Top 25 Uses for the Internet

August 19, 2009 at 2:00 pm (broadband, Internet surfing) (, , , )

This is part two of my last post, where I explained why I oppose the spending of stimulus money to get broadband to rural areas. I realized that I made an assumption that is not always true–I assumed that by rural they mean country folk like me, who live over 10 miles from a city. People like us have to drive half an hour or more to get to work and wouldn’t dream of getting pizza delivered, much less Internet services like dsl or cable all the way to our house.

I realized yesterday that rural also means small mountian-side or desert towns and villages that are over 50 miles from a real city. In these cases, there are actual businesses, not just individuals, that don’t have good (or any) Internet access, and that could sure use some help.

From what I’ve been reading, there are multiple references made to individuals who have no access to broadband, and, while my sympathies are with them (don’t forget, that includes me!), I don’t think the government should be buying them broadband Internet!

My main reason for opposing spending our scarce government money (that will eventually be coming out of our pockets) for broadband access to rural areas is because I don’t think most individuals need it badly enough to justify spending billions of dollars.

In my last post I began my research on the primary uses for the Internet. It seems that social networking is the most popular activity, if you look at the most popular websites. But let’s take this a step further.

The last post did not include websites that were search engines, because their purpose is too broad. About half of the top websites were search engines, including the ones we all know and love: Google, Yahoo, Windows Live (now Bing) and MSN. Yesterday I researched the most popular searches to find out more about our online audience.

Google provides a list of the top ten search terms for each year, and top 100 searches for each day, up to today. I began to gather the top searched topic of every day in the month of July to see if I could find a consensus or group them in categories. I am not in the least impressed with us Google-searchers. After the first ten entries of celebrity gossip and who was shot to death that day, I lost interest—and my appetite! If you’re curious, check out Google Hot Trends for all the latest, tasteless gossip. Back to our discussion!

Here is a list from, based on information collected by the Pew Internet & American Life Project (they’re at it again!), of what people do most online. I took great pains in figuring out how to make a chart and loading it here. Hope you enjoy!


The list was actually much longer, but I decided to show you at least the top 25, only because I had to go that far down to find some uses for the Internet that is clearly work-related. In my opinion, the first 22 are usually not business/work/job related, but many of them can be. Email, for example, is the top activity, and could be both work or pleasure related.

My conclusion, we online users as a whole use the Internet for fun, news (both educational and *ahem* pointless, but interesting), and research. I’m not surprised. And you probably aren’t either.

Here’s one last thought. Look at that list again. Only 3 of those activities usually require a broadband connection (as opposed to dial-up) because of the heavy streaming/real time activity needed to run effectively. So why spend billions of dollars on broadband? There’s a reason why telephone and Internet companies haven’t done it already–it costs too much money to be worthwhile.


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