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A new Pew report “The Future of the Internet IV” written by Janna Anderson and Lee Raine is available online this morning. Pew Internet and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center asked 900 internet experts and stakeholders to react to two opposing statements about the direction and impact of the internet 10 years from now – that is, the year 2020. The survey explored the impact of the Internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, civic and political life. The report covers experts’ thoughts on the following issues:
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.’”
- 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.”
- 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.”
I agree with most comments discussed by the experts. Google won’t make us stupid. Instead, the new Web technology tool like Google allows us to locate the information and answers we want more intelligently and efficiently. We will be better informed and educated. I am optimistic about the future role the internet will play in all our lives. It is not surprising to learn that 80% of those who commented believe that new innovative technology will come out of the blue. I doubt many experts in 2000 thought Google Earth, 3D virtual world like Second Life, iPods, iPhones, voice IP phones, smartphones, multi-touch technology, Google Liquid Galaxy, and etc were available and popular today. I am interested to see the new innovative technologies that we will be using in 2015.
For viewing the complete report, you can access the Full Text in HTML and PDF on the PEW site. Also, links to previously released reports on “The Future of the Internet” is also available on the PEW site.