So You Think You Know the Internet…

The Pew Research Internet Project is an ongoing series of studies devoted to the 25th anniversary of the Internet. As part of this project, Pew recently conducted a Web IQ Quiz designed to gauge just how knowledgeable you Internet users are about the technology you use every day. The survey tested over 1,000 participants between 18 and 65, all of whom had to self-report at least occasional use of the Internet or email. Far be it from us to point fingers. So when you say “you,” just assume we mean that other guy reading this post, and not you personally. After all, if you’re reading this site, you probably have a more active interest in the Internet than most. We have no doubt that you’ll score 100 percent on the quiz. The way we see it, the questions fall into two basic categories: Internet background/history/personalities, and Internet technical details/use/behavior. Here’s How Others Did Over 80 percent of those surveyed knew that Twitter is the home of the hashtag, so that’s not too shabby. But 56 percent believed that having a privacy policy means that online entities actually keep your information confidential. That’s an epic fail, in the parlance of our time. Another 26 percent didn’t know that a megabyte is bigger than a kilobyte, meaning that around one in four are going to have a hard time picking out which Internet plans are fastest. Just under a quarter, 23 percent, didn’t know that any email program can send a PDF file. A full 77 percent still don’t know that the Internet and World Wide Web aren’t synonymous, and 39 percent of you need to bone up on Net Neutrality. The questions about web history show plenty of room for improvement. Only 36 percent of those surveyed knew that the iPhone debuted in 2007. The 42 percent that knew Harvard was the first university on Facebook probably don’t have a huge leg up on the rest of us. And if you’re one of the 79 percent who couldn’t identify the picture of Sheryl Sandberg, we’ll give you a pass. Perhaps not surprisingly, the younger you are, the more likely you were to do well on the survey. Every demographic scored better than the one above it in age, even on several of the history-related questions. Education also played a part in the results, with college grads answering an average of 2.6 more questions correctly than those who had not been to college. What Does it all Mean? If you were a bit fuzzy on some of the questions regarding technical knowledge and usage, you might want to read some of those Terms of Service agreements a bit more closely before you check the box and click “submit.” We’ll be the first to admit, though, that if you’re among the 91 percent who failed to pick Mosaic as the first popular graphic web browser, it probably doesn’t affect your ability to use Chrome, Safari, or Firefox today. We definitely encourage people to learn more about all aspects of the Internet, both for practical reasons, and because you never know when that question might show up on Final Jeopardy. Tell us how you did on the quiz — post your score, and be honest. Want to learn more about Internet plans and pricing? [zipfinder] Image by Don Solo/Flickr

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Will Smith is a copywriter living in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His favorite word is “petrichor,” and aside from wordplay, he loves reading history, watching Dodger baseball, and racing with the Sports Car Club of America.

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