Internet: Line between virtual and real blurring

(The Internet has acquired a life of its own. Increasingly, the line between virtual and "real" worlds is blurring.
Be it business or leisure, online seems to be the way to go. With over 555 million sites on the Internet by 2011-end (millions are being added every year) and 7.38 billion indexed web pages as of August 1, 2012, not to mention the one million smartphone applications (2011 end figures) someone needs to make sense of all the information overload.
Starting this week, we bring you a weekly column that will try and keep you informed on some of the key developments in the world of the Internet and Smartphones. 
The writer, Sorab Ghaswalla, is a journalist with near three decades of experience, and has worked in some well-known Indian and international print and television media outfits like The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Economic Times, The Indian Express, the United News of India (UNI), The Gulf Today, India TV, and so on. 
With over a decade of digital media experience behind him, he has turned Internet entrepreneur and now runs an Internet specialties’ firm and also an Internet-related developments and news Website. Sorab spends 90% of his waking hours in the Web World)
Since this is my first column for NetIndian, I shall devote a part of it giving readers a quick roundup of where the digital world stands today. For those of you unfamiliar with my world (meaning, digital life) brace yourselves, for the statistics I reproduce here could blow you away.
There are many such figures floating around on the Net; I have chosen to follow one of the most authentic ones drawn up by Pingdom, an agency that monitors the “uptime” of a site on the Net.
Uptime means the amount of time a website is online, and downtime means when a website goes offline due to some reason.
Let us start with e-mail accounts. As of December 2011, there were 6 billion e-mail accounts. Every day, about 300 billon emails are being sent out. Approximately, 80% of these are spam.
There were 555 million sites as of December, 31, 2011. Of these, 300 million were added in 2011 itself. There were 95.5 million .com registered domain names till end 2011. Almost 14 million .net domain names and 9.3 million .org domain names till the end of last year. I am not even getting into the millions of other domain names like .edu, and so on.
Guess how many people used the Internet last year? 2.1 billion worldwide. The world’s total population is about 7.5 billion. Of the total Web users in 2011, 922 million were in Asia, 476 million were in Europe and 271.1 million were in North America. China had the highest number of users at 485 million, more than any other single country.
This next is interesting – of the 2.1 billion Internet users, 45% were under the age of 25 years.
India, which has the world's second highest population, had over 100 million users as of December 2011. The most number of users are found in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Goa and Kerala. At just over 12%, India's Net penetration is said to be quite low compared to some of the other larger nations.
In Asia, India had the second largest number of users after China. Japan comes third.
So what do we have here….that Internet penetration is increasing by every passing day, indeed hour, that the average age of a Net citizen is in the teens, that the Internet is only getting younger, and by that I mean, the average age of its users is going down even further. 
Which means, the digital world has now become an inseparable part of a child’s life.
Look around you. The children you see are either texting on their phones or chatting on Facebook. If not, then playing the latest online game by Rovio or Zynga (well known Game developers). That’s the importance of the digital world in our real world lives; if you thought otherwise, please do a re-check.
Recently, I did an interesting mental exercise. I tried to think of tasks that can still be done only in the real world, things that absolutely cannot be done online or by using a virtual alternative.
Here are some of them: Sex, sports, eating, dying. I realised the list was going to be small. Even for these, there exist tips and tricks, or even virtual versions. Like you can play chess online or tennis on an Xbox. Not the same, agreed, but even then...
So, in the coming weeks, I shall bring you updates from the digital world. Developments from the world of the Internet that have the potential of affecting your lives, online and offline. Hardware, content, software, smartphone apps…but more than anything, news about life in that parallel universe called the World Wide Web.
Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla
Sorab Ghaswalla has founded a Knowledge Services firm called New Age Content Services LLP, that leverages on the inherent strengths of the digital world. He also edits the website,
You can write to him at
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