Studies

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
gigabyte, html, survey, uk



Survey: 27% Think A Gigabyte Is a Type Of South American Insect [Update: Or Not]

from the I-see-dumb-people dept

Update: Or not. It appears that this survey may be bogus. Still, the key point, that we've noted for years, is that the average person has no idea how much a gigabyte really is -- and we'd bet that's still true, even if this "survey" appears to be just a marketing stunt.

A new survey from a UK company unsurprisingly found that more than a few people are slightly clueless when it comes to technology terms. The multiple-choice survey, which polled 2,392 U.S. men and women 18 years of age or older, found that one in ten Americans believe that html is some form of sexually-transmitted disease. While most survey respondents knew the definition of more general terms (like "dialect"), the full survey (pdf) found that even basic tech terms confused many people. 42% thought a motherboard was a deck on a cruise ship, 15% thought that software was comfortable clothing, and 77% of respondents didn't know what SEO meant.

Interestingly, while 67% respondents knew that a gigabyte was a unit of measurement of digital information (though the survey didn't ask them how much information is contained in a gigabyte), 27% believed that a gigabyte was a type of South American insect. That's actually a better statistic than I've seen in the past. A 2008 poll suggested that 87% of those polled had no idea what a gigabyte was or how many they use. The New York Times did an entirely unscientific street poll a few years back and found that few, if any, passers by knew what a megabyte is:
"If a sampling of pedestrians on the streets of Brooklyn is any guide, most people have only a vague idea. One said a megabyte was “the amount of something we have to use the Internet,” adding, “We should have three or four." Miranda Popkey, 24, was closer: “It’s a measure of how much information you store. If there are too many of them, I can’t send my e-mail attachment."
The thing is, most people can get away with not knowing what a motherboard is without losing a limb. Thinking that USB is an acronym for a country in Europe may not make you the smartest person in the room, but it's not going to hurt your wallet. Even the 29% of survey respondents who thought a migraine was a type of rice should probably make it through the day without any major repercussions (assuming they don't choke on their own tongue or something). But with both fixed line and wireless carriers increasingly charging by the megabyte and gigabyte, people might want to brush up on the term before they have to take out a second mortgage to fund their Angry Birds habit.

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  1. identicon
    zip, 14 Mar 2014 @ 9:09pm

    Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 14th, 2014 @ 6:50pm

    The most 'educational' era computer-wise might have been in the 1970s, when about the only thing anyone could do with a computer was to program it themselves.

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