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Summary of BEV Users and Services 1995

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January 1995 Scott Patterson and Andrea Kavanaugh

The Blacksburg Electronic Village (BEV) distributes a survey questionnaire to each person who registers for Internet services. The summary below highlights findings from an analysis of about 2,000 questionnaires, completed between October 1993 and January 1995. The total number of BEV users in Janaury 1995 was about 10,000.


User Profile

The majority (85%) of BEV users are affiliated with Virginia Tech; most (58%) are students, followed by faculty (27%); and staff (15%). The average age of users is 36 years; with males counting for 74% of the total. The overwhelming majority of users (93%) in this university town have some undergraduate or graduate schooling or have completed graduate degrees. About a quarter (26%) have some undergraduate education (or may still be in college); almost another quarter (23%) have completed college and have some graduate education (or are still in graduate school); over a third (35%) have completed graduate school. The mean income is in the $30 to 40,000 range; but all income brackets are represented (low income brackets include students).


Computer and Network Literacy

Not surprisingly, BEV users are more computer literate than network literate. The majority of people (82%) registering for BEV are somewhat or very experienced with computers. But almost two-thirds (62%) report being "only a little" or "not at all" experienced; only 12% report being very experienced with computer networking.

There is almost an even split (51-49%) between people who are the only users of their computers and those who are not. Forty-two percent (42%) report that this is not the only computer they own. The majority (82%) use a DOS-based computer; 15% use Macintosh.

Sources of Information

Most people learned about BEV through local media (46%). Other sources include the Collegiate Times , Virginia Tech employees (16%) and other BEV users (13%). A small number learned about the project through the BEV staff (5%) and Town staff (5%).

The most frequently read newspaper (more than once a month) among BEV users is the local newspaper The Roanoke Times and World Report (84%), followed by theWashington Post (7%), the Virginia Tech student paperThe Collegiate Times (5%). Most users (71%) subscribe to cable TV.


Expected Usefulness of Services

The network service that registrants are most interested in using is electronic mail; 94% report they are somewhat or very interested in email, followed by accessing information or data (93%), and bulletin boards, newsgroups (90%). Eighty-three percent are somewhat or very interested in accessing library catalogs, followed by transfering files (77%), and using remote computers (63%).

A BEV user ranking of the expected helpfulness of BEV services (that is, those reporting BEV services would be somewhat or very helpful), shows: informal learning (91%), civic affairs (62%), formal learning (64%), social relations (64%), support for work or business (65%), consumer affairs (70%), teaching (47%), entertainment (42%), and medical services (26%).