Understanding the Search Fields in the
Elon University/Pew Imagining the Internet Database
Name of Predictor
This database uses the most formal regularly utilized form of the
predictors' names (i.e. Vinton Cerf, rather than Vint Cerf). Some
of the database predictions were made by a group of two, three or
four researchers; in these cases, a lead name and some or all of
the additional names are listed - database fields included names
of a second and/or third predictor. Some predictions were made by
an anonymous person or a group representing a foundation or organization
in a position paper, book, etc. that does not identify an author.
For these, the predictor may be listed simply as "expert"
or as a group title such as "Benton Foundation." In some
cases, the predictor may have been writing under a pseudonym; we
include the "real" names with those whose pseudonyms we
were able to trace. Please note that we have meticulously recorded
predictions in the way they were reported; understand that predictors
can be misquoted or taken out of context in a report. In other words,
most of these predictions have been mediated by writers, reporters
and/or editors. When you study what a predictor is reported to have
said, remember the layers of mediation involved in getting that
message out to the world. Some of the predictions in this database
were not mediated in any way - for instance, they may be taken directly
from videotaped discussions or postings made by these individuals
on the Internet with no mediation involved.
The predictions are categorized by topic and subtopic. The eight
topic categories are:
In the sorting process completed in the preparation of this database,
predictions were often found to fit appropriately in multiple categories.
In these cases, they were filed in the area of the database that
seemed most appropriate.
- Controversial Issues
- Economic Structures
- General, Overarching Remarks
- Getting Information
- Global Relationships/Politics
- Information Infrastructure
This database has been catalogued by dividing content into eight
different topic fields. Seven of these fields are also divided into
seven or more subtopic fields. The initial categories and groupings
used during the search for items to place in the database were derived
from Internet-based Q sorts for an earlier study by Elon University
professors Byung Lee and Janna Quitney Anderson and from the research
study "Forecasting the Internet: A Retrospective Technology
Assessment," completed by Elon University's Constance Book
under a grant from the Pew Internet & American Life Project
in 2002. They were modified after the predictions were logged in
order to better categorize the eventual findings of this predictions
study. The predictions in the "General, Overarching Remarks"
category stand as one large group, with no subcategories. The other
seven topics are broken into subtopic areas based on their content.
Some of the more generalized predictions could easily have fit in
more than one of the subtopic areas; in these cases, they were filed
in the area of the database that seemed most appropriate. Following
are the subtopic categories:
- Communication - E-mail; Internet Telephony;
Security/Encryption; Video Conferencing; Viruses/Worms; Wireless
- Community/Culture - Cyberpunks/Hackers; Ethics/Values;
Human-Machine Interaction; Information Overload; MOOs/MUDs/Bulletin
Boards/Newsgroups; Relationships; Social Withdrawal/Addiction;
Virtual Communities; General.
- Controversial Issues - Anonymity/Personal Identity;
Censorship/Free Speech; Copyright/Intellectual Property/Plagiarism;
Crime/Fraud/Terrorism; Defamation/Libel; Digital Divide; Jurisdiction/Control;
Privacy/Surveillance; Pornography; General.
- Economic Structures - E-cash; E-commerce; Employment;
Gambling; Microtransactions; Shopping; Telecommuting; Tax Issues;
- Getting Information - Advertising/Public Relations;
Crisis Management; Databases/Libraries; E-learning; Gaming; Intelligent
Agents/Artificial Intelligence; Journalism/Media; Medical/Professional;
Music; Newspapers; Publishing; TV/Films/Video; Virtual Reality;
- Global Relationships/Politics - Campaigns/Voting;
Creating a Smaller World; Democracy; Government; Peacekeeping/Warfare;
Third-World Nations; General.
- Information Infrastructure - Bandwidth; Cost/Pricing;
Internet Appliances; Internet Service Providers; Language/Interface/Software;
Number of Users; Open Access; Pipeline/Switching/Hardware; Protocols;
Role of Govt./Industry; Universal Service; Wireless Technologies;
Area of Expertise
Each predictor included in the database is sorted into a category
describing his or her background. Some predictors could possibly
fit in more than one of these categories; each was listed in what
appeared to be the one category that best describes the dominant
label for that person in the early 1990s. For instance, from 1990
to 1995 Nicholas Negroponte was a researcher, an administrator,
an author, an illuminator, a futurist, a consultant and much, much
more. He was sorted into the Pioneer/Originator category due to
his digital evangelism, his co-founding of MIT's Media Lab, and
his key support for the lift-off of Wired magazine. It should also
be noted that the "expertise" category is a mix. A person
who is classified in the researcher/illuminator category may not
be a researcher, but an illuminator. A person in the technology
developer/administrator category may not develop technology, but
that person may be an administrator of a technology group or support
group. The categories are built this way to be more adaptable and
descriptive. They were determined based on a four-week book- and
Internet-based content search for the names and descriptions of
Internet luminaries of the early 1990s. The classifications are
subjective decisions made by individual coders and verified by only
one other individual. The "expertise" categories are:
- Advocate/Voice of the People
- Entrepreneur/Business Leader
- Research Scientist/Illuminator
- Technology Developer/Administrator
Date of Prediction and Date of Publication
The time parameters for the database are Jan. 1, 1990, through Dec.
31, 1995. In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee developed the idea of his "World-Wide
Web" and wrote the html source code. In 1995, U.S. government
"ownership" of the Internet ended, making way for commercial
and consumer use to explode. 1995 was also the year in which Netscape
Mosaic, the revolutionary Internet browser, went public. These years
are the database bookends - the statements included in the database
had to be spoken or published sometime within that span of time.
Statements that were not dated clearly were not included.
In the process of gathering information to include in the database,
the Internet locations of the original documents found online were
recorded in all situations in which it was possible to do so. These
are included in the database, but the links may change or disappear
over time. Thus, eventually, some of them will no longer be effective
links to the original documents. Book and other publication page
numbers are listed where appropriate.
Medium (in Which Prediction was Made)
Choices here include:
- Business Memo
- Foundation Report
- Government Report
- Industry Report
- Internet Site
- Magazine (consumer)
- Magazine (professional)
- Newsletter (print)
- Newspaper (print)
- Online Book or E-book
- Online Chat/Newsgroup Discussion
- Online Newsletter
- Online Journal
- Professional Journal (print)
- Research Paper/Presentation
- TV/Radio Broadcast
- Wire Service (AP, Business Wire, etc.)
Publication (in Which Prediction was Made)
The formal title of each publication is recorded here, thus making
it easy to single out and study predictions made in articles from
Wired, the New York Times, or in the books "Being Digital,"
"The Road Ahead," etc.
The precise title, headline or name of each article, speech or conference
presentation is included in this database field.
Author of Article/Book
The name of the writer of a source article or book or whatever is
included in this Predictions Database field. If the article, book,
etc. was written/produced by the predictor, then it carries that
name. Much of the material was written/produced by other authors;
those names are here. If the author was a group entity - for instance
in a report with no one specific author published by the National
Science Foundation, the name of the group (National Science Foundation)
is entered in this field.
A PREDICTION is a foretelling - positive or negative - of things
to come; an educated guess at what yet may come to pass. This database
includes statements about what is likely to unfold in the future.
In the process of including context, the database "prediction"
listings also may carry background detail about things that were
taking place at the time and things that had already come to pass.
Cataloguer's I.D. Code
This data is not included in the online version of the database.
It is housed with the archived hard copies of predictions database
materials. Every researcher on the Predictions Team was assigned
a code set consisting of the person's three personal initials followed
by the four-digit number of the prediction the person filed. For
instance, Janna Quitney Anderson is JQA. The first prediction she
filed is JQA-0001. In addition to being numbered in this way in
the URL of the online database, it is numbered on a corresponding
hard copy of the original article, kept at Elon University in the
Elon/Pew Predictions Database Archive. The original documents that
gave birth to this database are housed in the archive.
Using the Database
This database illuminates the Internet ideas and issues of the first
half of the 1990s. We encourage you to use it as a base of exploration
for newly generated articles, speeches and research. We ask that
you please credit the Elon/Pew Predictions Database if you make
use of any of the collected materials.