Universities diffused internet technology in mid-1990s

February 22, 2006

Universities played a unique role in the diffusion of Internet technology in the mid-1990s, according to a paper published in the March issue of the International Journal of Industrial Organization.

"The Internet, which many people view as the most important technology of the last 15 years, moved from universities to the public in an unusual way," says Avi Goldfarb, a professor at the University of Toronto's Joseph L. Rotman School of Management. He points out that there has been little empirical research on the role of universities in diffusing technology. "Most technologies that are invented in universities move through research journals or through business partnerships. The Internet followed a different pattern, in that students brought it to the public."

Goldfarb analysed data from nearly 105,000 surveys and found that even when controlling for factors like age, industry and tech-savviness, the impact of a mid-1990s university education on Internet use was much higher than for other time periods. The effect is not limited to students from that period, but has been transferred to members of their households, regardless of age. "In other words, universities taught a generation of students to use the Internet and they in turn taught their families."

The effect was especially high for low-income students and even greater among members of their households. Goldfarb's research shows that in low-income households, family members of students who attended university in the mid-1990s were more than 50 per cent more likely to adopt the Internet than they otherwise would have been.

Universities are distinctly well positioned to disseminate technology, says Goldfarb, and may even be unsung heroes in the diffusion of Internet technology. "IBM invents lots of things and their employees might use them -- but they stay at IBM, so it's harder for those technologies to have a wide impact. People are only in universities for four years. When they graduate they go all over the world and into all sorts of different industries."

Source: University of Toronto

Explore further: AI software found able to identify people in blurred images

Related Stories

AI software found able to identify people in blurred images

September 16, 2016

(Tech Xplore)—A trio of researchers has found off-the-shelf AI software can be used to identify people in blurred or pixilated images. Reza Shokri and Vitaly Shmatikov with Cornell University and Richard McPherson with ...

Rise of online work captured in the first Online Labour Index

September 21, 2016

Oxford researchers launch the Online Labour Index, which finds US employers are the number one users of the 'online gig economy' (representing 52% of the market) but over the last few months UK employers have been fast catching ...

Holographic imaging and deep learning diagnose malaria

September 19, 2016

Duke researchers have devised a computerized method to autonomously and quickly diagnose malaria with clinically relevant accuracy—a crucial step to successfully treating the disease and halting its spread.

Zuckerberg, Chan pledge $3B to end disease

September 21, 2016

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a goal that's even more ambitious than connecting the entire world to the internet: He and his wife want to help eradicate all disease by the end of this century.

Recommended for you

Photons do the twist, and scientists can now measure it

September 26, 2016

Researchers in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering have measured the twisting force, or torque, generated by light on a silicon chip. Their work holds promise for applications such as miniaturized ...

Click and declick of amine and thiol coupling reaction

September 26, 2016

(Phys.org)—A group of researchers from the University of Texas have developed a sequential, two-step amine and thiol coupling reaction via click chemistry using a derivative of Meldrum's acid. This reaction is reversible ...

Pulsar discovered in an ultraluminous X-ray source

September 26, 2016

(Phys.org)—A team of European astronomers has discovered a new pulsar in a variable ultraluminous X-ray source (ULX) known as NGC 7793 P13. The newly found object is the third ultraluminous X-ray pulsar detected so far, ...

Yeast knockouts peel back secrets of cell protein function

September 26, 2016

Proteins are the hammers and tongs of life, with fundamental roles in most of what happens in biology. But biologists still don't know what thousands of proteins do, and how their presence or absence affects the cell.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.