Imagining the Internet Project

  Responses in reaction to the following statement were assembled from a select group of 1,286 Internet stakeholders in the fall 2004 Pew Internet & American Life Predictions Survey. The survey allowed respondents to select from the choices "agree," "disagree" or "I challenge" the predictive statement. Some respondents chose to expand on their answer, writing an explanation of their position; many did not. Some respondents chose to identify themselves with each answer; many did not. We share some - not all - of the responses here. Workplaces of respondents whose reactions are listed below are attributed here only for the purpose of indicating a level of internet expertise; the statements reflect personal viewpoints and do not represent their companies' or government agencies' policies or positions. Some answers have been edited in order to share more respondents' replies. Below is a selection of the many carefully considered responses to the following statement.
 
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Prediction on personal ent./media environment
By 2014, all media, including audio, video, print and voice, will stream in and out of the home or office via the internet. Computers that coordinate and control video games, audio, and video will become the centerpiece of the living room and will link to networked devices around the household, replacing the television's central place in the home.

Compiled reactions from the 1,286 respondents:
  53% of internet experts agreed
  18% disagreed
  10% challenged the prediction
  19% did not respond


Unless the digital-rights-management cops shut this all down, this prediction is coming true sooner than 10 years. Eventually, every thing digitized in the world (movies, music, books, newspapers, etc.) will be available from the network through peer-to-peer like networks. The net will become a giant "Tivo," and will have every song, every movie, every TV show (from some point on), every sports game, every news broadcast, ever created. People will obtain it over the net - and send it within their homes wirelessly to devices that are hybrids of what we call computers and televisions today. - Gary Bachula, Internet2

Media access won't be exclusively through the internet; it will include many types of IP networks including private (e.g. cable, satellite) and public networks (e.g. datacasting, fixed wireless). TV will lose time-share to the media PC and media appliances, but it will remain central to mainstream households. The tipping point away from TV will be further down the road, perhaps closer to 2020 when our 24-year-olds turn 40. - James Brancheau, VP, GartnerG2

They will all be available, but it's not clear that Internet will be the delivery vehicle of choice in 2014. It is inherently less efficient than multicast media, and data volumes are still an issue. - J. Scott Marcus, Federal Communications Commission

Centerpiece of the living room? Puhleeze. Still, the television is not now the central place in the home. - Moira Gunn, Tech Nation

I will add that the TV will still play a central role as a display. - Mike Kelly, America Online

There is growing convergence of electronic media that will make the computer the primary entertainment device in homes, replacing the many different devices currently in use. - Gary Kreps, George Mason University

This presupposes an affluence that is not reality. Such broad-based connectivity requires costly subscriptions, tech know-how, housing flexibility and an interest in leisure activities beyond television - beyond the capacity for a vast number of Americans. - Tobey Dichter, Generations on Line, a non-profit internet literacy program

All this will be available by 2014, but will not be as universal as, say, DVD players are today. Nor will it be the ONLY form of connectivity. But it will be an option for many and the devices that can network around the house will be mainstream. - Benjamin M. Compaine, communications policy expert, editor of "The Digital Divide: Facing a Crisis or Creating a Myth?" and co-author of "Who Owns the Media?"

This is at the heart of my new book. I think an attempt to identify the black box through which media convergence occurs is misguided. We live in a culture defined as much by divergence of communications technologies as we do one defined by convergence. Culturally, we already live in a world where messages, ideas, brands, characters, stories, content flows fluidly across media platforms and people make connections between information gleamed from many different media sources. We will of course see various attempts to technologically integrate those flows. Our cell phones are more and more the digital version of the Swiss Army Knife, but I don't think this will ever be reduced to a single channel of communication in the way you describe above. - Henry Jenkins, MIT Comparative Media Studies, author of "Convergence Culture"

This is already happening to some extent with the rise of broadband. But TVs might well become more like computers, rather than computers becoming more TV-like. Perhaps the TV will become part of that network hub for media. The problem is the high cost of these systems, which should come down to some extent by 2014. - Mark Glaser, Online Journalism Review/Online Publishers Association

I agree with the streaming and beaming of all media, but I do not agree that it will center on the new "hearth" of the home. I believe media will be small, personalized, and wearable. We might connect to a display system periodically, but it is more likely to be impromptu small gatherings - decentralized use throughout the home. - Christine Geith, Michigan State University

Such systems will be possible, but the question is whether people will use them. People are often slow to change things in the home. - David Tewksbury, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Most homes (like most well-run businesses today) will use a variety of feeds and deploy a variety of networks to avoid critical reliance on any one. - Philip Virgo, secretary general, EURIM - UK-based Parliament Industry Group/also works with IMIS - UK-based profesional body for management of information systems

This will certainly be the case for those who can afford it. One of the opposing pressure will be the rapidity with which each technology makes the previous "solution" obsolete, and consumers' eventual resistance to the cost of "keeping up to date." It used to be you'd buy a camera and use it for one or two decades; now, the digital camera you bought two years ago is already screaming to be replaced. The same goes for MP3 players, DVD standards (and future storage options), screen technology, and so on. - Rose Vines, freelance tech writer, Australian PC User and Sydney Morning Herald

All media will stream through the Internet but alternative sources will still be in use by a generation weaned on them. Devices that control household data-flows and link devices will become more ubiquitous - however where in the home they will be and what component they are attached to is still unclear. - Jonathan Peizer, CTO, Open Society Institute

Yes... BUT. You're talking about a controller, not just a receiver/display which was TV set's role for 50 years. The current cable/satellite STBs fulfill part of this role, although they are still primarily receivers. The future media-center computer, which will be widespread but not universal by 2014, will be a steppingstone toward the on-demand environment you're describing. - Gary Arlen, Arlen Communications

Someday all telecommunications to and from the home will be digital and packet-switched, but whether it will be in ten years or fifty I can't say. And people will still be couch-potatoing in front of moving images on a video screen in the future, digital or no. - Tom Streeter, University of Vermont

Whatever you call it, a big HD screen with good audio around it will still be the central place of home and you can watch channels on it and check/display other information resources. So why not call it a "television"? And the entertainment systems (and other house hold appliances) will be networked, together and to the outside. But I don't think it will be The internet. It will be local and community IP-based networks, private networks with and to friends. There will be a link to the internet somewhere, but as said, I don't believe it will be the prime source of the data coming in. - Egon Verharen, innovation manager, SURFnet (Dutch National Education & Research Network)

Part of this prediction is true - that all media will flow through the Internet in some fashion instead of being through proprietary channels and networks. However, the television is already not central in many households, as many households have multiple televisions throughout their households. Enhancement devices such as PVRs and MP3 playing systems as well as enhancements to traditional TVs and audio systems will simply take the place of or the place near existing devices, just as the DVD is replacing the VCR but is only marginally increasing where movies are watched. - Dan Ness, MetaFacts

There are too many easy, profitable and reasonable ways to write personal computers completely out of the individual media delivery channel that I predict they will be written out in all but hard-core-geek homes. There is no easy or profitable way, however, to write server computers out of the distribution channel. The Internet may come in over the electric wiring in the house, in addition to twisted pairs or cable. Dial-tone-level control panels mounted on the wall or on the media delivery device (that are as easy to use as a microwave oven control panel) will deliver subscribed-to access to whatever entertainment the family wants. Or, yes, I'm going to say this: another "clicker" to lose in the couch. - Elle Tracy, The Results Group

I agree this will happen. I think it'll take till the 2018-2020 time frame, though. Look how long it took HiDef to replace NTSC. A huge installed base is a powerful hysteresis generator. - Mike O'Brien, The Aerospace Corporation

TV is King. The passivity of it and the volume of options (not to mention HD whenever it comes) will keep it alive in the living room. By 2014 ''TVs'' will be smart devices that act like computers and media servers. So some of the functions you note above will be true, but TVs will be with us. Remember what they represent - passive engagement (an information feeding tube). Computers require more - input, searching, etc. After a hard days work, most of us want to sit and watch or listen to our devices, not interact with them. When we do interact, we hope to enhance our immediate curiosity about a sports figure, actor, etc., but then we revert right back to passive mode. Smart TVs will do this for us. What's more, since media will be all over the place - more ''family'' time could emerge as an unexpected benefit of better technology (i.e. Tivo 10 allows us to spend more time w/ the kids b/c Dad's favorite shows are being recorded). - B. Keith Fulton, Verizon Communications

The only thing I would add is that the notion of what is ''internet'' will become irrelevant. Meaning that the distribution mechanism and devices will be largely irrelevant. What will matter is that media will be interactive, largely pervasive and subject to increasing user control. - Sam Punnett, FAD Research

The computer will not be the ''centerpiece of the living room'' or replace ''the television's central place in the home.'' The computer will be located in the home office or basement, and the integration will be wireless and invisible. The television will be replaced by screens that can stream a variety of media or applications, and will be located in several rooms of the house. - William Stewart, LivingInternet.com

And the following are from predictors who chose to remain anonymous: [Workplaces of respondents whose reactions are listed below include Internet2, SBC, AT&T, MSNBC, Georgia Centers for Advanced Telecommunications Technology, Microsoft, U.S. Congressional Budget Office, Penn State University, RAND, University of Minnesota, Media General, Council on Competitiveness, NBC-Universal, Princeton University, EPCOR, Northwestern University, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Carnegie Mellon, United Kingdom Department of Trade and Industry, Comcast, Advanced Microdevices, FCC, Library of Congress, Stanford University, Gartner, Jupitermedia, Intel and others.]

I agree that we'll have this potential and some segment of the population will see this environment. But the majority of the public will not have the resources or level of involvement to consume media in this fashion. The newspaper will continue to exist, as will print magazines and portable media devices.

While I agree that media will move online, I do not believe that PCs with standard operating systems will migrate to the living room. Instead, I think smarter appliances will assume that role, since they are much less expensive, and easier to use than PCs are. These appliances (e.g. Tivo on steroids) are more likely to replace television.

Hey, I am working on it! - One of many anonymous participants from Microsoft

To many "ifs" for a ten-year outcome.

Without some radical changes in wireless and the amount of bandwidth available, there will be a need for radio, TV, and other electronic mass media. The present wired and wireless Internet basically is lower-bandwidth than telephony, without building an "electronic superhighway" - which all politicians love but no one wants to pay for.

I agree, but wonder if the common distribution network will still be called the Internet and if the screen that people watch will be called a computer or a TV. These are just names - the experience will be similar although the viewer will have more control over what he/she watches, when and where.

This will be an option available to some, and it will be part of a range of media services that people can choose. This range of options and media will be incredibly rich, diverse and difficult to characterize.

While computers will be the hubs of the networks, I prefer to take the view that the hub will control the various devices. Many have often held the belief that all data will converge into one device and that one device will take the place of all other devices. Your question, itself is contradictory, because, on one hand, you contend that the computer will be the centerpiece; on the other hand, you also content that there will be various networked devices around the home. Can't have it both ways. Yes, computers that are networked in the house will function as a system. No, they won't take the place of the television, although they will likely be controlled by networked computers. And no, we won't all gather around the computer in the living room. The notion that "a" computer will be in the home is the first flawed assertion in the statement. Summing it up: the computer will converge the data so it can then be distributed to myriad divergent, smart, computer-like devices with various uses around the home.

I'm not entirely sure it will be the Internet, but I do expect convergence of media to a packet-based infrastructure, and the emergence of home networks that integrate and transform the current generations of computers, entertainment devices and appliances.

Technology is there but the cost of running "fiber" to the home will not change slow movement in that direction.

Largely true. The exception may be the local newspaper. The Internet hasn't yet figured out how to do this well.

Excluding, of course, the homes of the poor, who will continue to get information and media via television and radio. The digital divide will deepen not only between the wealthy and the poor, the wired and the unwired, but also the educated and the uneducated.

The predictions are all pretty much correct, but the time frame is overly optimistic. These things will happen, but probably over a 20-year time frame. And whether TV, as a passive entertainment experience, gets replaced, or simply becomes one element in the overall experience of multimedia, remains to be seen.

Cable and satellite will still be distributing a lot of the video to the home in 10 years, though it will all be digital.

This is totally inconsistent with prior experience. Changes will be substantial but they will not affect all homes, and new media or delivery ways will not replace old ones.

The entire home entertainment system won't change that quickly. These things are more expensive for the average user to upgrade than some may realize.

Yes - some form of networked device will replace TV; no - there will be others sources of media as well.

The Internet will be one of many pipes into the home.

Families will react and challenge the pervasiveness of the "centrepiece in the living room."
Except, of course, that the big screen will still have pride of place.

The need for this kind of networked media is low so that television will still be the central entertainment system. Personal devices aimed at individual use will be streaming.

The convergence of computers and television as a technology will occur - and that "entertainment center" will be the new TV in "the central place." But just as television did not replace radio and print media, this entertainment center will not replace all other forms. Likewise, as TV has spread throughout the home, it is wrong to place the entertainment center as "the center of the living room." The wired house will operate on many levels throughout the home.

No more than 50% of the population will experience this due to cost, and the slow roll-out of "big broadband" to the home.

The Internet is becoming "data electricity" and increasingly is the conduit by which information and entertainment enters the home and is enjoyed and shared with others inside and outside the home. This will probably happen before 2014.

Are mobile phones "the internet"? Why "the living room," and why "the centerpiece"? What of ubiquitous computing?

Agree except that you won't think of it as the Internet. It will probably be packetized, but you'll have certain streams prioritized to avoid interruption ... and third-party companies will have to pay to be prioritized in the bitstream.

Television will be replaced, but I'm not confident that computers will reign supreme. It may be cell phones or some other device, just being invented.

The right model for delivering media remains up in the air. Many analysts thought video conferencing was going to be huge - it did not turn out that way. We are still waiting for the promise to turn into a market. It could be the Internet, but frankly it was never set up to deliver this type of content. There are companies out there right now trying to figure out which model will work. I am not yet convinced streaming is the answer.

The Internet will play a big role, but there will always be a place for traditional print media (or at very least, books, especially fiction). Even George Jetson used paper from time to time.

There will be a large and very noticeable increase in the amount of media accessed online, streamed and downloaded for on demand use. But in the average American household, the TV will still be the centerpiece.

Not by 2014, but one day as the technology can do it. America has a lower broadband penetration than developed Europe, so if this does happen, it will happen in Europe first. However, there are massive regulatory hurdles in the way.

Not via the Internet - too expensive - but via IP-based services mostly on closed systems from the network provider. I agree with the home-networking point.

For a small percentage of the world's population. The rest will probably be even less connected as the wealth continues to concentrate in the hands of the few who can afford these luxuries.

Yup, I expect nearly everything we do for communication will be online soon. Might be later than 2014 before everyone has retooled, but I believe it's coming. Will it replace the TV? No, the TV itself will be networked and have far better display capabilities.

The promise of broadband will remain elusive and will not deliver; the television will never be replaced by the computer.

I only challenge the timing. The cost at the household level for this sweeping change may be too high for widespread penetration within a decade. If costs are minimal and usage is simple (an important factor), it is likely to take hold.

As long as the visual senses can be stimulated, the Internet will enjoy popularity. Whether it be TV or PC, a visual display screen has to be the focal point for personal entertainment.

I don't think the TV qua TV will disappear anymore than the radio disappeared with the advent of TV.

There will be choices of how to receive and manage this content; the devices will be networked.

That's certainly what my company hopes!

It will happen by 2009.

''All media''? All? No. Some/a lot? Yes.

Yup, and I can't wait. Some of this is already possible today - but is expensive - so beyond the reach of most.

Newsprint isn't that easy to kill.

It's probably true even though it doesn't sound like a pleasant prospect.

[There are far] too many assumptions wrapped up in this question. The television monitor, as the largest display in the home, and the one around which people can gather for a social experience, will not be displaced by these other devices. The home server you describe will be the functional centerpiece of the home network, but it does not have to be the centerpiece of the living room and will be most successful when it is invisible and its functions transparent. It may even be distributed across several networked devices, as we see PVR (personal video recorder) technology already becoming common in multiple boxes, notably the cable/satellite controller and DVD player/writers. Television broadcasting, as the sole or main means of getting content onto the TV display, will share access to it (and to all the devices) with broadband and other physical media such as portable memory (like tiny flash drives for music players and cameras), DVDs and massive in-home hard drives. But broadcasting will remain an efficient and effective means of mass communication, just as physical delivery of paper mail continues in the age of TV, radio, and email. It changes, but it doesn't die.

I agree that digital media will be transported by the Internet and will have taken the place of the TV; I think textual media will still persist in a combination of digital media and paper.

Consumers will continue to demand high fidelity in sound, pictures, and other attributes of their information and entertainment media. Some of this is best distributed by dedicated networks (like broadcast or satellite radio and TV); some can be downloaded over the Internet for ''playback'' through high-fidelity devices.

Other communications are more efficient. Try out XM radio. If I have XM radio, what do I need to do that over the Internet for? Broadcasting services are not well suited for Internet design. But then there is that SUN vision of the future where every move ever made is downloaded to a box in your home, which the individual views on demand. I think people still like entertainment services - the iPOD does not replace radio completely because people like to hear new things; they like to hear what they have not heard before; they are bored by their own play list.

Already happening. Broadband penetration is over 50 percent, the power grid adaptation to a broadband network will accelerate this; devices will become simpler. This one's a no-brainer.

A television is just a display. I don't see displays going away. STBs have had chips in them for years and no one seems to have noticed. So I don't see a whole lot of change - TV as a display will remain a central part of the home.

TV is already dead. Kids are spending more time on games in network game worlds. The largest demographic of gamers is women over 40. Legacy home-entertainment systems are the ball around our ankle ... We are seeing a transformation of media and cyberspace. It happened 10 years ago. Didn't you see it? Are you there now? ONLINE GAME WORLDS. Alpha World may have failed, but it was an indicator species. The media-and-cognitive landscape has shifted. Convergence is a false notion. We are seeing divergence, new systems, processes and products, not combinations of the old. McLuhan said it of course: ''rear-view mirror.'' The capital "I" internet is dead. Networking everything through all kinds of methods is where we are. TIVO is an indicator species too. Watch the 8-year-olds; it is for them what it is not to us. They are the answer to how it is now and how it will be in the future.


 

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