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For facts and fun, techs hit the internet

A global flood of news and entertainment

December 2013

Ever since it was invented way back in…let’s just say the last century, the Internet has revolutionized the way many of us live. Going online, we have upended the music and video industries, crushed printed data sources like encyclopedias, and driven snail mail into its shell.

The ‘Net has opened a global flood of news and information unimaginable twenty years ago - and the changes keep on coming. Fluke wanted to understand how technology-savvy Fluke customers are working the Internet into their own routines, so we surveyed Fluke News Plus readers last summer.

What we heard from 14 survey respondents confirms that regardless of their industries or jobs, techs today are connecting on the Internet for news, professional connections, and entertainment. (We suspect other readers were busy surfing the Web.)

Most survey participants work in the USA; we also had respondents from Canada and from Australia. They work in wide variety of industries: healthcare, manufacturing, mining, education, utilities, transportation, communication, and computers.

Five respondents work as electrician; two others work in R&D; and two are maintenance technicians. Others serve as system analyst, electronics technician, supervising engineer and biomedical engineering technologist. Michael, working in the USA, describes his job as “owner,” who does “everything.”

“I like up-to-date news”

The biggest single Internet draw for these users is news: 13 out of 14 (93 percent) say they go online to learn the latest. What kind of news? Some 86 percent say they’re after general news, while 64 percent say they seek news about work. The same number report going online in connection with their hobbies.

Why go to the Internet? Because if it isn’t new, it isn’t really news. “I like up-to-date news,” says Doyle, an industrial maintenance technician. And Cory, a biomedical engineering technologist in Canada, says he’s looking for “news as it happens, rather than waiting until 6 p.m.” Thirteen respondents (93 percent) say they read articles online, while 57 percent watch videos and 28 percent view online slide shows.

News isn’t the only reason to go online, of course. Nine respondents (64 percent) report that they participate in online forums connected with their jobs or their hobbies. They head for forums on astronomy, photography, electrical engineering, physics, mechanical engineering, computer engineering, and Fluke, as well as organization sites operated by the IEEE, ICEA and AEIC. Other forums that respondents mentioned included Mike Holt’s forum on the National Electric Code, Electrician Talk, the Mr PLC forum, the Eldergeek site for those working on early Windows systems, and Sim-Outhouse Forums if you dig old war birds.

“A lot of good information” - or not?

These techs also use social media channels like Facebook and YouTube, but not as much. Only eight (57 percent) of respondents report using social media. Of these, 75 percent say they use social media for entertainment, while seven of the eight (87 percent) use these channels for training.

The reason for such limited use may be the uncertain quality of social media content. But “One can get a lot of good information,” from social media, says Roy, who works R&D in the communications equipment and services industry.