IGF 2009

2009 IGF Egypt Survey
What is your greatest hope for the future of the Internet?

Imagining the Internet conducted a video survey of IGF-Egypt participants, recording formal interviews with 43 people who were willing to take credit for their responses to five questions. A convenience sample of responses to the question “What is your greatest hope for the future of the Internet?” was gathered at random from among the 1,800 or so people attending the 2009 event.

>Question One: Continuing IGF
>Question Two: Hope for the Internet
>Question Three: Concern for the Internet
>Question Four: 20 years from now
>Question Five: Internet in one word

The written content on this page is a brief sampling of just a few partial quotes from the many responses recorded. To get an accurate representation of all responses in full, watch all of the videos. Each clip is brief, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to less than 2 minutes.

One of the most common answers to the “greatest hope” question was expressed in people's desire to achieve Internet access for all, which was also referred to by some as a “human right.”

Emmanuel Edet, of Nigeria’s National Information Technology Development Agency, said, “I have firsthand experience in how difficult it is sometimes to get information which most people in developed countries take for granted. I think access for all would be the primary thing.”

Virat Bhatia of AT&T India said his hope for the future of the Internet is that we can bridge the digital divide “between the haves and have-nots.” He noted that “a greater level of access and a cheaper level of access” has tremendous benefits for emerging economies.

Nathaniel James, director of OneWebDay, said his hope for the future of the Internet is “universal access by a powerful network of Internet users.”

Rod Beckstrom, CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, said his hope is that “it spreads to everyone on this planet – one world, one Internet, everyone connected.”

Bruce Schneier, security policy specialist for British Telecom, said in a world with the Internet “the limitations of physicality don’t apply… on the Internet you can interact with anybody, anywhere, anytime; you can group by interest, you can group by belief, you don’t have to group by geography, and I want the world to fully realize the value of that – that technology, that socialization to be available to everybody everywhere. We can do that.”

Another popular theme for answers to this question was an emphasis on maintaining the original values established in the 1970s through the early 1990s by the pioneers of the Internet.

Robert Guerra, director at Freedom House, mentioned “the principles when it was first created” as he noted that his hope is “that it be a communications medium, that there be a free flow of information across the world, that it connect people and that ideas and communications not be restricted.”

Jeremy Malcolm, a technology policy expert for Consumers International, said, “I hope the Internet won’t completely lose its original ethos, which was based around openness, freedom of expression and so on.”

John Wilbanks, a vice president for Creative Commons who directs the activities of Science Commons, said, “My greatest hope is that it stays open. What makes the Internet valuable is that it’s public, it’s that anyone can connect to it and do things without asking for permission. That’s what gives us the educational benefits as well as the commercial benefits like eBay and what have you. If everybody had to ask permission before they started … it would be unlikely that we would have this explosion of creativity that we’ve had. So my greatest hope is that we don’t forget the lessons of the open infrastructure that got us here.”

There were many other responses with the theme of information for all.

Peng Hwa Ang, director of the Singapore Internet Research Center, said, “The Internet can be used for human development … making government more transparent, less corrupt and really helping citizens, and people develop economically and socially, especially in developing countries. And in the developed world it’s building on what we have, making society more transparent, more engaging for the citizenry. It’s a whole spectrum of benefits.”

Max Senges, a policy expert for Google based in Berlin, said his hope is focused on a positive future for the architecture of Internet governance. “A robust Internet governance structure that works all the way from the local level to the global level – a human-rights-based approach to all Internet governance questions,” he said.

Interviews were conducted by Andie Diemer, Shelley Russell, Drew Smith and Eugene Daniel, researchers from Elon University's School of Communications, under the supervision of Janna Anderson, associate professor and director of the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon.

>2009 IGF Egypt Survey home

A project of the Elon University School of Communications
All rights reserved. Contact us at predictions@elon.edu