Futures of the Internet

Pew Internet‘s latest report, Future of the Internet IV (that’s the Roman numeral IV — four — not the abbreviation for intravenous, which is how my bleary eyes read it at half past midnight, after a long day of travel), is out. Sez the Overview,

A survey of nearly 900 Internet stakeholders reveals fascinating new perspectives on the way the Internet is affecting human intelligence and the ways that information is being shared and rendered.

The web-based survey gathered opinions from prominent scientists, business leaders, consultants, writers and technology developers. It is the fourth in a series of Internet expert studies conducted by the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University and the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. In this report, we cover experts’ thoughts on the following issues:

I’m one of the sources quoted, in each of the sections. The longest quote is two links up, in the end-to-end question.

Sometime later I’ll put up my complete responses to all the questions. Meanwhile, enjoy a job well done by Janna Anderson, Lee Rainie and the crew at Elon University and Pew Internet. There’s much more from (and to, if you wish to contribute) both at Imagining the Internet.


  1. RBM’s avatar

    Internet with social media as diplomatic tool:

    The Digital Dictatorship

    Since the publication of John Perry Barlow’s “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” in 1996, they have been led to believe that cyberspace is conducive to democracy and liberty, and no government would be able to crush that libertarian spirit (why, then, Mr. Barlow felt the need to write such a declaration remains unknown to this day).

    Is it really unknown ?

    The belief that free and unfettered access to information, combined with new tools of mobilization afforded by blogs and social networks, leads to the opening up of authoritarian societies and their eventual democratization now forms one of the pillars of “techno-utopianism.”

    Just who determined this definition of techno-utopianism – besides this reporter ?

    I’m a bit irked on these points. Am I ‘off in the deep end’ ?

  2. Brett Glass’s avatar

    Doc, the questions asked in this “survey” were so unscientific and biased — as was the chosen pool of people questioned — that the results mean nothing.

  3. Doc Searls’s avatar

    My problem with most surveys of this sort is that they focus on transient current issues and miss the deep one that has been with us from the start: understanding what the Internet is and how we might improve it. I visited that topic in my answer to the “end do end” question. Don’t know if it helped, but I hoped it would, and I appreciate that they quoted so much of it.

  4. Adjunct Prof’s avatar

    Even if correct, these almost-arbitrary predictions will quickly become wrong. It’s similar, I think, to a broken clock being correct twice a day.

    As someone who appreciates the complexity of the weather, predicting how big trends associated with online experience are going to evolve is interesting, but ultimately nothing more. Social, political, technological, psychological, and economical forces are at work here. The well-meaning guy in Terre Haute who genuinely thinks Google has the capacity to make him dumb seems to have become the weather equivalent of a butterfly in the Amazon.

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