Elon University
About the Imagining the Internet Center

Imagining the Internet explores and provides insights into the impact of Internet evolution. It exposes future possibilities and provides a peek at the past. Here you will find the words of many thousands of people from every corner of the world, from today and yesterday, sharing their thoughts about the likely future of humankind. How will free expression, property, privacy, presence, identity, security, trust, economic development, human development, human relationships, human values and human rights evolve? A better tomorrow must be fueled by applied foresight today.

Internet Society Global INET 2012, Geneva, Switzerland.
Time Capsule: Past Future Forecasts

What were people saying about the potential promise and perils of networked digital communications at the turn of the millennium? When earlier communications innovations were introduced – the telegraph, radio, telephone and television – people predicted they would bring world peace. In the early 1990s folks said the same about the Internet. What looms in the future? AI far superior to human intelligence? Brain downloads? Here we offer three collections: a database of early 1990s predictions; predictions made by futurists in 2005; and stories of family life online in 2001.

photos of internet pioneers

"Virtual communities could help citizens revitalize democracy, or they could be luring us into an attractively packaged substitute for democratic discourse." - Howard Rheingold, 1993

"The struggle will not be over mechanical control of the means of information, but over spin-control of the zeitgeist." - Bruce Sterling, 1994

"We're going to have to look at information as if we'd never seen the stuff before... The economy of the future will be built on relationship rather than possession." - John Perry Barlow, 1994

"I had (and still have) a dream that the Web could be less of a television channel and more of an interactive sea of shared knowledge." - Tim Berners-Lee, 1995

"Creators will have to fight to attract attention and get paid. Creativity will proliferate, but quality will be scarce and hard to recognize." - Esther Dyson, 1995

“The value of information about information can be greater than the value of the information itself.” - Nicholas Negroponte, 1994

Multimedia Reports From Global Gatherings

How will newly emerging communications technologies change our lives and our world? What are the greatest challenges and opportunities that lie ahead? Researchers from Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center conduct video surveys and do documentary multimedia news coverage at major national and international communications events hosted by the Internet Society, United Nations-facilitated Global Internet Governance Forum, Internet Engineering Task Force, OECD. ITU and other multistakeholder communications-governance organizations.

2009 Internet Governance Forum, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
'Future of the Internet' Surveys Raise Issues

Elon University and Pew Internet Project researchers conduct annual or biennial surveys, asking leaders in technology, business, research, governance, education and human rights, plus others with expertise or insights, to answer issues-based questions tied to concerns arising in the digital age. They are offered a series of prompts to which they respond with richly detailed elaborations on the opportunities and challenges emerging at this time of accelerating technological change. They express their hopes and fears and share potential solutions.

previous arrow
next arrow