A terrifying new quiz has indicated that the state of knowledge among Americans regarding IT topics is abysmally low: but the questions are such as to indicate that even the drafters of the quiz didn't know much.
The quiz in question is one from Pew Research, intended to find out "What Internet Users Know about Technology and the Web". It was conducted among a supposedly representative group of 1,066 American internet users earlier this year, by means of emailing them a link to the questionnaire.
It would seem that one major internet technique that most of the respondents had not grasped was the use of search engines to find things out, as their responses - despite the rather basic level of the questions - were stupefyingly ignorant.
For instance, asked whether it was true or false that Moore's Law relates to the number of transistors that can fit on a chip - a question which a collection of monkeys guessing at random should have got right 50 per cent of the time - just 31 per cent of respondents got the right answer. Again, only 28 per cent (in a similar True/False question) were aware that the World Wide Web and the internet are not the same thing.
Perhaps this sort of thing is no longer surprising. But the other questions in the survey indicated not only that the respondents didn't know much, but also that the drafters of the questions had some odd notions of what makes up a portfolio of solid IT knowledge.
Respondents were asked to pick Bill Gates and Sheryl Sandberg out of picture lineups, which was the first university on Facebook and what year the first iPhone came out.
There was only one question in the whole list which we here at the Register would regard as actually a bit techy, to wit, which was "the first widely popular graphical web browser" (just 9 per cent answered Mosaic, which was the answer the drafters were looking for - reasonable, as against the alternatives Navigator, IE and Opera).
There was no mention at all of the sort of things a reasonably well informed computer and internet user (not an expert) is aware of: TCP/IP itself, domain names, SSL/TLS, HTML, major OSes, Java, Flash, search engines and crawlers etc etc - let alone matters more advanced, which people who actually make their living in technology could be expected to know about.
You can check out the quiz and the results here: and let us know if we're just being too demanding - or not strict enough - in the comments. ®