Anderson's book wins
praise from internet folks

 

A new book examining the development and future of the Internet, written by Elon University School of Communications faculty member Janna Quitney Anderson, is winning praise from technology pioneers and journalists.

Anderson's book, "Imagining the Internet: Personalities, Predictions, Perspectives" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), is a companion to a Web site (www.elon.edu/predictions) and research project she developed in partnership with the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The book's foreword is by Lee Rainie, director of Pew Internet and former managing editor of U.S. News & World Report. Anderson's book zeroes in on communications history and how the Internet's future has been seen by technology stakeholders over the past 15 years. It puts the imagined future in perspective and examines the serious impact of pervasive networks, detailing how they are likely to change our lives over the next century.

The people who previewed the book to write the jacket blurbs gave it praise:

"Janna Anderson offers a great perspective on the history and future of the Internet," wrote Gordon Bell, a senior researcher at Microsoft who led the National Science Foundation's Information Superhighway Initiative. "Good books come from thorough research... Being a part of and having the last word in this fine past-and-future Internet chronicle is a real honor."

CNN technology writer Christine Boese reported the book "is packed with interesting facts and milestones... My favorite part in these excursions into the words of technology prophets and critics is picking out the threads that had an influence - that helped shape the larger visions of what this massive commons has become."

Webby Awards founder and chairperson Tiffany Shlain wrote, "Janna Anderson illuminates with great clarity the history, dreams and challenges of the internet, which allow the reader to see glimpses of the future. A wonderful and important contribution."

Anderson, an assistant professor and the director of Internet projects for Elon's School of Communications, began research for the book in 2000. She has been assisted in two major research efforts with the Pew Internet and American Project by nearly 100 communications students as part of their coursework, including the building of portions of the "Imagining the Internet" Web site, which was launched in January 2005.

In addition to providing areas on which people can post their own predictions about the future, the site includes more than 4,000 early 1990s internet predictions and it details results of a 2004 survey of nearly 1,300 technology experts who made predictions about the next decade of Internet development.

A 2005 survey of technology stakeholders will be added this year on the ever-evolving site. Anderson received a $10,500 grant from Pew Internet to work on this continuation of the research. The results of the 2004 Elon-Pew Experts Survey received worldwide media attention, led by a story in the New York Times. More than 150 media outlets picked up on the story via wire services, and scores of Web sites in the United States, Europe and the Far East posted links to the "Imagining the Internet" Web site. Approximately 100,000 copies of the study have been downloaded.

Building on the site's predictions database, the book also shares concepts of such thinkers as Ithiel de Sola Pool, George Orwell, Marshall McLuhan, Vannevar Bush, Duncan Watts, Fritjof Capra and Isaac Asimov, while parsing the thoughts of Bill Gates, Nicholas Negroponte, John Perry Barlow, Bruce Sterling, Clifford Stoll, Al Gore, and dozens of other networked communications stakeholders and skeptics.

In his foreword for the book, Rainie praises the contributions made by the work of Elon faculty, staff and students in building the "Imagining the Internet" site and book.

"Of all the things we have done, nothing has taught us as much and made us think as expansively as this effort," Rainie wrote. "We are very grateful to Janna Quitney Anderson, her Elon University colleagues, and their students for their dogged, shoe-leather work in tracking these predictions down - and for the synthesis and analysis Anderson shares in this book... On our best days at the Project, we hope we produce material that is valued as a 'public good' by other researchers and those who want to understand the role of the internet in American life. The creation of the Predictions Database, the thoughtful insights offered by experts willing to share new predictions, the contributions of the public at large as people submit their visions [to the site], and the fund of knowledge available in this book are the kind of public good we were funded to create."

The "Imagining the Internet" book is available online from the publisher, Rowman & Littlefield (256 pages, $27.95 paperback; $75 hardcover) and at other major online booksellers, including Barnes & Noble.com, which offers discounted prices ($20.10 and $60) on both paperback and hardcover versions.

 

 

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Last Modified:  8/24/05
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