[Air-L] PIR Survey: Future of the Internet IV

Richard Forno rforno at infowarrior.org
Fri Feb 19 09:53:47 PST 2010

The Future of the Internet IV

In an online survey of 895 technology stakeholders’ and critics’  
expectations of social, political and economic change by 2020, fielded  
by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon  
University’s Imagining the Internet Center:

	• Google won’t make us stupid: 76% of these experts agreed with the  
statement, “By 2020, people’s use of the Internet has enhanced human  
intelligence; as people are allowed unprecedented access to more  
information they become smarter and make better choices. Nicholas Carr  
was wrong: Google does not make us stupid.” Some of the best answers  
are in Part 1 of this report.

	• Reading, writing, and the rendering of knowledge will be improved:  
65% agreed with the statement “by 2020 it will be clear that the  
Internet has enhanced and improved reading, writing and the rendering  
of knowledge.” Still, 32% of the respondents expressed concerns that  
by 2020 “it will be clear that the Internet has diminished and  
endangered reading, writing and the rendering of knowledge.” Some of  
the best answers are in Part 2 of this report.

	• Innovation will continue to catch us by surprise: 80% of the  
experts agreed that the “hot gadgets and applications that will  
capture the imaginations of users in 2020 will often come ‘out of the  
blue.’” Some of the best answers are in Part 3 of this report.

	• Respondents hope information will flow relatively freely online,  
though there will be flashpoints over control of the internet.  
Concerns over control of the Internet were expressed in answers to a  
question about the end-to-end principle. 61% responded that the  
Internet will remain as its founders envisioned, however many who  
agreed with the statement that “most disagreements over the way  
information flows online will be resolved in favor of a minimum number  
of restrictions” also noted that their response was a “hope” and not  
necessarily their true expectation. 33% chose to agree with the  
statement that “the Internet will mostly become a technology where  
intermediary institutions that control the architecture and …content  
will be successful in gaining the right to manage information and the  
method by which people access it.” Some of the best answers are in  
Part 4 of this report.

	• Anonymous online activity will be challenged, though a modest  
majority still think it will possible in 2020: There more of a split  
verdict among the expert respondents about the fate on online  
anonymity. Some 55% agreed that Internet users will still be able to  
communicate anonymously, while 41% agreed that by 2020 “anonymous  
online activity is sharply curtailed.”

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