Elon University

About Imagining the Internet

The Imagining the Internet Center’s mission is to explore and provide insights into emerging network innovations, global development, dynamics, diffusion and governance. Its research holds a mirror to humanity’s use of communications technologies, informs policy development, exposes potential futures and provides a historic record. It works to illuminate issues in order to serve the greater good, making its work public, free and open. The Imagining the Internet Center sponsors work that brings people together to share their visions for the future of communications and the future of the world. Find out more by viewing the 5-minute video below.

Imagining the Internet’s executive director is Janna Anderson (andersj@elon.edu).

Direct media inquiries to Dan Anderson, special assistant to the president, or Owen Covington, assistant vice president for strategic communications and media relations.

To see the full, 11-minute version of the video, visit our YouTube channel.

The center is a network of Elon University faculty, students, staff, alumni, advisers and friends working to identify, explore and engage with the challenges and opportunities of evolving communications forms and issues. They investigate the tangible and potential pros and cons of new-media channels through active research. Among the spectrum of issues addressed are power, politics, privacy, property, augmented and virtual reality, control and the rapid changes spurred by accelerating technology.

What You Will Find on This Award-Winning Site

The Elon University site Imagining the Internet: A History and Forecast is a multi-section resource containing thousands of pages. It exposes future possibilities while simultaneously providing a peek back at the past. In it, you will find the words of thousands of people from every corner of the world, from today and from yesterday, making thousands of predictive pronouncements about the future of humankind.

  • This resource offers thousands of experts’ written assessments of where trends may take us – Dozens of expert surveys have been conducted by Imagining the Internet and Pew Research since 2004, now numbering in the thousands of pages of data including tens of thousands of predictions of potential communications/human evolution while that evolution has been in process.
  • It includes video and audio interviews recorded at global events that reveal future hopes and challenges as expressed by thousands of Internet leaders, including Vint Cerf, Douglas Engelbart, Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Kahn and global policy professionals (Event Coverage).
  • Early ’90s Predictions Database – The site shares a look back at what technologists, pundits and others were predicting about the future of the Internet in the 1990s, during the “awe” stage of its development (Time Capsule: Early ’90s Predictions Database).
  • Communications history – This resource features special explanatory sections on the future and past development of communications networks (Time Capsule: Forward 150/Back 150).
  • Plucky, prescient and wacky public predictions – A searchable set of Voices of the People predictions were submitted directly to the Imagining the Internet site by its fans between 2004 and 2013.
  • Informative areas targeted to benefit children and teachers of elementary, middle school, high school and college students use the site to educate (KidZone and Teachers’ Tips).
  • And it records a legacy of predictive statements as they are made, continuously building a historic record of lasting value that documents the way we see ourselves as we move into an explosion of changes wrought by the combination of human ingenuity, human networks and rapidly evolving technologies.

Details about the evolution of Imagining the Internet can be found here.

Details about the builders of the site can be found here.

Why Is It Vital to Study the Future?

Better policy choices and social planning can be accomplished if the coming impact of new technologies can be accurately pre-assessed.

  • Read a brief explanation of the importance of forward-thinking and pre-planning here.
  • Access suggestions for cultivating futures thinking here.