Elon University

The 2010 IGF Survey: What is your greatest hope for the future of the Internet?

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Researchers from the Imagining the Internet Center conducted a video survey of Global IGF 2010 participants, recording interviews with more than 60 stakeholders from all sectors of society about the evolution of the Internet. Use the video viewer to see their responses. Click on the first video to begin a player that will cycle through all visible on this page or click on those you wish to view. To see additional videos, click on the numbers at the end of the video column to display additional videos – there are dozens more than you see here. The question in this video set was: “What is your greatest hope for the future of the Internet?”

Links to 2010 questions: 
>Q1: Cloud computing
>Q2: The mobile Internet
>Q3: Human right?
>Q4: Influence of intermediaries
>Q5: Influence of the IGF
>Q6: Greatest hope for the Internet
>Q7: Greatest fear for the Internet
>Q8: Future in 10 seconds

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 a few minutes. Some respondents gave extended answers; some may be edited for brevity if necessary but the majority should include the full response.

Most of the people surveyed noted that the open discussions conducted at IGF are important because people can speak freely about the challenges and opportunities of the Internet.

Bertrand de La Chapelle, leader in WSIS, member of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, elected to ICANN board: The greatest hope is that this common space develops. That we develop for this common space, rules of coexistence. So that people can still have different value systems, different political values, different religious values and still find rules for coexistence. It is not easy, but it is a condition for the Internet to remain a place of exchange and it requires rules of engagement and behavior.

Katherine Fialova, Association for Progressive Communication, Czech Republic: All the citizens in the world would have access to the Internet, to quality Internet, to fast-speed Internet. They would be able to handle it with great skill. They would be able to produce content. They would be able to protect themselves not leaving it to anyone else like the governments or maybe even like their parents to take care of them and protect them because they will have the skills to protect themselves.

Vint Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol and Internet evangelist for Google: Well I think my greatest hope is that we will continue to take advantage of information that people are willing to share.

I was quite stunned when Tim Berners-Lee sort of unleashed the World Wide Web application, at the willingness of people to put information into the system, not because they wanted to be compensated, but because they wanted people to have access to what they knew. There is some satisfaction in knowing that what you knew helped somebody else. So although that sounds a little altruistic, and you’re, in fact, getting paid back in satisfaction for having shared information, it’s very hard to explain to someone who has not actually tried this, or used the Internet, or used a search engine to realize how much information we have almost instantaneous access to. The fact that you can sit down and ask a random question and often get a reasonable answer out of the World Wide Web is quite astonishing.

The Wikipedia statistics tell it all. Encyclopedia Britannica had 65,000 articles, Wikipedia has 3.3 million, or something like that. People argue over the quality of the information but, stunningly, a lot of it is quite good or quite accurate, at least the pieces I happen to know about.

So my biggest hope is that we keep leveraging and taking advantage of our ability to share information for scientific progress, for social benefits, for economic development and for freedom of expression.

Fernando Botehlo, F123.org, Brazil: My greatest hope is that we go back to the principles that started the Internet. Where everyone has the right for full access, that the network is neutral in terms of applications. That the network allows, let’s say, an equal level of quality of service and so forth so that innovation may flourish.

Rafid Fatani, PhD student, University of Exeter, UK, from Saudi Arabia: My biggest hope for the future of the Internet is having an open Internet that is secure. I know it’s one of those things that people think they’re opposites and one can’t be achieved without leaving the other one out, but I honestly believe that through the IGF process we can engage in finding new ways where we can be secure and open at the same time. We can protect our users while being able to surf and find knowledge everywhere.

Rajab Faraj, Telecom and Technology of Libya: For it to be accessible for everybody in the world, especially in developing countries, like in Africa and Asia. This is what I’m hoping, that everyone will have accessibility to the Internet, and also more content on the Internet, especially in Africa there is very little content on the Internet, mostly it is in English and some European content I think is more than that.

Mike Sax, president of the mobile app company Sax.net, US: My greatest hope for the future of the Internet is that it will bring people together, it will increase mutual understanding, it will allow people in remote places who currently are isolated to have access to learning opportunities, and also to pursue opportunities to connect with people that they could only dream of before.

Valery Trufunau, International Humanitarian Economic Institute, Belarus: My reason for working with the Internet is to save time. A lot of time I share my views through words. It would be very comfortable to get some kind of machine where you just form your thoughts into pictures and it would be clear. Because I don’t like to read long statements I prefer to watch the media, and it would be more informative and save time.

Garland McCoy, founder of the Technology Policy Institute, US: Well, I guess just simply that it keeps just making the incredible quantum-leap progress that it’s made. I mean you look at the speed, the robustness, and the technology that’s coming on and how quickly they’re becoming ubiquitous and extraordinarily inexpensive, the price points are just dropping.

Everyone just focuses on America, you know, Google, and Facebook and Twitter. But what developing countries, like in Africa, have done with digital currency is just stunning and far ahead of the industrial countries in terms of how they’re using their phone as a business tool, to conduct business, to conduct financial business, to exchange money, to move money around. As opposed to, I’ve got credit cards and all this stuff, you know. They’re ahead of us in those areas.

We’re creating a very fertile environment for all of this experimentation for all of these ideas to come about. It isn’t perfect, by no means is it perfect, but I think it is decidedly moving in the right direction.

I think the only thing is that anyone who knows anything about these things is just hoping and praying that the regulators both regionally and nationally just leave it alone. On this one, just let it continue to flourish. If there are little problems here and there, deal with those problems, but the larger frame, just let it go. I think the next generation will look back and praise us for having the foresight of handling the problems as they come up and dealing with them in a targeted and discrete way instead of coming up with some sort of grand regulatory scheme on something that’s just moving so fast.

Dave Faulkner, director of Climate Associates, Ltd, UK: I think it is that it works within the power limitations that it’s got today. So it doesn’t put more demand on the energy resources of the world. It’s got around 2 percent right now and it would be good if it doesn’t increase. If we could find a way of running the future network on non-fossil fuel derived energy.

Peng Hwa Ang, director, Singapore Internet Research Centre, Nanyang Technological University, longtime Internet governance leader: I’m in Singapore so we want it faster and cheaper. We want it to be used for more productive uses other than gaming. I still don’t understand Facebook, I don’t understand FourSquare, I don’t understand how it is useful, but there is a way to use it for better social development and better company development.

Nurani Nimpuno, policy leader with NetNod, Sweden, advisor to Internet Governance Forum: Well two things, my hope is that the Internet will continue to grow. It will be not only the “Internet of Things,” that we will connect more and more devices to the Internet, but more and more parts of the world will be connected to the Internet. So bridging that digital divide and building capacity in parts of the world where they don’t have it at the moment, that is my hope. It will be more open, I’m hoping, in that more people will be able to access it. But as more people access it and there are more services provided through the Internet, of course, you have the issue of privacy and security, and those are things that need to evolve as the Internet evolves.

Juan Carlos Solines Moreno, Solines & Associates, Ecuador: My greatest hope is that we can control the evil that is around the Internet that is affecting children and other reasons that is still imposing barriers for access. I dream that we will be able to overcome these negative aspects. I also expect that it is going to be more democratic and the whole world will have access. I also hope that more relevant and useful content will be on the Internet.

Unfortunately, right now, language is a barrier and local content is not often available, particularly relevant content for production from every culture, for industry from every country in native languages. So I think that this is a huge challenge also for different reasons. So I hope that the Internet keeps functioning from a technical perspective, that it functions well, that barriers are overcome, problems are overcome and solved and that more people are able to enjoy it.

Carla Wetherell, youth IGF representative from the UK: More people will be able to get online and especially like blind people and people who can’t really use it as well as people who don’t have a disability.

Indre Sabaliunaite, an intern for the European Parliament: Of course so that wherever you go you could have wireless access. Because, I think right now, in developed countries like we’re here and then the US and Western Europe you can go to whatever Internet site that you want but you also want to have security going into it because you never know what is actually going to be on there. There might be a virus or something because that has happened to me and I’ve spent hours cleaning off my computer. So that’s really important to make that the Internet can register any threats or viruses that might be coming from a source, and also that more buildings, and more streets, more apartment blocks have Internet access, wireless Internet access. Right now it’s not that expensive to have Internet. Hopefully it will get even cheaper because it’s becoming such a global thing.

Cristos Velasco, founder and director general of NACPEC, Mexico: My hope for the future is that governments will start to create more services in regards to privacy and data protection especially in times of cloud computing. Because, it has been discussed in various workshops and especially in the main security and privacy sessions, there are many challenges and one of those challenges is to protect the security and privatization and the confidentiality of the information that is stored in servers, located in the cloud.

Hechmi Mahjoub, a lawyer based in Tunisia: For the future of the world the Internet means life. All will be directed by the Internet. Light, air, music. All will be directed by it.

Andrew Mack, founder, AMGlobal Consulting, US: My biggest hope for the Internet is that we can use the real and true power of the technology to solve real problems. For example, in healthcare, significant problems that need to be solved. Logistics and, disaster relief is a perfect example. But also on a very human basis that my kid gets to enjoy the Internet with the whole world and not just with the part of the world that we now know.

Alissa Morvan, ChildNet, UK: I hope it’s more open, and, in a way, more secure so that you can keep your files safe and everything on the Internet.

Julia Mortyakova, The Right to Research Coalition, US: I hope that everyone has access to it, I hope that everyone uses it, and I hope that it’s used to benefit society, and to promote compassion and to promote friendships.

Pablo Molina, associate VP of IT and Campus CIO at Georgetown University, US: My hope for the future of the Internet is something that is really impossible. I hope for an Internet that is free, but at the same time allows for people to make money because we want economic growth and for businesses to flourish. I want Internet that is absolutely open for creativity and publishing content, and yet absolutely safe in protecting privacy. I want an Internet where everyone is educated to take advantage of the information that is available. These things, however, are just a utopia, but it is good to think big because maybe we won’t get them in 10 years but maybe we will in 20.

Charles Gaye, VP of Liberia Chapter of Internet Society, Liberia: My greatest hope for the future of the Internet is that the Internet should continue to be free, let it just be free as it is now so that no one can have ownership of the Internet, or restrict the evolution of it.

Andrey Shcherbovich, Moscow State University Higher Economics: Make it safer. To make Internet, kind of, a friendly space for people, even for children, for everyone. Without cybercrimes and other crimes. Of course we need to find a balance between freedom of expression and information accessibility and security.

Mindaugas Glodas, Microsoft Country Manager, Lithuania: I hope that one day people will maybe even forget this word Internet. It will just be used. You won’t be able to imagine your life without Internet and since it is all around you will just become part of it in one way or the other. I don’t want to over exaggerate. I am not a digital native, myself. I am not that old, but probably already old enough or too old to be a very active Facebook or Twitter participant, but I like it, I like the way it develops and when I look at really younger generations I think that is where the future is.

Tracy Hackshaw, Internet Society ambassador, Trinidad & Tobago: For me the Internet shall change everything, and I have a particular issue with the Internet being, well there are two fronts. One, with Google’s approach to the Internet I do think we shall be moving toward Internet that is truly free even down to the equipment level, running the OS and the browser and pushing it toward the cloud and software as a service and hopefully it will be more free. On the other hand, Internet should often be used for integration. In my region, the Caribbean region, we are fragmented in a serious way by language in some cases, by culture in other cases, and by geography The Internet provides us with the opportunity to truly connect, and communicate and integrate, perhaps. I would like for the Caribbean region to prove itself as a true integrator. So the future for me I see it as changing that. And in our case there is one Caribbean and we don’t squabble among each other. We will have one voice.

Vasil Pefev, telerik.com, Bulgaria: I really that the Internet will become free, just like I said. It should be pretty much like radio where we just buy a device in order to get access to it. There are a few programs already in Europe which make this happen, but the infrastructure still needs to be hooked up. Of course if you need a wider connection or maybe a faster speed you have to pay for it, but, then again, if you need information the Internet will provide a connection.

Henry Judy, counsel, K&L Gates, US: I think that it’s possible with the way the Internet is now structured, particularly, from the standpoint of the TCP/IP protocol that it will no longer be viable. That you are going to need new protocols. You are going to need new ways of transferring data. The software that underpins the Internet is going to have to change. It’s going to have to have security built into it more deeply on the fundamental software level, instead of encrypting the carrier of the data, it will encrypt the data itself. It may seem odd to have a hope in an underlying technology rather than some global, wonderful goal, but I think that the next real revolution is going to be on the technological level.

Sean Ang, Southeast Asia Center for E-Media, Malaysia: One day there will be fast Internet that is free for everyone in the world. Of course it needs to be democratic so people can express freely. It is also sort of neat to check on people who will use the Internet to challenge the democratic institutions like terrorism, and racist groups and so on.

Dmitry Kohmanyuk, Country Code Top-Level Domain, Ukraine: My biggest hope would be that the Internet would never be used to do harm. It would never be a war field, it would never be means to develop a weapon, or the means to start or continue a war either explicitly or implicitly, including espionage and other things. So I hope that Internet will help people keep their morals high and their channels open while maintaining their privacy and security.

– Interviews were conducted by Samantha Baranowski, Kirsten Bennett and Drew Smith, researchers from Elon University’s School of Communications, under the supervision of Glenn Scott, associate professor, and Janna Anderson, associate professor and director of the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon. 

– The transcript of these video interviews was prepared by Lindsay Fendt,
a student researcher with the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University

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