Elon University

The 2004 Survey

22 links lead to over a thousand prescient statements

2004 Survey Report Cover How will the internet change our lives between 2004 and 2014? A survey of 1,286 network-technology stakeholders conducted by Elon University and the Pew Internet Project in the fall of 2004 harvested thousands of projections of what’s to come in the next decade. Participants included people from Internet2, Microsoft, Oracle, RAND, AOL, IBM, the FBI, the FCC; Stanford, the University of California at Berkeley, Harvard, and many other top universities; the Mayo Clinic, SBC, AT&T, Gartner, Jupitermedia and hundreds of other entities. Participating respondents included people from France, Australia, Japan, Canada, Nigeria and around the world. Nearly half of the respondents began using the Internet prior to 1993, including about 6 percent who began using it in 1982 or earlier, and 38 percent who began using it sometime between 1983 and 1992. Survey questions were asked in a web-based instrument that was sent to specific Internet stakeholders who were also asked to share the survey with friends. Respondents were asked to react to 18 thought-provoking questions or statements. This page of the Imagining the Internet Predictions Database includes 22 links to a variety of detailed information tied to the 2004 study.

To get a brief look at the results, click here for a PDF of the official Pew Internet & American Life report on the 2004 Predictions Survey. Much more detailed responses are available on this site at the links below.

The Future of the Internet Book CoverThe Book:“Up for Grabs: The Future of the Internet I” is a book-length version of the survey data, now available from Cambria Press. Its 436 pages include an expanded look at the survey data and a comprehensive set of expert responses on all of the cutting questions addressed in this study.

Free online – 21 more links: To read supplemental information not contained in the official report – including a large selection of the hundreds of fascinating written responses by Internet stakeholders to each of the survey questions/statements – look at the listing below, and click on each topic of interest to you. Included are biographies of some respondents and an explanatory background for the wording of the survey questions.

An overview of the future – Respondents were asked to answer the following question: In the next decade, which institutions and human endeavors will change the most because of the internet? Tell us how you see the future unfolding.

Prediction on social networks- Respondents shared their reactions to the following statement: By 2014, use of the Internet will increase the size of peoples’ social networks far beyond what has traditionally been the case. This will enhance trust in society, as people have a wider range of sources from which to discover and verify information about job opportunities, personal services, common interests and products.

Prediction on attacks on network infrastructure – Respondents shared their reactions to the following statement: At least one devastating attack will occur in the next 10 years on the networked information infrastructure or the country’s power grid.

Prediction on digital products- Respondents shared their reactions to the following statement: In 2014, it will still be the case that the vast majority of internet users will easily be able to copy and distribute digital products freely through anonymous peer-to-peer networks.

Prediction on civic engagement- Respondents shared their reactions to the following statement: Civic involvement will increase substantially in the next 10 years, thanks to ever-growing use of the Internet. That would include membership in groups of all kinds, including professional, social, sports, political and religious organizations – and perhaps even bowling leagues.

Prediction on embedded networks – Respondents shared their reactions to the following statement: As computing devices become embedded in everything from clothes to appliances to cars to phones, these networked devices will allow greater surveillance by governments and businesses. By 2014, there will be increasing numbers of arrests based on this kind of surveillance by democratic governments as well as by authoritarian regimes.

Prediction on formal education- Respondents shared their reactions to the following statement: Enabled by information technologies, the pace of learning in the next decade will increasingly be set by student choices. In ten years, most students will spend at least part of their “school days” in virtual classes, grouped online with others who share their interests, mastery, and skills.

Prediction on democratic processes- Respondents shared their reactions to the following statement: By 2014, network security concerns will be solved and more than half of American votes will be cast online, resulting in increased voter turnout.

Prediction on families – Respondents shared their reactions to the following statement: By 2014, as telework and homeschooling expand, the boundaries between work and leisure will diminish significantly. This will sharply alter everyday family dynamics.

Prediction on the rise of extreme communities – Respondents shared their reactions to the following statement: Groups of zealots in politics, in religion, and in groups advocating violence will solidify, and their numbers will increase by 2014 as tight personal networks flourish online.

Prediction on politics – Respondents shared their reactions to the following statement: By 2014, most people will use the Internet in a way that filters out information that challenges their viewpoints on political and social issues. This will further polarize political discourse and make it difficult or impossible to develop meaningful consensus on public problems.

Prediction on health system change – Respondents shared their reactions to the following statement: In 10 years, the increasing use of online medical resources will yield substantial improvement in many of the pervasive problems now facing healthcare – including rising healthcare costs, poor customer service, the high prevalence of medical mistakes, malpractice concerns, and lack of access to medical care for many Americans.

Prediction on personal entertainment and media environment – Respondents shared their reactions to the following statement: By 2014, all media, including audio, video, print, and voice, will stream in and out of the home or office via the Internet. Computers that coordinate and control video games, audio, and video will become the centerpiece of the living room and will link to networked devices around the household, replacing the television’s central place in the home.

Prediction on creativity – Respondents shared their reactions to the following statement: Pervasive high-speed information networks will usher in an age of creativity in which people use the Internet to collaborate with others and take advantage of digital libraries to make more music, art, and literature. A large body of independently produced creative works will be freely circulated online and will command widespread attention from the public.

Prediction about how people go online – Respondents shared their reactions to the following statement: By 2014, 90% of all Americans will go online from home via high-speed networks that are dramatically faster than today’s high-speed networks.

Looking back: How the Internet has fallen short- Respondents answered this question: Thinking back to your views a decade ago, where has the use or impact of the Internet fallen short of your expectations?

Looking back: Fastest impacts– Respondents answered this question: What Internet impacts have been felt more quickly than you expected?

Looking to the future- Respondents answered these questions: What are you anxious to see happen? What is your dream application, or where would you hope to see the most path-breaking developments in the next decade?

Use this link to read the news release about the 2004 Predictions Survey.

Use this link to read a backstory relating to how the questions were formulated.

Use this link to read brief biographies of some of the survey respondents.