Imagining the Internet Project

  Responses in reaction to the following rank-ordering question were assembled from a select group of internet stakeholders in the 2006 Pew Internet & American Life/Elon University Predictions Survey. The survey supplied respondents with selected issues and asked that they rank them in order of importance. Respondents were encouraged to provide a written elaboration to explain their answers; they did not always do so, but those who did provided richly detailed predictive material. 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 shared 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', universities', or government agencies' policies or positions. Some answers have been edited to share more respondents' replies. This is a selection of the many carefully considered responses.  
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descriptionRanking Issues...
Building the world network: If you were in charge of setting priorities about where to spend the available funds for developing information and communications technologies (predominantly the internet) to improve the world, how would you rank-order the following international concerns. Please number these from 1 to 4, with 1 being the highest priority.

(Following are compiled numerical reactions from the 742 respondents. Numbers listed denote the total picking each item as the first priority, a more detailed breakdown of 1-2-3-4 orders is available in the full report.)

51% selected:Building the capacity of the network and passing along technological knowledge to those not currently online. These efforts would focus on extending network infrastructure and tech support that helps people learn how to use it to areas of the world that are not connected. The goal would be to make the internet affordable and accessible for as many people as possible.

32% selected: Creating a legal and operating environment that allows people to use the internet the way they want, using the software they want. These efforts would involve cultivation of universal infrastructure standards, backed by political and legal support, that would allow multiple platforms to work on the internet. The goal would be to discourage the possibility of a hardware or software monoculture.

8% selected:Developing and "arming" an effective international security watchdog organization. This enforcement unit would be given enough authority to help prevent the proliferation of criminal and terrorist acts carried out through the use of ICTs.

8% selected: Establishing an easy-to-use, secure international monetary microcredit system. This option would foster economic advances of all sorts in developing nations. For instance, Dick and Jane in Hoboken, New Jersey, can use the internet to learn about and help finance Ubu and Kwana's farm in Nigeria.

Below are select written responses from survey participants who agreed to be identified with their statements. To read reactions from anonymous participants responding to this question, please click here.

Providing access and literacy is paramount - people are inventive and creative, and the history of the telephone and the Internet should have taught us that nobody can predict what uses people will invent for such malleable media. However, without affordable access, knowledge of how to use the technology, and the legal and operating environment that permits innovation, we won't see the creative explosion we saw with personal computers and the Internet. Digital Rights Management, "trusted computing" that bakes restrictions into hardware, and extensions of copyright law such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are roadblocks that could strangle a global creative renaissance before it can take root worldwide. - Howard Rheingold, internet sociologist and author; one of the first writers to illuminate the ideals and foibles of virtual communities; internet user since 1990

Unless we find ways to curb spam, identity theft, cyber extortion, virus writing, and other such criminal activity, people will not WANT to use the enhanced IT environment that the other three choices present. Technology alone (or even primarily) cannot solve this problem - we will need international response to bad actors, with appropriate investigation and punishment. - Eugene Spafford, professor and executive director for Purdue University's CERIAS (the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security – a web-based incident-response database); internet user since 1980

Somewhere between 1 and 3 above, invest in enabling lots of people (wisely chosen, perhaps) to create content, services and communities on the Internet; and, re 2, attend to convergence with TV/radio/telephony/publishing etc. in creating the legal environment. Re 3, a single "watchdog organizations" seems less preferable, and less viable, than an active network of national, functional, and cross-national and cross-functional bodies with solid agreements among them. - Alejandro Pisanty, CIO for UNAM (National University of Mexico); vice chairman of the board for ICANN; member of United Nations' Working Group for Internet Governance; active in ISOC; internet user since 1977

The second and fourth items on the list above are IMO mostly irrelevant. The Internet is solving those problems on its own and doesn't need "help" from governments (or whoever). - Thomas Narten, IBM open-internet standards development; Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) liaison to ICANN; internet user since 1983

The open source development model must be applied to currency, as well. Interest-bearing centralized currency is the final obstacle to a collaborative international network. – Douglas Rushkoff, author of many books about net culture, teacher, New York University; internet user since 1985

These are all critically important policy pursuits. One result that I would expect to happen would be a natural flow towards greater democratic tendencies in many developing and even developed countries, including more participatory debates and a higher rate of participation in political elections (through secure electronic voting). - Jim McConnaughey, senior economic adviser active in U.S. policy on access and the digital divide, including work at the Federal Communications Commission, Harvard and the National Telecommunications & Information Administration

This is the most important part. It is very difficult to give the accurate answer. I feel everybody should know the benefit and problems of using Internet and this should get the first priority. In order to avoid extreme situations which are not anticipated earlier, number two should be considered. - Lutfor Rahman, executive director of Association for Advancement of Information Technology and vice-chancellor of Pundra University of Science and Technology, Bangladesh; internet user since 1996

Cybersecurity and infrastructure protection will remain the highest priority. Next-Generation Network legal norms, regulations, and standards will likely have proliferated so as to all for flexible use to the extent that is achievable given other priorities like security and infrastructure protection. - Anthony Rutkowski, VP for regulatory and standards, Verisign; a co-founder and former executive director of the Internet Society; active leader in International Telecommunication Union (ITU); internet user since 1979

The highest priority is to make sure that the Internet can continue to foster economic and social growth and development for everyone (in all cultures) via innovation, competition, and free speech (e.g. uncensored and unmonitored packets). My second priority among these is making the opportunities of the Internet and its commerce and social sharing of ideas available to all who wish to use it. I think the ordinary industrial finance system will get around to arranging an international monetary microcredit system as it is feasible to do so. Credit cards are getting close. I want trusted intermediaries to assure me that Ubu and Kwana's farm really exists and that the pictures are not from somewhere else. I will not willingly choose to give up my privacy so that some international security organization can decide to intervene when they think it appropriate. - Glenn Ricart, executive director, Price Waterhouse Coopers Advanced Research; member of the board of trustees of the Internet Society; internet user since 1968

Capacity and, next, enabling factors for effective "global community" use should (in a perfect world) be a higher priority than the legal and monitoring issues but I would personally prefer to see these four choises as two linked subsets of coordinated activity. - Cheryl Langdon-Orr, independent internet business operator and director for ISOC-Australia; internet user since 1977

Capacity building should be the prime focus - not just machines, but people and getting them to do new and wonderful things with technology. A microcredit scheme would reach out to a new "capital market" that would benefit primarily those in the developing world (actually not necessarily as this could apply anywhere) who would otherwise find it hard to finance their small ventures. The funder would decide on the risk and partake in the necessary course of action (hopefully) without banking bureaucracy - a very practical outcome. It would also be important to ensure that the world communications infrastructure is allowed to evolve and be not reliant on a monoculture type approach. Increasingly ICTs have become a new tool for criminals and terrorists, and it is important to think about and take the necessary protective measures, however this must not be at the peril of freedom of expression and basic human rights. - Rajnesh J. Singh, PATARA Communications & Electronics Ltd., Avon Group, GNR Consulting, ISOC Pacific Islands; internet user since 1993

Education is key to Internet deployment and use, and is something I am directly involved with. I therefore placed it first. Prevention and detection of criminal activity is one aspect of security, and security is important; I therefore listed it as number 2. The microcredit scheme is an interesting possible application, but IMHO not something I would automatically place ahead or behind other interesting possible applications. I would simply include that in the mix given that someone wanted to do it. Prevention of a monoculture doesn't require law, it requires economics - says an Apple user... So I placed the computer and application monoculture item last. It is something I would simply leave to anti-trust law. Each of these is something I expect to happen, and is in the process of happening now. I don't know that we need an "Internet Police" per se, but various police forces are very interested in the use of the Internet by their adversaries. I don't know that microfinancing as a vehicle for international philanthropy actually works, but finding ways to extend credit/debit card systems to developing countries can be a way of helping them close the digital divide in commerce. - Fred Baker, CISCO Fellow, CISCO Systems, Internet Society (ISOC) chairman of the board; Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF); internet user since 1987

Young internet enthusiasts often forget that Internet rides on communication networks - yes, the old-fashioned telecommunication networks, a trillion-dollar industry. Therefore we should emphasize both and not only Internet and its related software - D.K. Sachdev, founder and president, SpaceTel Consultancy LLC (management and engineering support to organizations engaged in operating and/or developing total systems for broadband, multimedia, Internet, telecommunications and digital satellite broadcasting); early developer of XM Radio; internet user since 1987

In ranking the development of a favorable legal and operating environment as #1, I do not imply that government and laws should do much. Quite the contrary - I want government and laws to mostly GET OUT OF THE WAY! First and foremost, government MOSTLY serves itself first (and serves its most powerful supporters second) - and that is perhaps the foremost danger. - Jim Warren, internet pioneer (founding editor of Dr. Dobb's Journal), technology-policy advocate and activist, futurist; internet user since 1970

The challenge is and remains helping majority of our brothers and sisters in vast underserved places in the world. - Tunji Lardner, CEO for the West African NGO network: wangonet.org; agendaconsulting.biz; has held various consultancies for the World Bank and United Nations as well as being a resource person and consultant to the UNDP African Internet Initiative; internet user since 1988

Let's avoid paranoia! - Adrian Schofield, head of research for ForgeAhead (focused on ICT research and consulting in Africa), South Africa; a leader in the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA); internet user since 1994

Where to spend the available funds? Available to whom? I am in charge of setting my priorities, and you yours, so you must be asking about, what? The United Nations or something hellish like that? - Bob Metcalfe, Ethernet inventor, founder of 3Com Corporation, former CEO of InfoWorld, now a venture capitalist and partner in Polaris Venture Partners; internet user since 1970

I think the flow of information is more critical than the flow of money. There are alternatives for the flow of money. People will not use it if they do not feel secure, so access and security are the primary goals. - Amos Davidowitz, director of education, training and special programs for Institute of World Affairs, Association for Progressive Education; internet user since 1994

The only listed goal worth significant funding is to defend and promote human rights and activities. Passing along a technological knowledge to those not currently online was a crucial activity over the last decade but currently it is a mostly done job - in most countries there is enough local expertise or ability to gain one on demand. International security forces should be legally banned instead of funded. International microcredit system is impossible without general overhaul of antiquated US banking system. It needs a business and political solution. - Wladyslaw Majewski, OSI CompuTrain SA, ISOC Polska; internet user since 1989

There are gigantic universes of human interactions that don't involve payment. MOST interactions don't involve payment. Why is payment on this list? Why do we need Internet cops? How about Internet architecture that helps users protect themselves instead? - Cory Doctorow, self-employed journalist, blogger, co-editor of Boing Boing; born in Canada and now lives in London; EFF Fellow; internet user since 1987

The social institutions of exchange, and basic law (which requires some enforcement ability) are the most important for real development. This will allow new on-line institutions to emerge. - Bruce Edmonds, Centre for Policy Modelling, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK; internet user since 1992

We need stronger safeguards for privacy and human rights before enabling greater security authority. - Marc Rotenberg, executive director Electronic Privacy Information Center; internet user since 1978

Existing security organisations have the means they need to get their jobs done (though they may lack the knowledge and cooperation), creating a new one would just be a PR stint for a government surfing on fear. If there is no environment for open standards and multiple platforms, none of the two remaining points will be feasible, so I would place it at the top of the priority list because it is a prerequisite. If instead of microcredit you had made this pervasive "micropayment" I would have elected this as the second top priority since coupled with broader technical knowledge it would in fact make international decentralised microcredit real. Restricted as it is however, I think it is more important that as many people as possible know how to muster the power of the internet to their own uses. - Robin Berjon, W3C and Expway; internet user since 1996

Providing the facilities to access and then to participate in the Internet-based economy are by far more important than policing and regulating our monoculture. The Internet is based on a collaborative and generosity-based culture. These by their very nature are self policing and diverse. - Michael Gorrell, senior VP and CIO for EBSCO; internet user since 1994

1) The legal environment just might kill technological development. It's a palpable threat. 2) Diversity is helpful. 3) I have my doubts microcredit is solvable, but it's potentially useful. 4) Although scary, criminal and terrorist acts are relatively rare in the grand scheme of things. - Seth Finkelstein, anti-censorship activist and programmer, author of the Infothought blog and an EFF Pioneer Award winner

Personally, I don't have a lot of faith in international security watchdog organizations because they tend to get politicized. I also think the microcredit issue is open to widespread fraud and will be a non-starter although it sounds like a wonderful idea. The legal and operating environment notion is also great, but national interests and protectionism typically favor big players (again, it's about the humans, not the network). So I'm left with capacity building as my first choice. The genie, technology, is out of the bottle and we should simply accept the fact that unless the network is open to all, then it will be restricted for some and so potentially censored. - William Kearns, assistant professor at the University of South Florida; internet user since 1992

No one is in charge. A better question would be to ask what directions will get self-selected. - Willis Marti, associate director for networking, Texas A&M University; internet user since 1983

It is all too easy to obscure the idea that unless a network is complete, it is not a network at all. Much the way railroads, then highways pulled nations together and made them accessible across borders. For the internet to be the tool that it is evolving into, there does need to be a method for keeping it from becoming a tool for criminals and terrorists. It needs to be a "safe" place for people to communicate, so just as there is a need for police in cities and militias and armies in countries, there needs to be a way of deterring misuse. For the internet to be a completely viable tool in the greatest of expectations that it can be, there needs to be interoperability between multiple platforms and the infrastructure to make them work together. Lastly, with the ability to do away with borders, there is great logic in allowing an international microcredit system that allows a standardized method for commerce. - Tom Snook, CTO, New World Symphony, internet user since 1967

Building an open, inclusive, and inter-operable infrastructure is the most important because all of issues will depend upon the infrastructure. - Robin Gross, executive director, IP Justice, civil liberties organization that promotes balanced intellectual property law and defends consumer rights to use digital media worldwide; internet user since 1988

I do not believe that the level of harmony described can be achieved, despite investments in money and technology. World hunger will not be solved by 2020, so providing everyone with access to the Internet when some of the groups cannot afford the basics of life, seems somewhat far-fetched. I do believe that (potentially) 85% of the world's countries will be able to share in this revolution. - Mike McCarty, chief network officer, Johns Hopkins; internet user since 1992

We enhance the positive potential of global communication commerce only by bringing as many into the network as possible. To continue to expand the current digital divide will bring on negatives of jealousy, income disparity, have/have not battles, etc. This is a case when the economic common good must be nourished while minimizing the potential greed of individualized privatization. By this I do not mean government run--but a structured system of individual incentives for excellence that lead to positive collective improvement. – Ed Lyell, pioneer in issues regarding internet and education, professor at Adams State College; internet user since 1965

1 and 2 will bring commerce. Commerce will create some equalization of wealth in places where it does not now exist. That will prompt 3. Governments will take care of 4 out of paranoia. - Joe Bishop, VP business development, Marratech AB; internet user since 1994

Without software diversity we're at the mercy of the monopoly software vendors, both directly and even more indirectly through ease of exploit of such software and especially ease of spread of such exploits, not to mention through the warping of political and social systems that happens as monopolists fight to maintain control. Getting more people online is almost equally important. As everyone comes to use an open Internet, doing without it will become increasingly unacceptable. Micropayments are a fine idea, but we probably don't need something completely new; tuning the existing credit card system may work. Finally, security is good, but beware of too much power in any security organization. Distributed security is what we need. And the most effective first step is to deal with the software monopoly problem. - John S. Quarterman, president InternetPerils Inc.; publisher of the first "maps" of the internet; internet user since 1974

Various current legal environments are threatening to tear apart the fabric of the network (i.e. US intellectual property law, communications regulation, etc.) This trend must be reversed. Without a fundamental right to choose platform, service and application, there is very little merit left in the network. The edge must be left to its own devices, despite the economic pursuits of big business. - Ross Rader, director of research and innovation, Tucows Inc; internet user since 1991

You have to have the technology in place, up and working, in order for the population (whatever segments) can begin to use it. The physical network must be created first; then, investment (public or private) made to get content to ride on the network (do not forget Thoreau's quip when told in the 1870's that the first long-distance lines had been constructed and that now the people of Vermont could talk with the people of Georgia: "Well, what if the people of Vermont have nothing to say to the people of Georgia?"). Incentivate communication. Leave policing to the last stage. You might not even need it. - Fredric M. Litto, professor, University of Sao Paulo; president, ABED-Brazilian Association for Distance Education; internet user since 1993

While these SOUND important, I don't think any of these are really issues to be concerned with. We do need increased capacity, but not with an emphasis on new areas: Many cultures are not economically prepared to "waste time" on computers, since they can't eat computers. Software monopolies are being weakened by the inherent nature of the Internet, while open standards are being strengthened: If Bill Gates has hopes of monopolizing services or software, he should take a closer look at reality. Security is best implemented piece-meal, using creative ICE rather than OTC remedies whose weaknesses can be easily exploited. Forcing economic advances? Dream on! :) Funny you should pick Nigeria as an example. What we need most is protection from the government, which has shown itself to lack the intelligence to understand technology and the wisdom to refrain from hindering open communication. In an effort to control sex, for example, enforcement officials are distracted from terrorism and embezzlement. Diversity will grow the Internet more than any monoculture, especially diversity using open standards so that it is accessible to all. - Michael Steele; internet user since 1978

I believe we are giving control of our lives via the computer to corporate entities. And while I believe in a capitalistic society I really hate being forced to "compute" based on a corporate policy. - Sharon Lane, president, WebPageDesign; internet user since 1990

While I think security is one of the top priorities, I could not rate the "security watchdog organization" highly because I am afraid it would be ineffective and perhaps even oppressive. Good Internet security comes from hygiene at the individual level, along with voluntary cooperation among individuals and organizations. - Andy Oram, writer and editor for O'Reilly Media; internet user since 1983

The only one of these 4 choices I would like to see implemented is the legal and operating environment. The others should happen naturally based on usage patterns and market forces. - Peter Roll, retired chief system administrator; internet user since 1981

The more the "have-nots" can catch up to the "haves," the more likely we will reduce the potential for conflict and misunderstanding. At the same time, we must have an environment that makes it easy to use the net and not be burden by paralyzing controls and, effectively, a police state watch-dog organization. The Internet has succeeded, wildly, by not having controls placed on it. The end-to-end philosophy permits efficiency; the end points can be employed, nicely, to allow sufficient controls without impacting the flexibility and efficiency of the Internet (or whatever the worldwide net may be dubbed in 2020). - Don Heath, board member, iPool, Brilliant Cities Inc., Diversified Software, Alcatel, Foretec; internet user since 1988

Non-Internet related problems are a much higher priority than any of these, though I realize money will flow to these technological/policy challenges without taking care of more basic problems. This comes from the eight months I spent offline talking to people not using the Internet. It's just not a high priority - except those of us/you in the ICT world. - Steve Cisler, former senior library scientist for Apple, founder of the Association for Community Networking, now working on public-access projects in Guatemala, Ecuador and Uganda; internet user since 1989

Don't really believe in universal technical standards - at least not formally set from the top down. The lesson of the Internet is that they just don't work very well as the process is hijacked by big companies. A specialist tech security watchdog sounds like a really bad idea: use a computer, go to jail. - John Browning, co-founder of First Tuesday, a global network dedicated to entrepreneurs; former writer for The Economist and other top publications; internet user since 1989

Microcredit will just make it easier to charge per bit. I'd hate to lose the froth of sharing. - David Weinberger, teacher, writer, speaker, consultant and commentator on internet and technology; Harvard Berkman Center; internet user since 1986

My priorities have been defined accordingly to my belief that less control will lead to better results in the long run. In the short run, there will be problems - because the new players have to learn how to play and control their eagerness and because the old players have to come to terms with the new ways things will be done. The idea of the microcredit system appeals, but it has not been fully explained (the example given is clearly simplistic, the concept could be taken much further). It also seems too unlikely. - Suely Fragoso, professor, Unisinos, Brazil; internet user since 1994

The internet as a whole is already diverse (within the limits of standards), and good security is available to the knowledgeable. In terms of spending, these aims can best be furthered through widespread education. Extending the network is a good social policy; and the microcredit system sounds interesting, although I don't believe it will work for reasons that are beyond internet technology. - Florian Schlichting, Ph.D. candidate, University College, London

Giving people the ability to develop their own strategies and appropriate technologies as they see fit will always be a more powerful method of ensuring equitable uptake than by top-down measures or by allowing current power groups (e.g. corporate interests) to define the future environment. - Mark Gaved, The Open University, United Kingdom; internet user since 1987

We still need to build awareness and demonstrate value but also enable those who cannot access ICTs to gain access through empowerment. I think the legal environment is a second priority because getting this wrong could put us back years and it's becoming more and more important. Yes, an international system for small transactions is useful but it will likely emerge anyway and hopefully creating the legal system will include some effective controls, which along with human intervention and a powerful watchdog community will make "arming" a last resort. - Andy Williamson, managing director for Wairua Consulting Limited, New Zealand; a member of the NZ government's Digital Strategy Advisory Group; internet user since 1990

Qui custodiet ipsos custodes? An effective international security watchdog organization will limit the possibilities for the other three. - Alec MacLeod, associate professor, California Institute of Integral Studies; internet user since 1989

I believe the most important thing is for the internet to remain an open, flat medium for high accessibility for everyone worldwide. Government involvement for security and surveillance reasons should be kept to a minimum. - B. van den Berg, faculty of philosophy at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; internet user since 1993

Any effort to improve the world by means of development of information and communication technologies should be based on empowerment of the individual as user and various groups of users, and not be conducive to a business monoculture. In other words, the current trends of corporate domination in the area should be reversed. Public interest should be the top priority. – Mirko Petric, University of Zadar, Croatia; internet user since 1996

All of these are commendable objectives however I feel that a micropayment system would solve many of our problems with current copyright regime. Couple a micropayment system with addressing current copyright and patent law tyrannies and the world would be a better place for all manner of innovations. - Sam Punnett, president, FAD research (consultant on strategy, marketing, and product-development issues related to e-business); internet user since 1988

1) Break the legal chains that governments and corporations use to control access and information flow. 2) Teach people to fish and they will teach you how to catch more fish. 3) With governments and corps out of the way and lots of people building new tech, several forms of secure micropayment (credit assumes banks which assumes we haven't actually succeeded at breaking the legal chains). 4) A centralized "enforcement unit" is utter bullshit. A watchdog group should do just that - use their resources to inform and spread the warnings so that people can be prepared. Arming a central organization against internet criminals is like trying to destroy bad weather. - Scott Moore, online community manager, Helen and Charles Schwab Foundation; internet user since 1991

None of the above. The internet should be free of any government's control. Market forces will level the playing field. - W. Reid Cornwell, director of The Center for Internet Research; internet user since 1974

I think terrorism is the biggest threat to all of us in all parts of the globe at the moment and the anonymity of the internet has aided acts of terrorism in ways not envisaged in the early days of the internet. The internet has to be available to all if it is to be used for the economic and social benefits of all nations and Third World countries need the tools to manage their own development at the grassroots level rather than relying on aid form outside. - Barbara Craig, Victoria University; internet user since 1993

Billions of dollars are already being used to build an effective international security watchdog organization. It goes under names such as NSA, CIA and the Department of Homeland Security. Some of it is legal, some illegal. If there is a need to fulfill in this area, it is to put in place an international cyberpolice controlled by the UN. That possibility is moot, of course. - Charlie Breindahl, external lecturer, University of Copenhagen, IT University of Copenhagen; internet user since 1996

I don't think I have to put surveillance high on this list, as there are quite enough people already working hard to create systems for internet control, censorship and surveillance. Look to China. Or to the US. - Torill Mortensen, associate professor, Volda University College, Norway; internet user since 1991

I am taking a "Field of Dreams" approach. Build the infrastructure and the other systems will follow. - Jim Jansen, assistant professor, Penn State University; internet user since 1993

A word of caution here. The underlying conceit in this question is that the internet in and of itself has an inordinate amount of power to improve the world. While ensuring access certainly impacts the internet's potential as a change agent, it is important to remember that simple access is not enough. Giving a man (or woman) a laptop and a cheap connection is not sufficient to change his/her plight. The internet is a tool with some potential, but it is probably not within the top 100 factors that can drive significant change in the world. - Nan Dawkins, co-founder of RedBoots Consulting; internet user since 1997

I assume that the development of the infrastructure puts equal emphasis on network and human resources. And that fair distribution of costs and revenues is also built in the scheme. Yet the goal should also be to make Internet relevant to the real needs of all groups of people. - Michel Menou, professor and information-science researcher; born in France, he has worked in nearly 80 nations; internet user since 1992

These priorities (indeed most of the predictions in this survey) reflect a strong techno-determinist bias. - Sherida Ryan, internet analyst, Openflows Networks Ltd. (provider of news, analysis, network facilities and tools for Open Source); internet user since 1995

The same hardware that can liberate can also enslave - a bit overstated, but the legal and social policies that shape possible uses of technology are crucial to long-term potential. A monoculture is a concern but more pressing is the fundamental design characteristics and policy implications of those designs that constrain or enable uses, and whether they empower the powerful at the cost of the less powerful or empower everyperson to take fullest advantage of enlightenment and social interaction that the internet provides. - Patrick B. O'Sullivan, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, Illinois State University; internet user since 1987

By starting with a user-need basis rather than an engineer-design basis, international diffusion and acceptance has a higher potential for success. Building capacity to meet those needs and simultaneously protecting the users/infrastructure, including an electronic monetary system should fall into a more natural progression. - Paul Chenoweth, web developer, Belmont University; internet user since 1994

The main impediment to the spread of technology that really serves people is the regime of control that makes supports systems based on influence and capital rather than utility. It is the choice between having a system that benefits incumbents or one that works the best. It is the classic engineers v. accountant battle. Any international ICT police force would not (based on my read of history) be used to protect people or infrastructure in general, but protect those in power from those who are not. - Ted M. Coopman, activist, social science researcher, instructor at the University of Washington, Seattle, member of AoIR board of directors

I think improving access and understanding will help create defenses against online evil based on understanding rather than the propaganda of an elite; I'm not seeing the finance system as a major impediment to progress right now. - Cleo Parker, senior manager, BBDO (international agency for networked, multi-channel communications solutions); internet user since 1993

International security watchdog was my lowest priority because attempts so far to implement something like this has lacked authenticity and authority. - Kevin Schlag, director of web development and IT for Western Governor's University, BYU-Hawaii; internet user since 1993

The less structured the 'net, the more neat stuff will happen. The more we constrain it, the less it will prove a tool that benefits mankind. – Bud Levin, program head/psychology and commander/policy and planning, Blue Ridge Community College; Waynesboro (VA) Police Department; internet user since 1988

Building capacity is certainly the most critical. The legal environment today is excellent, and bodies such as ISOC, ICANN, and IETF, along with world governments, should continue to nurture and protect the open nature of the internet. A secure micropayment system would be nice but is a difficult problem to solve. - Simon Woodside, CEO, Semacode Corporation, based in Ontario, Canada; internet user since 1992

The growth and diversity of services and collaborative projects in the past decade leads me to believe that if we accomplish #1 & #2 – i.e. if we provide capacity AND capability - that those on the network will create everything else. - Brent Crossland, policy analyst; internet user since 1992

The highest priority is to embed the openness with which the internet began, the culture of creativity and connection and sharing and transparency. Standards will help that harmonisation. Political and legal support will follow and should not lead and not all partners are equal in multi-stakeholder partnerships, and governments and commerce should have less valence than civil society and academia. - Sylvia Caras, disability rights advocate for People Who; internet user since 1993

Security has to come first. As long as we have entities that can "poke out individual CPU's eyes" with a Trojan, spyware or malware, we will not be able to gain any true integrity of the internet. The 2nd priority would be preventing nations from censoring or subverting the internet... - Terry Ulaszewski, publisher, Long Beach Live Community News; internet user since 1989

The likely future of the internet is presaged by your last two options -as a means of the spread of corporate capital. - Toby Miller, professor, University of California-Riverside; internet user since 1990

Usability is key to advancing technology. If watchdog organizations and legislation hinder activities that Internet users want to take part in, the online world will be held back. - Enid Burns, editor at ClickZ.com; internet user since 1994

In public libraries we see people who have neither the knowledge nor the economic power to effectively use technology. Creating a more level playing field and providing a legal structure to limit predators would be my highest priorities. Systems to discourage identity theft and promote the ability to invest globally also seem important. I see no one I trust to create an international security watchdog without infringing on rights I think unwise to give up. - Carolyn Wiker, librarian, Pottstown Public Library; internet user since 1992

I'm not sure I agree with any of these as they are currently phrased. 1) Making the Internet friendlier to native languages, so that people can communicate more easily cross-culturally. 2) Being able to trust that who you are communicating with is who they say they are - as opposed to a security watchdog. 3) Reducing "taxes" and "tolls." Cost of bandwidth, ISP subscriptions, PCs, and an "affordable" micropayment system are key. 4) Doing what we can to head off the balkanization of the Internet into incompatible systems. These are more where I see priorities lying personally. Some are a re-phrasing of the above. - Kerry Kelley, VP product marketing, SnapNames.com; internet user since 1986

Because of economies of scale, it is most important to get more and more people online. They must be able to communicate in an appropriate legal environment, in a secure manner. Monetary microcredit system - it will come, in due time. - Jeffrey Branzburg, educational consultant; internet user since 1997

I would prioritize building capacity for exchange of knowledge of all kinds, including access to online education, professional development and lifelong learning. - Janet Salmons, president, Vision2Lead Inc. (consultants on organizational leadership and development and virtual learning); internet user since 1985

I believe in "following the money" is more important for development and that universal infrastructure is least important for development. The universal standards are likely to be spelled out in some highly cosmopolitan and elite technology center distant from local realities of the developing countries. The security activities rank right below the money activities because of the risk of misappropriating the technology benefits. The human infrastructure ranks third because it depends on strategic use of information, which remains a latent ability in many parts of the world. - Ellen K. Sullivan, former diplomat, policy fellow, George Mason University School of Public Policy; internet user since 1988

1. This largely exists today, although monopolies such as Microsoft need to be kept in check. International standards organizations need more resources so they can move faster. - Brian T. Nakamoto, Everyone.net (a leading provider of outsourced email solutions for individuals and companies around the world); internet user since 1990

Number 4 is already on the radar with several sites up and functioning for just that purpose. Number 2 makes certain that everyone has the ability to get information and therefore be involved in decision-making on every level. Number 1. Security is a huge issue and must be dealt with. - Judy Laing, Southern California Public Radio; internet user since 1995

I strongly feel that the key of any successful venture is systems. Once systems are in place, we can invite people from the other side over. Else, it may be unimaginably uncontrollable. - Alik Khanna, Smart Analyst Inc. (business employing financial analysts in India); internet user since 1996

It is misleading to assume that just because people have Net access they will be able to have the knowledge to use it for productive or good means - it may just lead to more commercialization and increases in media power. However, it is important that at least people have access - what they do with it can be dealt with later. - Shawn McIntosh, lecturer in strategic communications, Columbia University; internet user since 1992

Crime and money are always bedfellows. Waiting before tackling Internet crime head-on using a global taskforce would allow a prohibition-era-like foothold situation to occur. - J. Fox, a respondent who chose not to share his/her specific identity

I don't believe technology should be expanded into cultures that are not prepared to adopt it. Security is my greatest concern and should be a major consideration. I don't think it is possible to build a "secure international monetary microcredit system." - Paul Craven, director of enterprise communications, U.S. Department of Labor; internet user since 1993

Creating a legal framework for the internet should focus on intellectual property alone. I do not believe that the goals of 'using the internet the way they want' means that a political solution should be sought for infrastructure or technology platforms. Political solutions are typically about discouraging human activities. Innovation is about encouraging human activities, many of which will be failures. If a software monoculture results, it will be because it is the solution that solves the greatest number of problems for the greatest number of people...it will also be temporary until the problems it creates are solved by the next wave of innovation. - Jeff Hammond, VP, Rhea and Kaiser; internet user since 1992

The discouragement of monopoly (as opposed to the enabling of it, as US policy has for the past 25 years) should always be seen as the fundamental role of legal and political structures in a capitalist society, since only competition encourages innovation - "Wealth of Nations" still has some applicability to our current age. - Joseph Redington, associate academic dean, Manhattanville College; internet user since 1993

I think we have to be careful that some societies don't go too far beyond others. I think if other societies want to be online, they should have that opportunity. It should be a social and intellectual barrier, not an economic one. - Lori Keith, internet marketing consultant for Mannington Mills

Building the infrastructures is the most efficient investment to get "offline" people on. Every thing else will be easier and no country will be able to stop people, once infrastructures are available. - Louis Nauges, president, Microcost (an IT services and hardware company based in France); internet user since 1990

If the technology spreads, the regulatory framework will develop. – Henry Potts, professor, University College, London; internet user since 1990

Priorities: Freedom from corporate domination, (appropriate) safety measures, democratization, activism. - Denzil Meyers, founder and president, Widgetwonder (internal branding consultants and facilitators of corporate storytelling), Applied Improvisation Network; internet user since 1993

My top priority would be to build a 100-mg-per-second broadband pipe to every home. - Rob Atkinson, director, Technology and New Economy Project, Progressive Policy Institute (a think tank); previously project director at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment; internet user since 1993

Basic safeguards need to be set up in a global legal framework that builds on current growth and increasingly takes in new communities. Keeping peace in these now global communities would be paramount and on the basis of this safe and secure framework a microcredit system that helps communities would emerge. - Syamant Sandhir, leader in experience design and implementation, Futurescape; internet user since 1995

Security is largely an illusion anyway. The first steps must be about getting the economics and laws right so that content creators can be paid for their contributions. - Daniel Conover, new-media developer, Evening Post Publishing; internet user since 1994

Imagine international voting online in realtime. For all of it to work, there must be a legal-cultural framework for it to rest on. Second, the infrastructure. 3 and 4 should be done together - Gordon MacDiarmid, Lobo Internet Services; internet user since 1988

First capacity and comfort must be established, then ease of use and freedom within reasonable guidelines/rules of the road. Third, a monetary system for business and personal commerce will make international transactions possible, and next a security system to protect users. - Robert Kurdziel, CEO, Beam Wireless; internet user since 1993

We need a watchdog organization to oversee criminal and terrorist acts carried out through the use of ICTs; and we really need a series of well-supported, lower-level watchdog organizations to ensure that ICTs are not utilized by those in power to serve the interests of profit at the expense of human rights. We need ICT specialists to augment the work of important organizations already in existence that are fulfilling this watchdog role. My contention is that the need for the watchdogs will only increase as time goes on. - Lynn Schofield Clark, director of Teens and the New Media @ Home Project, University of Colorado; internet user since 1991

First give access and teach the potential. Next, create a level economic playing field. Then, create various safeguards, both legal and cultural, then use the net to create a safe and sane world. - Walter J. Broadbent, VP, The Broadbent Group; internet user since 1994

We need to avoid letting the digital divide become an impassable gulf. - James Schultz, principal, Pretty Good Consulting; Institute for Work and the Economy (a consortium studying challenges posed by new immigrants in the labor market); former executive at Walgreen's; internet user since 1995

"Communities" on Ebay/PayPal/Skype, Google or Western Union could facilitate microcredit well before 2020. - Dan McCarthy, managing director, Neuberger Berman Inc. (equity funds); internet user since 1994

I'll answer these in low- to high-priority order. Lowest: Building the capacity of the network and passing along technological knowledge to those not currently online. (This question was asked by someone who's never used technical support.) Next-lowest: Developing and "arming" an effective international security watchdog organization. To watchdog for what? Who decides what's right and what's wrong in this organization? Who's a fundamentalist - a Muslim or a Mormon? Why fear (laud) the fundamentalist? The governments of more developed nations can behave in more magnanimous ways toward developing nations, by not only showing up in force when there's a disaster, but by showing up with the little things like drugs and inoculations, birth control, education for women and so forth. These would be more worthwhile national and international pursuits than funding a "security watchdog organization." Second-highest: Creating a legal and operating environment that allows people to use the internet the way they want, using the software they want. This will happen over time as usefulness evolves. Hardware and software monopolies are pass̩. The key point here, however, is the business case necessary to enable such a solution. The key architecture of the Internet's (as we know it) predecessor was survivability. The communications system had to survive war and the ravages of war. But consider this: there are still, more than 100 years after its invention, cultures where people do not know how to drive a car. But they do benefit from the "public cars" made available to them. Perhaps the Internet will spawn similar public benefits over time. Highest: Establishing an easy-to-use, secure international monetary microcredit system. Microcredit programmes have shown themselves to be some of the most useful and culture-enabling programmes yet developed. It's brilliant that people should be able to find them independent of the intermediaries currently involved in brokering the programmes. But you''ll still need somebody motivated and involved to post and publish all the details necessary for the receiving beneficiary. And this again is a business case for a remaining intermediary. РElle Tracy, president and e-strategies consultant, The Results Group; internet user since 1993


 

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