Web, but did you know that the World Wide Web is actually different than the Internet? If so, then you’re in the minority.

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Survey tests respondents’ Web IQ

This week Pew Research published the results of a survey about how much Internet users know about the Web and technology in general. Believe it or not the World Wide Web is actually 25 years old this year.

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The survey covered more than 1,000 Internet users and included 17 questions on a number of technology-related issues. According to researchers, “substantial majorities” of those who participated in the survey correctly identified some common Internet-related terms and questions about popular technology platforms.

Sample questions from the Web IQ survey

For example, about three-quarters were aware that a megabyte is larger than a kilobyte, while about 70% of respondents correctly identified pictures related to some common technology terms like captcha and advanced search.

While most adults don’t actually use Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR)’s social network, 82% of Americans who are online know about hashtags and how Twitter conversations work. Additionally, 60% knew that Twitter limits tweets to just 140 characters.

Technology history, vocabulary remain difficult for most

There are some areas in which survey participants had more problems than others. For example, only a third were aware that Moore’s Law is about the number of transistors on a microchip. Only 23% knew that the Internet and the World Wide Web aren’t the same thing. If you’re not part of that minority, the World Wide Web refers to all the interlinked documents that can be accessed using the Internet, which is the network of global computers.

Only 9% of participants knew that Mosaic was the first popular Web browser, which of course put younger survey takers at a disadvantage because many weren’t alive or at least old enough to use Mosaic. Older participants were disadvantaged on questions about common technology terms and social media conventions.

When asked about leaders in the tech world, 83% of online Americans correctly identified Bill Gates in a photograph. Interestingly though, 10% wrongly said he was Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) co-founder Steve Jobs. And only 21% of respondents recognized Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg in a photo.

Here’s a look at the overall results from the questions and also a breakdown according to age. Graph and chart are courtesy Pew Research.

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