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About Imagining the Internet

A Project of the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University

The Imagining the Internet Center's mission is to explore and provide insights into emerging network innovations, global development, dynamics, diffusion and governance. Its research holds a mirror to humanity's use of communications technologies, informs policy development, exposes potential futures and provides a historic record. It works to illuminate issues in order to serve the greater good, making its work public, free and open. This history-and-forecast site's design reflects its times - pages are set in templates designed at the time the content was created. Because of this, you will see varied looks to the site. The Imagining the Internet Center sponsors work that brings people together to share their visions for the future of communications and the future of the world. Find out more by viewing the 5-minute video below...

The contact for connection is center director Janna Quitney Anderson (andersj@elon.edu).

To see the full, 11-minute version of the video, go to http://youtu.be/O8H23pKqv00.

The center is a network of Elon University faculty, students, staff, alumni, advisers and friends working to identify, explore and engage with the challenges and opportunities of evolving communications forms and issues. They investigate the tangible and potential pros and cons of new-media channels through active research. Among the spectrum of issues addressed are power, politics, privacy, property, augmented and virtual reality, control and the rapid changes spurred by accelerating technology.

What You Will Find on This Award-Winning Site

The Elon University site Imagining the Internet: A History and Forecast is a multi-section resource containing thousands of pages. It exposes future possibilities while simultaneously providing a peek back at the past. In it, you will find the words of thousands of people from every corner of the world, from today and from yesterday, making thousands of predictive pronouncements about the future of humankind.

  • This resource features special explanatory sections on the future and past development of communications networks (Time Capsule: Forward 150/Back 150).
  • It includes video and audio interviews recorded at global events that reveal future hopes and challenges as expressed by hundreds of Internet leaders, including Vint Cerf, Douglas Engelbart, Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Kahn (Event Coverage).
  • It has informative areas targeted to benefit children and teachers of elementary, middle school, high school and college students use the site to educate (KidZone and Teachers' Tips).
  • It offers thousands of world citizens' discussions of our future – from top experts (Surveys) your neighbor down the block or a farmer from across the world (Voices of the People).
  • It allows you to add your vision to the collection by opening up a "Share Your Prediction" form and telling us what you think. Just look for the phrase Share Your Prediction - found on the lower-left side or at the top right of every page.
  • The site shares a look back at what people were saying in the 1990s during the "awe" stage of the development of the internet (Time Capsule: Early '90s Predictions Database).
  • And it records a legacy of predictive statements as they are made, continuously building a historic record of lasting value that documents the way we see ourselves as we move into an explosion of changes wrought by the combination of human ingenuity, human networks and rapidly evolving technologies.

More details about the evolution of Imagining the Internet can be found here: 

Details about the builders of the site can be found here: 

Why Is It Vital to Study the Future?

Better policy choices and social planning can be accomplished if the coming impact of new technologies can be accurately pre-assessed. Read a brief explanation of the importance of forward-thinking and pre-planning here. Access suggestions for cultivating futures thinking here.