Peter Schilling — the director of information technology at Amherst College — crunched the numbers on the technological habits of this year’s incoming class, and discovered some fascinating stuff. He’s published it online as the “IT Index”, crafted in the style of a Harper’s Index, and it’s an intriguing snapshot of some of the technologically-driven behavioral changes that will mark the next generation.
Below are a few of my favorite stats, culled from the list. As you read, keep in mind that this incoming class has 438 students in it:
Percentage of first-year applicants who applied online in 2003: 33%.
Percentage of applicants who did last year: 89%.
By the end of August 2008 the total number of members and posts at the Amherst College Class of 2012 Facebook group: 432 members and 3,225 posts.
Students in the class of 2012 who registered computers, IPhones, game consoles, etc. on the campus network by the end of the day on August 24th, the day they moved into their dorm rooms: 370 students registered 443 devices.
Number of students in the class of 2012 who brought desktop computers to campus: 14.
Likelihood that a student with an iPhone/iTouch is in the class of 2012: approximately 1 in 2.
Total number of students on campus this year that have landline phone service: 5.
Mac or PC? Of the four classes currently on campus the classes of 2009 and 2010 are more likely to own Windows, while the classes of 2011 and 2012 are more likely to own Macs.
Okay, so, landlines are now officially a dead-man-walking technology: Only 1.1% of kids today have one. Meanwhile, Facebook has achieved precisely the opposite: A completely insane level of market penetration, at 98.63%. And Steve Jobs? Your work here is done.
Granted, the landline result is no doubt skewed by the fact that students who are only spending eight months a year on campus are less likely to get a personal landline in the first place, even absent the existence of mobile phones. But still, it’s a pretty remarkable death knell for a technology.
I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).
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