Imagining the Internet Project

  Responses to this 2020 scenario were assembled from Internet stakeholders in the2008 Pew Internet & American Life/Elon University Predictions Survey. Participants were encouraged to provide a written elaboration to explain their answers; they did not always do so, but those who did provided richly detailed, fascinating predictive material. Some respondents chose to identify themselves; many did not. We share some—not all—of the responses here. If you would like to participate in the next survey, mail andersj [at] elon dotedu; include information on your expertise.  



Scenario Four:
The Evolution of Privacy,
Identity, and Forgiveness


Prediction: Transparency heightens individual integrity and forgiveness. In 2020, people are even more open to sharing personal information, opinions, and emotions than they are now. The public’s notion of privacy has changed. People are generally comfortable exchanging the benefits of anonymity for the benefits they perceive in the data being shared by other people and organizations. As people’s lives have become more transparent, they have become more responsible for their own actions and more forgiving of the sometimes-unethical pasts of others. Being “outed” for some past indiscretion in a YouTube video or other pervasive-media form no longer does as much damage as it did back in the first decade of the 21st Century. Carefully investigated reputation corrections and clarifications are a popular daily feature of major media outlets’ online sites
.

Compiled reactions from the 1,196 respondents:
44% Mostly agreed
45% Mostly disagreed
10% Did not respond

Expert respondents' reactions (N=578):
45% Mostly agreed
44% Mostly disagreed
11% Did not respond

Respondents to this scenario were presented with a brief set of information outlining the status quo of the issue that prefaced this scenario as of 2007. It read:

People openly share more intimate details of their lives online every day, and they are flocking to social networks and uploading and/or viewing homemade videos by the millions. Ubiquitous computing is diffusing into everyday life. Much of what goes on in daily life is more visible – more transparent – and personal data of every variety is being put on display, tracked, tagged, and added to databases. The number of mobile camera phones in use will top 1 billion in 2007; miniaturized surveillance cameras are simultaneously becoming extremely inexpensive, sophisticated, and pervasive; clothing is being designed with technology woven into the fabric; and it is expected that most surfaces can and will be used as two-way interfaces in the future.

Overview of Respondents' Reactions
The comments supplied by respondents, who split their vote evenly, were widely varied, but included: Transparency is an unstoppable force that has positives and negatives. It might somehow influence people to live lives in which integrity and forgiveness are more likely / it won’t have any positive influence, in fact it makes everyone vulnerable, and bad things will happen because of it. The concept of “privacy” is changing, it is becoming scarce, and it will be both protected and threatened by emerging innovations. Tracking and databasing will be ubiquitous. Reputation maintenance and repair will be required. Some people will have multiple digital identities; some people will withdraw.

Below are select responses from survey participants who preferred to remain anonymous. This is not the full extent of responses. To see more, read the report PDF, and to read reactions from participants who took credit for their answers, please click here.

I think that while people will become more open to sharing information, there will still be an apprehension as to what they share. The Internet at present allows us to create a personae that the world can see; this is not often how we are in real life, and I don't think there will be a drastic change.

I truly hope so. The Internet could well become the next greatest world power as political movements go global online.

The fear of forcefully putting the dark side of people into the light is not the way to build personal integrity. There will be a point of diminished returns in terms of benefits from public exposure. There will be backlash and people will more and more treasure the little privacy they have.

It will have to be otherwise; future generations will not get jobs.

People will become more careful about how they craft their online reputations. Just as in the real world, people will judge you on your words and actions. The Internet is your permanent record.

People will manage their 'online' image as an integrated part of their overall 'offline' image. The distinctions between online/offline will blur. Peoples behavior will be like that of someone living in a small town—hidden indiscretions may still happen but people will continue to be conscious of their actions knowing the public nature of what they do. There will be more diversity in interests because people can find communities that mirror their values and interests and will not have to subscribe to "majority think." Most people will lead two lives—those "on the grid" and their private self "off the grid."

Some of us are socialites and some are not, some are gregarious and some are shy. Social-networking type info sharing is not a universal trend. Plus endless "sharing" actually gets quite boring. People are sophisticated interactors, the social-networking type aspect is merely a tool, one of many, and will not be the be-all and end-all.

My view is much more dystopian. Cheap video and audio monitoring is a means of control by powerful organizations like governments and large corporations…Hopefully technological advances will allow some preservation of personal privacy.

Much like any other time, society will have its celebrities, who thrive on notoriety. Most people posting their party pictures on Facebook now will come to view them as bad tattoos and there will be similar technologies developed for erasing them. Most people will always want to control how much information they expose, when and to whom. Information about public figures, such as politicians will be even more judicious about the information posted.

Transparency would help in things like corporate governance and the legislative process, but the people involved in the deal-making may try to block transparency so as not to be held accountable for the compromises necessary.

The average person leads a very dull life. There should be a point of fatigue that prevents this from catching on.

While I do agree that people will more freely share personal information through social networking, I also believe that we will see heightened rates of identity theft and privacy breaches that may compromise an individual's professional reputation.

No, people will take less responsibility for their actions.

Keeping secrets will become very difficult in 2020.

People will take less responsibility for their actions.

Transparency is great, as long as it doesn't involve me—as in the old NIMBY [not in my back yard] paradigm. For example, current presidential contenders believe in full disclosure, but not of their own plans, positions, or histories.

The downside of transparency has become increasingly apparent and Internet users seem to be becoming more protective of privacy, not less so.

Life without privacy is hell. The best people (or "best" people, if you prefer) will be known for not being reachable on the Internet, for not having their personal information available.  This is true today and will be more true in the future. The best/"best" people will use alternative channels, like F2F and RW.

Moral standards and moral integrity have been diluted because of the status quo. Creator transparency leads to a saturation of otherwise unacceptable behavior, which in turn dulls our senses to unacceptable behavior.

People's attitude vis a vis threats or breach to their privacy will continue to be context- and person-dependent. The information overload in both exposure and/or rectification might lead to a reduction of the free disclosure of personal information.

Privacy will never go away.  2020 will see a system that protects privacy for those who want it.

I'd agree if the "transparency" involved those in power! It's not "transparency" but unilateral  stripping of abilities (note I didn't say "rights"). 

Transparency will reduce crime.

There will be more transparency, but I'm not convinced there will be more forgiveness.

Nothing will change human nature. We will always want to laugh at the follies and misfortunes of others (as long as they happen on an individual scale), and players in politics and business will always seek any edge to place a seed of doubt about the integrity and intelligence of their opponents.

Chaos will rule, but people will take mudslinging less seriously, as it will happen to all.

We can only hope. However privacy concerns need to be default strong to ensure that cases where there is abuse can be dealt with, and to ensure governments and corporations are able to be held responsible for security and integrity.

Anonymity will not be relinquished as suggested by this scenario. People like it too much. They like not being accountable.

Facebook and other social networks will change the relationships we have with our ever-widening circle of family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, etc.

There is a dichotomy in society, with much of the world’s population technologically poor—even with ubiquitous mobile phone connectivity in the first scenario. I think this scenario will more prevalent for the current and next generation of users in the Western. However the more radical world order will not stand for this type of exposure. Likewise older people will not take part in this type of exposure. The next few years will see how this phenomenon grows and is self-regulated. Already there is some misuse.

There will be an about-face now, as more and more people feel violated as the sharing increases.

Humans are paranoid animals.

Given the current power of cover-your-ass and the Patriot Act, I believe it will take more than 13 years for people to become that much less judgmental about many things; what this means is there is a risk of more people being vilified or even jailed even as they allow more information to be gathered about themselves. Perhaps by 2020 someone will write a "megatrends" blockbuster that gets people to start reexamining their assumptions.

People's lives will become more transparent. Of this, I am quite sure. All of the information aggregators connected to social networking software and databases like Google's empire, Facebook, etc., will lead to other computer users, but, more importantly, corporate knowledge of our time spent online and what we describe of our time spent offline. This will not, however, enable “more responsibility” for personal actions. More judgments will likely ensue, and changes in what is okay…Changing notions of what constitutes an indiscretion seem the more likely scenario for future shifts in "morality."

The more we share, the easier it is to share, the more human we all become.

There will be more and more indiscretions but it will be accompanied with an increase of lawsuits for defamation, etc.

This is the philosophy driving many of the moves to Standard Business Processes in Government—the more transparent, the more secure.

The boundaries are falling, but I do not believe that they are going to fall that far. Web content will be filtered more often, weeding out all the bad, to make room for the good.

We (our info) has become a commodity. Sure, everything is about commoditization, accounting and cash. It seems IMPOSSIBLE to imagine things won't be embarrassing, which would imply no morals but likely might be a social blindness to some kinds of past events for some people, while others will be held more accountable for those same activities/videos/records from the past.

There will be a learning curve for people sharing their information, but eventually people will figure it out.

There will not be a revolution in this respect over the next 12 years, but this will be an ongoing trend, particularly at generational timescales.

In general terms, I am more persuaded by Brin's transparent-society analysis than any other competing analyses.

There will be both a great push of some people aiming for media attention giving away all privacy in hope of fame and a great withdrawal of many online users into their private online space they share with a few friends.

People will have many different on-line "personalities" and so will be less concerned about the transparency.

People will learn to better encrypt or learn not to upload as much personal information to the Internet.

Great privacy problems are just beginning and might not have been solved by 2020.

Technology does not change human nature. The close-minded and unforgiving have been forced back from particular positions over the last several centuries, but have always latched on to something else that threatens the end of civilization as we know it, and continued to oppose it in the same old ways. Once it was Copernican astronomy; then civil liberties and the end of slavery; then evolutionary biology; then prejudice against the poor and the foreigner in general. Now we have gay rights and stem cell research, and a background of evolution-denial. What it will be next, I cannot say, but that there will be a next I regard as certain.

People will never become more forgiving. The damages inflicted by online embarrassment may become more short-lived, but there will still be damage.

The policy-aware-Web should be ready by 2020 to solve this issue!

Information is no longer secure. There have been so many public details lost in the UK over the past few months. Are people worried about this? Personally, I keep my personal Web interactions to a minimum, as I don't want my personal details misappropriated. There's a big problem with identity theft and cyber identity theft could be a major issue over the next few years.

People are mainly unaware of how much of their privacy they have lost, once it becomes clear I believe there will be a backlash. Improved privacy software will fill the current market void eventually.

This is close to 50-50. I doubt that anything will ever make people more responsible for their own actions. I expect people to become simply more jaded so as to not care what is "outed." I also expect that most people are modest only because it is fashionable and fashion is changing, people are becoming too free with their private information.

There is a generation gap that needs to be acknowledged. The younger generation will continue to make their lives transparent, but as they mature, there is a greater chance that the transparency will reduce. It only takes one event to change the tide on transparency.

Yes, people are disclosing more and more. I'd like to believe in the integrity-and-forgiveness scenario, but the US political climate for the last eight years or so has made me more of a cynic.

Technology has nothing to offer to morals.

The risk of a attitudinal pendulum swing exists that would mitigate this sense of openness.

I don't think we have yet seen the worst of the future repercussions of what is currently being shared on the social networking sites.

We will continue to be hard on ourselves and on public figures. I think people will slowly learn to share only what they want to share about themselves online.

I highly doubt that any piece of technology will change human nature. YouTube and Facebook allow people to create half-truths and fictitious versions of themselves (note the recent media coverage of the MySpace suicide).

There are huge differences in norms among on-line users. Those differences will persist. Social norms for privacy will, therefore, not move nearly as fast as the frontier for tolerating lack of privacy.

The older population—that has been most aware of privacy issues—will decline in comparison to the youngsters just beginning to use the Internet and social networking tools…The fact of youthful indiscretions uncovered from YouTube or other sources will have less of an impact on overall reputation of individuals.

Some people will generally become more comfortable exchanging the benefits of anonymity for perceived benefits. However, there will be another group, largely demographically defined by age, who continue to be distrustful and strongly resist the sharing of personal information. The popular daily feature piece is unlikely to be mainstream.

A generation ago middle class girls from "good families" appeared nude in "Woodstock" the movie (as well as in Woodstock the event). Now they do so in "girls gone wild" events. Privacy is changing independent of the number of transistors per cm squared. While the nature of privacy is changing and people's use of technology reflects that change. Technology isn't necessarily driving that change

Quite the reverse is happening—misinformation dominates.

There will be a backlash against all organizations that do not maintain an individual's personal information in a secure manner, and this has already begun.

This could go either way. The scenario provided is a positive spin on a future. The darker version is that people get slammed by the transparency, and go underground via closed networks and sites rater then public forums.

As identity theft and governmental abuse continues, people will start demanding their privacy back.

I don't know about the corrections, but we are already halfway there. A lot of people (a majority?) have given up on the idea of anonymity and privacy.

Sadly, people are people are people. The benefits of anonymity are benefits not only to users with integrity and open-mindedness but also to those with closed minds and bigoted views.

The public notion of privacy will remain roughly the same, though there will be more opportunities to disclose information in return for services. A high-profile case of mishandled personal data will cause a public backlash against the collection and archiving of such information. Users will become (or will be educated to be) more mindful of disclosure and will demand privacy controls in online applications. People will maintain several distinct personas online, i.e. professional plus several interest-based/cultural/religious identities, and insist on privacy controls to keep them separate to some degree. Greater tolerance and forgiveness is a function of increasing societal liberalism, and the "outing" sounds like celebrity gossip to me—the public appetite for that will likely remain constant.

Although the notion of privacy may change, it can never be eliminated. Rather, with more opportunity for public expression, a more pronounced dichotomy will develop between the public self and the private self, a kind of split personality, or even multiple personalities/profiles meant problematize the battle for personal information. An individual's MySpace profile is never an accurate representation of the self, but rather a representation of how a user wishes to be perceived.

While I would like to see the latter part of this paragraph become true, I think it would take longer than 13 years for them to change that much. It is also worth noting that what one might think is funny to put online when one is 17, one might not wish to have online when one is 37.

Until the general public understands the consequences of giving up personal privacy, they will continue to behave as sheep.

I do agree that people will exchange the benefits of privacy for those of sharing their data, but in no way do I think this will increase integrity and forgiveness. I just think that what is considered acceptable will change.

Technology may change but human nature will not evolve so quickly. Scarce resources and the normal fear/flight protection syndrome combined with the comfort of being with those whom we identify as like us will still prevail.

I think this would be true except that the terrible economy of 2008-2015 will create a culture of competition, greed and hoarding in America. People need to “have enough” and be actualized in their jobs in order to share and collaborate.

Most people are currently clueless about privacy ramifications of online conduct.  The scenario described is a post-911 surveillance wet dream.

I want more privacy not less, and I definitely think less privacy would not mean less damage to people's reputations.

People don't change their judgmental attitudes anywhere near that fast. Much more likely: people gradually see friends & neighbors destroyed when past indiscretions become the Internet meme of the moment and slowly realize they have to be just as careful of online appearance as real life. (Besides “benefits” of sharing data? None of this is happening in any sort of transparent form. The benefits accrue mostly to the network owners.)

We're going to have a massive correction on this fetish of exposing ourselves on the Web, as kids grow up and have to explain why Mommy shaved her head or forgot to wear panties when she left the house.

While possible, I think our current fascination with being transparent will change in some way. And YouTube will be so far out of date it isn't even funny.

I think this is the direction we are heading, although I do also think this leads to a lot of non-documentation, where people will simply not journal or record certain activities because of the repercussions.

People will always be people. I don't see technology fundamentally making people more forgiving. They are and will continue to be not so smart about protecting their personal information.

A frightening scenario.

People will still be afraid to give out information that could ruin their credit/lives. They might more freely give information to secure sites however.

I agree with the first part, the public's notion of privacy will change, but society will not be all that forgiving and people won't be as careful managing their online identities as this scenario suggests.

More data will be shared, and YouTube videos outing people will no longer be a major drama, but I don't think human nature or Western culture encourages personal responsibility or kindnesss of the kind described here.

The most recent Pew report said kids are savvy and lying about some aspects and keeping some private. Anonymity will persist. Careful investigation is and will remain a rarity.

Just look at how FaceBook, MySpace, Blogs, etc., are used now.

It's just more mature. More open means a more informed citizenry and better chances for social democracies.

In 10 years people will start being affected by consequences of the free for all information and understand the value of information. In the future people will shy away rather than be more transparent.

This is due to a lack of understanding of the radical transparency of the very near future. The fact that millions share personal information on social networks like Facebook indeed marks a significant change in how people deal with their personal information. I don't think that people will have a choice in the future regarding personal information—in order to receive a service, etc., one will have to opt in regarding personal data, without much of a choice. Sandra Braman is absolutely correct when she speaks and writes of the “Informational State,” the state will indeed make use of this data. This does not bode well for the future, as the public will become increasingly more transparent while government will become increasingly less so.

I'd love to think that we will be at one and the world will be dominated by peace and harmony, and/or the “outing” for past indiscretions will be forgiven, but this one goes more to the level of social change occurring and human nature which I think is good but that is a philosophical and moral position. So while on principle I agree with the scenario, it might be just wishful thinking.

As people feel they have a greater voice—and can tap into a larger knowledge and ethics base (from around the world) post-modernists will adapt to this new way of thinking. But a thread of hatemongers will continue to exist, gradually dwindling over time and subject to intense scrutiny by the masses of people focused on good.

I agree that there will be even less privacy. However, I disagree that this will lead to tolerance and acceptance.

Civilization has already become desensitized to sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll through primetime television. Morals and ethics are diminished; criminals have more rights than law-abiding citizens due to the greediness of the legal profession. Privacy is almost nonexistent now and government control is increasing in the perceived face of terrorist attacks and identity-theft incidences. People give up privacy in order to protect themselves financially.

Legal provisions and reputation systems will be used to guarantee more privacy, also on past publicised events.

While I agree that much more private information will be made available, most people will still try to protect their privacy. High-profile horror stories will unfortunately probably be necessary to remind people that they need to be careful.

I agree with it all to a certain extent. First there will always be people who want to be anonymous. While one half of the population will continue to accept these statements; the other half of the population will reject it and attempt their best to stay anonymous. I also don't think the major media outlets will consistently dig up dirt on people because once its accepted you changed sides, people will not worry about what you believed 20 years ago, but what you believe right now and whether they believe you believe that right now.

I doubt this will contribute to a civil society

Equating transparency with honesty and integrity? I believe people will be more guarded about what they value most if they feel they cannot be secure in their anonymity. The children and teens will become more cautions as they grow up and move away from use of sites that cater to their culture.

While people share more things on the Internet, they are also harsher and more closed-minded on the Internet than they are face-to-face. Feeling anonymous on the Internet gives people the ability or confidence to spew things they would never actually say in “polite society.” In on-line communities people are faster to take offense, misunderstand intent or context, and otherwise cause arguments and anger. Forgiveness might actually decrease, as the original offense is always out there and can always be resurrected.

It's really not that far off of what is happening now.

Oddly enough, it isn't that I think people are becoming forgiving, I think they are becoming numb. What was once appalling is now just surprising. In 2020, I believe that people will actually be MORE protective than they are now. What will likely drive this is some action of egregious misuse of personal information e.g., terrorism.

People will become more (not less) protective of their privacy.

Privacy is and will be under attack. Social networking is voluntary however other forms of information gathering and aggregation are invasive and will only escalate in the future

As the consequences of sharing personal information become clearer, people will share less. Also, with the increased amount of information, there will be decreased opportunity for fact checking deliberate lies and distortions inserted into pervasive media.

This will remain a generational issue and so future generations will be comfortable, but I don't think Boomers and Generation X will be as comfortable.

I wish this scenario were true, but unfortunately most people are without conscience and will get away with whatever they can by withholding information that could possibly deprive them of future benefit.

I don't see technology making the difference in individual integrity and a rise in forgiveness. Given the fact that various religions have preached this message for generations without significant success, it is difficult to believe that technology will be successful. Privacy and the public's attitudes toward it may change, but integrity and forgiveness are not likely to change as a result of that.

The mainstream of open information will create even more determined strongholds of privacy as backlash.

Transparency will degrade individual integrity. There will always be opportunists who will see this openness as a means to personal gain. There still must be a dividing line between private and public. I do not see people becoming more responsible for their own actions. If anything, the opposite may be true, looking always to shift blame. This transparency could facilitate this more easily.

A line will be drawn by each individual to delineate what's private and what's not—I just don't know how small the resulting circle of privacy will be. It will be much smaller than it is today, and way much smaller than what I'm comfortable with.

Already there is a backlash against such openness and people will revert to being open only to a certain extent.

Human nature stays the same no matter what technology enables.

There is a backlash coming—the pendulum is much more likely to swing in the other direction (i.e. people insist on more privacy/anonymity) than not.

The more we know about each other's humanity, the more integrity, forgiveness and compassion. I like it.

We will hit a point where people realize their privacy will be FOREVER changed. At some point, making all of this personal information readily available will come back to haunt people. We will see people pull back on what they make available on the Internet.

Privacy and security will continue to be an issue. The scenario defined here is very utopian.

I foresee a pull-back from the direction in which this is going. So, I see this for some who have no sense of boundaries, and others who go “off the grid” to maintain their unique identity and privacy.

There will also be a market for “predictive speculation”—evaluating all the personal information available about someone and predicting (publically) what they are likely to do in the future.

I don't believe that society at large will ever fully give up its desire for privacy, no matter the perceived benefits.

Decreased transparency will follow from the increased governmental and industrial attempts at controlling the use of both technology and the information content. An unfortunate response will follow: less information actually available to users.

Yes, but it is a co-evolution with cultural acceptance of different behaviors. As a society we are more diverse and therefore better able to handle the coworker seen drinking on YouTube. I still believe, and hope, that proper discretion will be exhibited by all individuals.

I don’t see the trend moving in the direction as a society norm.

We're already starting to see the negative aspects of pervasive social networks (e.g. the Facebook Beacon fiasco) and this will only become more problematic as privacy continues to erode. Corporations will fine-tune data mining in social networks in order to emphasize consumerism. Governments are currently salivating over the potential to control their citizens even more through the use of such transparent social networks and will soon conduct new types of online surveillance.

As the ability to gather private information becomes easier, the natural tendency will be to hide and keep private what is left. Humans need their little secrets. It is encoded in our DNA. We cannot and will not feel comfortable naked, even if everyone else is.

Some people may become more immune to it, but it will still be shocking for others, just like reality TV.

Despite all the positive attributes of the Internet, cell phones, and other related technologies, people will still be concerned about privacy.

Distasteful as this future sounds, it seems likely that it is confirmed—Orwellian and full of reputation-corrective measures. Sounds nice for lawyers.

I think there will be an enlargement of the definition of individual to accommodate various roles that a person can project.

Personal responsibility and forgiveness are two human traits that will never become very pervasive in the general population.

Privacy shall never be jeopardized. The lack of privacy is the door to many abuses and mostly favours dictatorship of all kinds.

There will be less stigma for past indiscretions, yes, but I don't think data will be easily correctable. I think there'll be less stigma because the number of people who have been screwed by a similar circumstance will have increased; not because it'll be easy to correct (and correcting is basically going back and rewriting history, right? Who's to say people won't airbrush their past?

Although people will be even more open to sharing their personal information, etc., this will not lead to more forgiveness; and am afraid that it will be a lot longer before “carefully investigated reputation corrections and clarifications” are seen on major media sites

The example of the current TV show, where people take lie detector tests and have their lies expose to friends, family and the nation via TV for money shows that people, for the right “price” will sell their secrets. Further, palates are becoming jaded and the assumption is made that the more you see something, the more it is “okay,” so by 2020, the dark secrets that used to (perhaps rightfully) be things you should be ashamed of will be “okay” because people will be desensitized.

The ME, X & Y generations will prevail!

This will be the way, on my point of view, there will be a lack of privacy but a bigger importance of online reputation both on the personal and working side.

Much of this will hold true—especially the idea of forgiveness for past indiscretions—but let's not mistake the fad of today's MySpace/Facebook tsunami for a societal change. There will be a backlash against such wide-open intimacy. However (as Pew research has shown) the upcoming generation will still be more willing to share what was once considered personal information than previous generations. But not to the extent shown here.

I have a hard time seeing this happening as soon as 2020. It may be more likely outside the US.

Most folks have an online persona, their representation of themselves to the online world. If they are smart, the profiles will contain no intimate details that are true. Online payments will be made through anonymous accounts with pre-paid limits. The very idea of meeting in real life is preposterous, and an invitation to do so will be considered bad manners.

This is further than 10 years away. Expect to still be in a backlash against transparency in 2020. Ultimately people may get worn down enough not to care, and there is a large section of the population who already don't care about the invasive nature of technology, but if this “transparency” comes as part of a government mandate (at least within the US) then there will be significant outrage.

2020 is too soon for this level of optimism, and such technology will not be available everywhere for some time to come. Also, these developments are likely to highlight significant cultural differences in values. And history has shown that access to information about personal behavior of large numbers of people leads too easily to oppressive uses.

People can still hide behind their online images, which may be good facades or may reflect reality.

This seems a highly imaginary scenario for 2020. “Reputation corrections”? Are you kidding? Not in this world of titillation. Privacy remains extremely important as instances of either invasion of that privacy or foolish surrendering of it clearly demonstrates the unpleasant (to put it mildly) consequences.

There will ultimately be a backlash. It will take some sort of government intrusion to ignite it.

The idea that a reduction in shame will produce an increase in personal responsibility seems incoherent. Major media outlets in 2020? What will those be?

We still need some privacy ;-)

More identity-management platforms will arise to combat identity theft, manage reputation by polling, as well as claiming links and IP.

This will be led by the Millennial Generation and fought by all others.

Identity crime will also become more prevalent.

This generation will learn from their mistakes, i.e. posting embarrasing videos of themselves when they were younger. And things will come to a point where all information or data on the Internet is disposable.

As younger people age and move through life and career cycles, Information they shared when they were young might come back to haunt them. People will be more cautious, not less, in the future.

Facebook, etc., have already forced people to be more consistent between online and offline identity, since people increasingly interact with the same people on both.

Barring any major privacy or criminal scandals that shake the Internet social networking world to its newly laid foundations, I agree; however, I think the free-wheeling openness of these networks will remain more a generational fad. Younger Internet users will continue their stream-of-consciousness sharing of their private lives because that is part of their socialization drive in that stage of their lives. However, as the younger pioneering users of these social networks age—taking jobs and gaining seniority in their line of business or work; owning property and taking on mortgages; starting families and/or building or changing their careers—I think these users will be more circumspect about sharing their personal information for several reasons. One will be privacy issues. Another might be identity-theft worries. But another will be that they have more "brick-and -mortar" social connections that are more satisfying for them as they age. These older net workers still may use the Internet to network socially, but I see them being more circumspect about the limited amount of information they post on line, placing restrictions on who can access their Web pages.

Most likely the opposite is true. Information is power. And as a form of power, the use of it will continue to grow. Those in power will use information to maintain power. As with concerns from historic fascist states, the power of information will be used to reinforce the position of fascists. Society will become more divided as the things that distinguish us one from another become ever more under a microscope. In the past when  indiscretions might be forgiven because no one knew the true story, here the "true story" will be on YouTube, and the forces of division and alienation will continue to grow. This will breed a counterculture that is far better at managing personal information and is able to subvert the system.

While I agree that transparency will heighten the propensity of people to forgive, I don't believe it will have much of an impact on individual integrity. Unethical people will continue to do unethical things, regardless of (or even because of) who they think may be watching. This is primarily because they know that it is easier to beg for forgiveness (ideally with crocodile tears and earnest apologies on widespread media) than ask for permission. People will simply become more tolerant of increasingly outrageous behaviour.

I think this is a pendulum and it will swing back to desiring more privacy as the millennials find their indiscretions coming back to haunt them later in life. 

Transparency doesn't necessarily overcome prudery, biopolitics, or normative expectations.

Increased cases of online harassment and loss of privacy is the result of the increased connectivity.

Global criminal organizations will be perceied as a major threat to security, far beyond privacy. As long as drug-associated crime increases, people will not share private information.

There will be a strong backlash to this direction, because there's a basic human desire for some semblance of personal privacy. Forever there has been the need for having seen/unseen parts of your life, because that helps you actively manage what it means to be "you." If there is no boundary, then a person will believe they have lost control over their free will. My other concern is that it creates a rich/poor chasm, because the wealthy will pay for ways to screen/wall out the prying eyes. That's not good.

Except for the minority that value their privacy and are having major problems now with all the data sharing, this may be the way it goes.

Sounds about right, given mobile camera phones, videotaping by many and the success of MySpace and Facebook.

I don't think that "careful investigation" will be any more responsible of "careful" in 2020 than it is in 2007.

It will be 2030 or later before we see this happens.

Nah, people will still love embarrassing others. I do think, however, that what it takes to embarrass someone will get ever more extreme.

These developments would presume that people would be able to accept that people manifest themselves in a myriad of discrete often contradictory thoughts and actions that make up a whole person. While true, I don't hold much hope for this to be widely adopted as people are too prone to categorizing people into slots over accepting inconsistencies, particularly in others.

Privacy is gone forever; in a dozen years people will come to accept this fact.

Forgiveness is not the nature of the beast called media. It is unlikely that much will change. People will be held more accountable for past actions since everything is recorded, changing opinions will be more and more difficult. However, people will become more skilled at interpreting and understanding privacy rules. There will be a few high profile cases which will make providers of personal information think twice about the future consequences of what they put online, people will probably become more protective of certain aspects of their identity while continuing to push the boundaries for other aspects that have proven to be less problematic in the face of eternal registration of everything people do and say online.

Yes, as people interact with each other more, and information is exchanged more freely we will be less embarrassed about revealing truths.

I have already seen this trend beginning to grow.

People will be aware of how exposed they are today. The notion of privacy will be more informed, but people will not want to divulge info and more than they do today.

I believe there is going to be a backlash once the novelty of the Web wears off and people see their personal information available to all.

I don't think that people will embrace openness of deeply personal information. The advantage of many social networking sites is the ability to find people of similar interests without giving up anonymity at least until the individual feels "safe" to self-disclose.

Though I believe a large percentage of people will still value privacy and anonymity, the fact that “what is public” will have so infringed on "what is private" at this time that people will be hesitant to cast the first stone knowing full well that they may soon be on the receiving end themselves.

I suspect a “backlash” will have occurred by 2020. People will be actively seeking ways to LIMIT access to their information and looking for opportunities to mask their identity.

Propensity to share does not equate lowering of privacy concerns. Given the proliferation of media, corrections will be too time-consuming.

I would disagree that individuals will become more forgiving because as transparency heightens, there is less individual control, which may make people feel more trapped and isolated.  These feelings could create less forgiveness and empathy.

I think the much of the current social networking phenomenon will die of boredom soon. Most people's personal information, opinions, and emotions just aren't all that interesting to anyone but themselves. Right now people are enamored with the technology and process, but I don't think people genuinely connect with strangers over the Internet. People, as a mob, are not forgiving and there isn't enough time between now and 2020 for them to evolve into a new species. Same with integrity—not enough time to evolve more of it. They may, however, learn to be more careful. I hope people will come to understand we all run the risk of losing our personal liberty until we come to expect and demand personal privacy not only from other people, but from our government.

This will have to happen; otherwise, the Internet could face a "nuclear winter" where people are forced offline in order to protect their privacy from each other and from authorities and companies that use the information for their own agendas.

Our perpections of what is acceptable are widening in the digital age.

There will be a backlash to the transparency of the first decade.  While some may favor the suggested scenario, I don't believe people will truly become more responsible for their own actions.

Personal disclosure is a fad with a psychic reward that will fade. There will continue to be a wide range of personality types with only some choosing a lifestyle of personal branding and messaging.

The future of what "privacy" means will evolve into something very different than what people understand it to mean today.  Everyone will share and it will be clear that everyone makes mistakes and overcomes obstacles. We will be much more forgiving...and what will our “heroes” look like then?

There will be a backlash in the future with people going to the other extreme to protect their personal information.

People will not be more forgiving of pasts of others. Society is becoming more selfish.

This is an age-related phenomenon; when those who are sharing mature and have children their views will change. Finally we have to address identity theft before we can move to this vision.

The value of connectivity will become more important than privacy. We will have to all work to make sure this open space is not corrupted by identity theft and corporate piracy.
The opportunity cost of privacy will become increasingly prohibitive.

Honesty is a good thing. Find your comfort level.

There's going to be a backlash against sharing so much of one's personal life. And I hate to be cynical, but I doubt the media in 2020 will have “carefully investigated” anything.

While people are sharing online, much of it is not reality. The online world has opened up a Pandora's box of situations where untruths and doctored photos, videos and written false statements and comments prevail. Many people are reluctant to put their true feelings/thoughts online. There is no reason to believe many of the things you read online.

Nothing can change human nature.

Today's teens are already willing to sacrifice their privacy for access.

Human curiosity and human sense of self-dignity includes the quest for privacy and the desire to be left alone…Since governments are not becoming more transparent, the fight over sharing information with the state will continue, unless someone instigates some human catastrophe that will scare people into submission to the overwhelming power of the state.

Reputations are meant to represent not entertain.

Kids simply believe they are invincible and as such will subject themselves to the most embarrassing things, including being videotaped. Also, there will continue to be problems with security breaches that result in fluctuations in the notion of privacy and just how secure a person's information is online.

Whatever happened to privacy? It seems like many people don't even weigh it anymore.

The abuse of personal information will most likely outweigh the benefit of sharing such information with parties unknown. There has been no example that indiscriminate sharing leads to any benefit. There will constantly be pressure to mine personal information due to commercial and political incentives, but even those who favor such have not shown any ability to in fact take advantage of such information. It is likely that an incident that harms many people's interest will happen and increase the awareness. As for the tolerance of past indiscretions exposed on the Internet, it'd be in general no different from the same in other media or social context.

You have only to look at the growth of scam e-mail, the growth of identity theft, or the increased prevalence of child predators to see how the loss of privacy has allowed evil to thrive. While there will certainly be increased openness, there will rise a whole industry built on partitioning and protecting the data we want to keep public from that we wish to share.

Yes, people will be more open with their opinions and emotions because it is more comfortable to speak to a machine than it is to an actual human being when it comes to touchy subjects.

There is a backwash to major privacy invasions and revelations. Citizens of conservative worlds want more anonymity as governments become more restrictive.

I'm horrified at the stuff people publish online about themselves. Not only do they allow law enforcement and intelligence agencies easy access to their private details, but they also allow stalkers to quickly target them.

Personal information revealed online will become content that is owned by the person generating the content, just as other content is. It will no longer be available for harvesting without paying fees to the content owner.

And we will be absolutely innundated with [information about] the minor pecadillos of very minor celebrities.

Information provided in public has no expectation of privacy. Avatars will still be used as non-professional personas, so that people can manage what information becomes public about themselves. Transparency in professional life will however bring greater accountability and integrity.

Indiscretions vs. comfort in exchanging privacy for convenience are more distinct. I also see more restrictions (mostly due to commerce, not shame) on “amateur” sites.

I don't see a backlash against the tell-all exhibitionism and reality-show era we're in now.

Beware what you post on the Internet.

From what I can see of younger generations, the boundaries of what is private are dropping.

There is a growing trend toward openness and transparency that is reflected in people being more likely to share their profile on social networking sites, but it is unlikely to be as open as described. Most Facebook profiles, for instance, are viewable only to friends, not to the public. I don't think that's likely to change.

Behavior in general will deteriorate without responsibility and forgiveness. Being “outed”—although not perceived by the anonymous viewers as so serious—will be the source of a great deal of pain for victims. Nature doesn't change just because technology changes.

The generation growing up with a very open attitude toward sharing personal information and emotions online will still not have enough power to change the overall perception of privacy by the year 2020.

While certainly this premise is already moving forward, I don't necessarily see it automatically leading to people being “more responsible for their own actions and more forgiving of the sometimes-unethical pasts of others.” That the incident at Abu Ghraib was captured and that we learned of it is possible because of the advent and availability of camera phones. It’s a stretch to say that it's lead to a greater understanding and forgiveness between the cultures.

There will be a significant backlash against the “look at me” generation. If anything, the relative openness that we have seen in recent past has been affected ... people create the persona that they can't live in real life, and “manage” their online presence in a way that is very fake. That will only increase to the point where most people will have little trust on how people present themselves. I also believe that the infatuation with the human body and all means of improving oneself will also backfire on our culture and people will become a lot less trusting of the perfect hair, perfect teeth, perfect breasts and perfect thighs that are all too common a part of everyday life.

Society and culture continually swing between poles of privacy and transparency. I think assuming that there will be an abiding trend toward transparency is a bit too linear.

Have to disagree with this. There will always be those that value their privacy, at whatever the cost. People will say “enough” at some point in time. Additional complications come from people who, instead of offering their true selves for scrutiny, offer imagined versions of themselves. Verification of what is presented as the truth will become a common activity. The question then becomes, who is to say what is true or not?

People who say they value the opinions of “people like myself” still won't want to identify themselves.

Forgiveness will be no more forthcoming than previously. However, individuals will be so inundated by content that they will become numb. The bar will be raised for outrage but it will still exist. Expect that within micro-communities, standards, and expectations will vary.

I don't think it will change the level of integrity and forgiveness in either direction.