The latest projects undertaken by the
Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University

  Multimedia reports from Global INET,
  Internet Society's 20th anniversary

Documentary coverage of the Internet Society's 20th Anniversary Global INET conference in Geneva by a team of multimedia journalists from Elon University will include the details of 20 different session segments. Among the highlights expected are panel sessions on key issues to the future of the Internet and keynote talks by Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales, Google Vice President Vint Cerf, ARPANET pioneer scientist Leonard Kleinrock, Mozilla leader Mitchell Baker, Internet Society CEO Lynn St. Amour, the ITU's Hamadoun Touré and more. The Internet Society membership's vote on the "Defining Moments of the Internet" and the announcement of the inaugural class of the Internet Hall of Fame will also be top features of the conference.

The Future of the Internet surveys:
Issues illuminated by experts and the public

THE FUTURE OF THE INTERNET SURVEYS are distributed every two years with the goal of illuminating issues and engaging experts and the public in discussion. 


Economy expected to push
higher education's future to
a massive/personal divide

Will the tradional methods of the world's universities be much more displaced by new technologically based approaches? Will we see mass adoption of teleconferencing and online learning to leverage expert resources, individualized-learning, hybrid courses with online and in-person elements, and new assessments of learning and other customization of the educational experience that take individually-oriented outcomes into account? Or will we not see much evolution and mostly the "traditional" approach in 2020?

'Big Data' is expected to make
us more nimble, adaptive;
however, numbers can lie
#7 of 8 reports tied to data from Future V.

Will human and machine analysis of large data sets and the rollout of sensors and more IP-enabled objects be a primarily positive boon to our social, political, and economic intelligence by 2020, or will the rise of Big Data become a big negative for society?

Corporate Social Responsibility:
How far will tech firms go
in helping repressive regimes?
#6 of 8 reports tied to data from Future V.

By 2020, will technology firms take more or less responsibility to protect individual citizens and human rights? Will they tend to make decisions mostly based on profit motives and pleasing those in power, even filtering and editing their services on behalf of the worlds' authoritarian regimes?

Tech-advanced homes will
evolve slowly due to
systems' complexity, costs

#5 of 8 reports tied to data from Future V.
Will the connected household in 2020 be a model of efficiency in which people are able to manage consumption of electricity, water, food, bandwidth to save money and be envinonmentally sustainable? Or are there too many hurdles for such approaches to be widely adopted by many people liviing in connected homes?

Getting into the gamification?
Expect 'game layers' to expand,
with positive negative impacts.

#4 of 8 reports tied to data from Future V.
Will the use of game mechanics, feedback loops, and rewards to spur interaction and boost engagement, loyalty, fun, or learning begin to play a role in some way in the everyday activities of most of the people who are actively using communications networks?

What IS your wallet? By 2020, most
smartphones could be e-wallets
but only if industry supports it.
#3 of 8 reports tied to data from Future V.

A majority expressed hope or confidence that smartphones will become e-wallets, offering more secure payments that are easy for consumers to track and learn from. However, many top experts said it is up to those who control transaction systems to build the infrastructure and support for this, and they are hesitant to lose current profit centers.

The Web Is Dead? No. Experts expect apps
and the Web to converge in the cloud; say
simplicity for users will come at a cost. 
#2 of 8 reports tied to data from Future V.

A majority expressed hope or confidence that even in the age of small, mobile, smart devices and apps the Web will remain the dominant space for 2020 users to access and share information online. Many noted HTML5 and new versions of popular browsers are bringing new functionalities; many said simplification of user choices and design has positive and negative implications.

Gen AO - Always On - Is It 'Wired' Differently? 
#1 of 8 reports tied to data from Future Survey V, shares experts' opinions about the hyperconnected generation that will be in their teens-to-20s by 2020. From their amazing ability to juggle many tasks and communicate quickly to their thirst for collaboration, craving for instant gratification and lack of patience, between now and 2020 Generation AO will benefit and suffer thanks to their reliance on rapidly evolving digital information networks. They will approach problems in a different way from their elders. "There is no doubt that brains are being rewired," said danah boyd of Microsoft Research. In the new survey, boyd and more than 1,000 other technology stakeholders and critics discuss their expectations for hyperconnected youth.

IN THE FUTURE OF THE INTERNET IV survey respondents shared thousands of issues-exposing predictive statements tied to 10 "tension pairs" projecting their attitudes about the likely state of things in 2020. Experts were asked about the Internet and the evolution of: intelligence; reading and the rendering of knowledge; identity and authentication; gadgets and applications; relationships; institutions; cloud computing; the semantic Web; Generation Y; and the core values of the Internet. Deeper content about the answers to all 10 survey queries, including thousands of responses and the links to the PDFs of the six official reports generated from this survey, is available on this site, starting at the following link:

A book on the survey results with additional analysis, "Challenges and Opportunities: The Future of the Internet, Volume 4," was published by Cambria Press (2011). To view a PDF with details about all four titles in the Future of the Internet book series published by the Imagining the Internet Center, the Pew Internet & American Life Project and Cambria Press, click the following link:

  Coverage of Global IGF 2011 and
  IGF 2010 in Kenya and Lithuania

Thousands of concerned citizens of the world from every walk of life gather annually at the Internet Governance Forum to discuss the future of the Internet. Imagining the Internet has recorded thousands of videos and news stories at the global events the past five years. Among the issues discussed: balancing of cybersecurity and privacy; management of critical Internet resources; youth online; transnationalization of the Internet and the question of whether the IGF should be continued and, if so, how. The events are facilitated annually by the UN. Stakeholders gather at IGF to illuminate issues and find ways to work together; the forum is a space in which dialogues take place and new dynamics of cooperation may be created.

Kenya, 2011 Global IGF: 
Lithuania, 2010 Global IGF:

Coverage of the IGF-USA
Washington, D.C., 2012, 2
011, 2010, 2009

Hundreds of Internet stakeholders representing civil society, government, the technology/research sector, industry and academia gather in Washington, D.C., each July for the annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum-USA. Imagining the Internet completes video and written coverage of the plenary sessions and workshops, and you will find those elements being continually added to this site. IGF-USA was established to involve Internet activists in discussions to help broaden understanding and identify best practices that can inform global decisions that affect the Internet. Among the governance topics discussed are: management of critical Internet resources, privacy, cybersecurity, access, openness/freedom of expression, young people and the future of the Internet, capacity building and development.

WWWhere are we heading?

As part of the global WWW2010 event the Raleigh Convention Center was alive with action as Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center hosted FutureWeb: WWWhere Are We Heading? The event featured smart discussions about the ways the evolution of the World Wide Web will continue to impact the social, political and economic landscape as speakers, panelists and participants explored the future of social networks, open source, the media, privacy, public health, education, core values, Web analytics, print publishing, and more.Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, Danny Weitzner, danah boyd, Chris DiBona, Bob Young, Marc Rotenberg, Doc Searls, Lee Rainie, David Burney, Dave Recordon, Tom Rabon, Penny Abernathy, Michael Rappa, Paul Jones, Cathy Davidson, Henry Copeland, Fred Stutzman, Mark Anthony Neal, Negar Mottahedeh, Janna Anderson and Tony O’Driscoll. Attendees discussed the probable evolution of the Web and what it will mean for our social, political and economic future.

See Imagining the Internet's full coverage

Read about FutureWeb on Twitter

Look to WordPress for conference coverage

The Future of the Internet III
   2008 Survey by Elon University and the
   Pew Internet & American Life Project

Technology stakeholders and critics asked to assess the future social, political, and economic impact of the Internet say the mobile device will be the primary connection tool for most people in the world in 2020; the enhancement of communication will not heighten social tolerance; those working to perfect IP law and copyright protection will remain in a continuing “arms race,” with the “crackers” who find ways to copy and share content without payment; “next-generation” engineering of the network will be used to improve the current Internet architecture and not to produce a new Internet; there’s about a 50-50 split when people are asked if the new transparency of humans and organizations will heighten personal integrity and forgiveness; talk and touch user interfaces will be more prevalent and accepted by 2020; and the divisions between “personal” and work time and between physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who’s connected. In the third Future of the Internet survey, a total of 1,996 participants who shared their views.

Results from experts and from the full cohort of respondents are included in the full report:

  Other recent projects...

Video Interviews from OECD Future of the Internet Economy Conference in Seoul
This set of links allows you to hear the thoughts of 31 Internet stakeholders who attended the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy in Seoul, Korea. They express their hopes and fears for the future of the Internet in this series of interviews.

The IGF-Rio Survey, "Realizing the Global Promise of the Internet: The Future of Internet Governance"
This set of links leads to the complete data from a survey of Internet Governance Forum-Rio participants that measured attitudes about current and likely Internet governance policy initiatives. Here you will find the executive summary, a PDF of the full 42-page survey report and charts, and qualitative written elaborations from survey respondents.

Video Interviews, Blogs and Explanatory News Videos from IGF Rio
This set of links offers comprehensive written and video coverage of the 2007 Internet Governance Forum in Rio, including individual interviews with governance stakeholders and video packages about top issues such as critical Internet resources, access, openness, security and diversity.

Acclaimed book series based on the Future of the Internet surveys

Up for Grabs:
The Future of the Internet I

In brief: "Up for Grabs"  (Cambria Press) is a print volume - number one in a series - that includes most of the data generated for the first "Future of the Internet" survey conducted by Elon University and the Pew Internet & American Life Project. How will the Internet be expected to change the workplace, family life, education and many other foundations of society between 2004 and 2014? Profoundly. That was the forecast of nearly 1,300 leading technology experts and scholars who responded to The Future of the Internet I, a 2004 survey by researchers at the Pew Internet & American Life Project and Elon University. The extensive elaborations supplied by survey respondents provide a vision of a networked, digital future that enhances many peoples' lives but also has some distressing, even dangerous, implications. The big-picture Internet issues of the next decade, as foreseen by the experts in this survey, include: positive and negative changes in the family dynamic; a conflict between our desire for privacy, security and ownership of intellectual property and our desire for the convenience of free information sharing on networked devices; and a concern over being inundated with information. The book is available from online booksellers or you can order it directly from the publisher, Cambria Press, online. For more details, click here.

Hopes and Fears:
The Future of the Internet II

In brief: The second book in the Future of the Internet series, "Hopes and Fears," was released late in 2008. It contains data gathered in the 2006 Future of the Internet II survey. Participants in the study reacted to a variety of 2020 networked information technology scenarios related to national boundaries, human languages, artificial intelligence and other topics. Among the questions implicit in the scenarios were: Will more people choose to live "off the grid"? Will autonomous machines leave people out of the loop? Will English be the lingua franca? Will national boundaries be displaced by new groupings? Among the themes in the predictions: Continued serious erosion of individual privacy; the improvement of virtual reality and rising problems tied to it; greater economic opportunities in developing nations; changes in languages; the rise of autonomous machines that operate beyond human control.

"Hopes and Fears: The Future of the Internet Volume 2" is available from online booksellers and the publisher, Cambria. To see more information from Cambria Press, click here.

Ubiquity, Mobility, Security:
The Future of the Internet III

In brief: The third book in the Future of the Internet series by Cambria includes insights on the role and importance of mobile devices, the transparency of people and organizations, talk and touch user interfaces with the Internet, the challenges of sharing content while trying to perfect intellectual property law and copyright protection, divisions between work and personal time given the blurring of physical and virtual reality, and the "next-generation" engineering of the network to improve the current Internet structure. Among the respondents are people affiliated with many of the world's top organizations, including IBM, AOL, Microsoft, Intel, ICANN, the Internet Society, Google, W3C, Internet2, and Oracle; Harvard, MIT, and Yale; and the FCC, FBI, U.S. Census Bureau, and U.S. Department of State. They provide significant and telling responses to questions about the future of government, education, media, entertainment, commerce, and more. They foresee continuing conflicts over control of networked communications and the content produced and shared online.

The Future of the Internet IV Challenges and Opportunities Imagining the Internet

Challenges and Opportunities:
The Future of the Internet IV

In brief: The fourth book in the Future of the Internet series by Cambria Press shares experts answers to such questions as, "Is Google making us stupid - what is the future of intelligence in the age of instant information?" This and other important issues were addressed by nearly 900 expert respondents who wrote compelling answers to the 10 questions asked in the Future of the Internet IV survey. Technologists, business leaders, scholars and others shared their views about the Internet and the evolution of: intelligence; reading, writing and the rendering of knowledge; identity and authentication; gadgets, applications and the predictability of innovation; personal and social relationships; industrial-age institutions; cloud computing; the Semantic Web and Linked Data; Generation Y, also known as the Millennials; and the core values of the Internet, such as the end-to-end principle. This book is an extension of and deeper look at the results of six Pew Internet/Imagining the Internet Center reports generated from the survey in 2010.

descriptionAlso, already in print...
Imagining the Internet

Click here to read brief excerpts from each chapter
Selected by the American Library Association as a "Choice" book for 2006 - named an outstanding academic title - in the top 10 percent of works published.

In brief: "Imagining the Internet: Personalities, Predictions, Perspectives"(Rowman & Littlefield), is a print book that serves as a companion to this database. In addition to offering a large collection of quotable forecasts from tech luminaries of the 1990s, it includes a brief history lesson and a deep look at the future of pervasive networks of all kinds, incorporating the stories of Six Degrees, the Romantics, the Utopians, technorealists, gaia, and a projected battle between Cosmists and Terrans over a future in which artilects may dominate the galaxy. It shares concepts of such thinkers as Ithiel de Sola Pool, Vannevar Bush, Duncan Watts, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, and Isaac Asimov while parsing the thoughts of Bill Gates, Nicholas Negroponte, John Perry Barlow, Bruce Sterling, Clifford Stoll, Al Gore, and dozens of other networked communications stakeholders and skeptics. The book can be ordered (softcover for under $30; hardcover about $75) from online retailers, including Barnes & Noble and or you can order it directly from Rowman & Littlefield online.

Recommendations for "Imagining the Internet"

"Janna Anderson offers a great perspective on the history and future of the Internet based on Elon University/Pew Internet & American Life Project's extensive prediction collection. Good books come from thorough research. Starting with the earliest communications systems, such as the telegraph, is a useful bonus. Being a part of and having the last word in this fine past-and-future Internet chronicle is a real honor."- Gordon Bell, vice president of research and development, DEC; leader of the National Science Foundation's Information Superhighway Initiative; senior researcher, Microsoft

"There are many books on the Internet and cyberculture - part hype, part gloss, sometimes solid technology criticism. Anderson's book is valuable because it helps sort out differing viewpoints and puts them in a historical context, recreating many of the ups and downs of the 1990s, before things got really crazy. She has an amazing database of predictions, collected over time, and selects from it well. This book is never dense reading, but it is packed with interesting facts and milestones to jar my memory, to help me recreate what that time was like, because the subtle changes are what have worked us over so thoroughly. My favorite part in these excursions into the words of technology prophets and critics is picking out the threads that had an influence - that helped shape the larger visions of what this massive commons has become." - Christine Boese, cyberculture columnist,; writer, CNN Headline News

"Janna Anderson illuminates with great clarity the history, dreams, and challenges of the Internet, which allow the reader to see glimpses of the future. A wonderful and important contribution."- Tiffany Shlain, founder and chair, the Webby Awards

"Anderson examines the sometimes prescient, sometimes humorously off-base predictions made about the possible evolution of the Internet during the early 1990s... Anderson's knowledge is encyclopedic, and her accessible, jargon-free style - reminiscent of New York Times science writer Gina Kolata's - will engage professors and researchers without alienating undergraduates. Like the essay anthology 'Web.Studies,' ed. by David Gauntlett and Ross Horsley, and Katie Hafner's historical text 'Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet,' this book would make a choice acquisition for any library's technology section. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers." - M.E. DiPaolo, in a review for CHOICE, published by the American Library Association

"[Imagining the Internet] looks at the future through an analysis of the past. It is somewhat difficult after becoming immersed in these insights to remember that Internet communication began with the utmost diffidence. Indeed the first events involved a computer crash and unmemorable twaddle. ... We hope that this material will be useful to scholars who wish to assess the distance we have come; journalists who are trying to figure out where we are now; government, industry, and nonprofit officials who want to build the Internet of the future; and people of all walks of life who must learn to recognize the coming complexities of their networked world."- Lee Rainie, director, the Pew Internet & American Life Project, from the Foreword


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