Elon University

The 2008 Survey: Scenario Two – The Internet and the Evolution of Social Tolerance

Responses to this 2020 scenario were assembled from Internet stakeholders in the2008 Pew Internet & American Life/Elon University Predictions Survey. Participants were encouraged to provide a written elaboration to explain their answers. We share some—not all—of the responses here. Workplaces of respondents who shared their identity are attributed only for the purpose of indicating a level of expertise; statements reflect personal views. If you would like to participate in the next survey, mail andersj [at] elon dotedu; include information on your expertise.

Survey Internet ArtPrediction: Social tolerance has advanced significantly due in great part to the Internet. In 2020, people are more tolerant than they are today, thanks to wider exposure to others and their views that has been brought about by the Internet and other information and communication technologies. The greater tolerance shows up in several metrics, including declining levels of violence, lower levels of sectarian strife, and reduced incidence of overt acts of bigotry and hate crimes.

Compiled reactions from the 1,196 respondents:
33% Mostly agreed
55% Mostly disagreed
11% Did not respond

Expert respondents’ reactions (N=578):
32% Mostly agreed
56% Mostly disagreed
13% Did not respond

Overview of Respondents’ Reactions
A majority mostly disagreed with the proposed future. Most say while there is no doubt the Internet is expanding the potential for people to come to a better understanding of one another it also expands the potential for bigotry, hate, and terrorism, thus tolerance will not see net gains. Still, about a third mostly agreed with the premise, optimistic that gains will be made, while adding the qualifier that negative agendas will always also be well-served by advances in communications technologies.

Below are select responses from survey participants who agreed to be identified with their statements. This is not the full extent of responses. To see more, read the report PDF, and to read reactions from anonymous participants responding to this question, please click here.

This “tolerance” will be mostly fake tolerance, necessary to be integrated to the community…Underground networks will (and already) exist where people join anonymously, and the level of social tolerance yielded will be close to zero. Alexandre Winter, co-founder and chief executive officer, LTU Technologies, a global leader in image search and recognition technologies

Tolerance seems to rise and fall, in part in response to critical events; so it seems unlikely that “tolerance” will reduce violence and strife, although by chance 2020 might be a moment in which some public figure captures global attention and distracts us for a bit. Oscar Gandy, author, activist, retired emeritus professor of communication, University of Pennsylvania

The real change agent for social tolerance is the massive social engineering programs that are pushing how people are taught to perceive. That may change as our social needs change. I suspect social tolerance may be a temporary fashion like an avocado refrigerator. At that time, we may need something different like, “the ability to do complete work.” –Dick Davies, partner, Project Management and Control Inc.; past president of the Association of Information Technology Professionals

I think this is a “risk area.” Right now, I see more danger of further siloing and confirmation of our isolated thinking than an opening up to other ideas. Lawrence Swiader, chief information officer, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

It may be exactly the opposite. Young people accept each other when spending time together—whether because of court order or economic advantage. This may explain somewhat why the traditional elite schools also are the most integrated and diverse ones. Michael Botein, professor of law and founding director of the Media Center at New York University Law School; consultant to the FCC

Five years ago I would have agreed that technology would encourage greater tolerance. I now think that un-intermediated, personal, face-to-face contact, focused on a common goal of some kind, still is needed to break down these barriers. Otherwise “the other” remains strange and feared. Susan Crawford, founder of OneWebDay, celebrated each Sept. 22; ICANN board member; associate professor, Cardozo Law School; visiting professor, Yale Law School

Peer-to-peer network communications (whether Internet or anything else) can readily serve as mechanisms for intolerance, as has been ably demonstrated. Arguably mass television media may help enhance social tolerance. –Anthony M. Rutkowski, co-founder of the Internet Society and a founding trustee; longtime leader in International Telecommunication Union; vice president for regulatory affairs, VeriSign

Can anybody reading this actually bet anything meaningful on declining violence, sectarian strife, bigotry, and hate? Whatever the growth of the Internet has done, it certainly hasn’t solved these age-old problems. Howard Rheingold, Internet sociologist and author; one of the first to illuminate virtual communities; author of “Virtual Reality,” “Smart Mobs,” and “Virtual Community”

As much as I wish this scenario were true, I’m afraid that it will take a lot more than mere technology to tame human nature. The base instincts that cause violence, sectarian strife and hate crimes are based on a fundamental “fear of the other,” which is deeply rooted and will take generations to curb through widespread educational programs, reinforced by daily practice, peer pressure, and law enforcement. There may be some progress towards social tolerance by 2020, but the significant advances described by this scenario strike me as wishful thinking. At best, we may see very limited progress in highly developed and affluent societies. Fabrice Florin, executive director, NewsTrust.net, a nonprofit social news network that allows people to rate the news on quality

Let’s not overstate the importance of media and communication. The Internet will not change human nature. We know from the twenty or so years of online culture that conflicts are rather accelerated. The Internet is not an ideal platform for tolerance and conflict resolution. There is a lot of distortion on the line. The critical point here is the real-time nature of online communication, which prevents people from reflecting on what they do. Geert Lovink, professor and expert on culture, sociology and the Internet; based in Amsterdam; author of “Dark Fiber” and “Uncanny Networks”; responsible for the Institute of Network Cultures

Tolerance is a personal decision. My personal experience has been that the more insular or small the community the more gossip, or judgment. A worldwide community should lead to more acceptance of diversity and recognition that on key human issues we are more the same than different, and that the differences for 90+ percent of people just are not that big a deal. –Ed Lyell, professor of business and economics, Adams State College, Regis University, San Luis Valley Board of Educational Services; pioneer in issues regarding Internet and education

Our natural inclinations are to become more tolerant when we learn more about others. Especially, if the world grows more prosperous. Note also that most of our myths—movies and such—preach messages of tolerance and admiration of eccentricity. David Brin, futurist and author whose 1998 non-fiction book “The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?” identified key issues of concern

Oh please, you’re killing me. Exposure to other cultures, people and ideas has increased in the 20th century, but the Internet is hardly the root of it, just an extension of it. Next you’ll say that Silicon Valley invented the Internet. Tom Jennings, University of California-Irvine, creator of FidoNet, the first message and file networking system online; builder of Wired magazine’s first online presence

Bandwidth probably increases intolerance in people over 25 but increases tolerance in people under 25. By 2020 the proportion of people who grew up in a high-bandwidth world will be sufficient to push world culture in the direction described. Fred Hapgood, technology author and consultant; freelance writer in technology and science; in the 1990s, he took on the role of moderator of the Nanosystems Interest Group at MIT

I wish I saw an increasing level of tolerance coming about because of the Internet, but I believe it’s just the opposite. Individuals are able to seek out communities that bolster their own limited viewpoints—and ignore the larger world or anything that runs counter. –Dian Schaffhauser, writer and editor for CampusTechnology.com, THEJournal.com, Redmond Magazine, Computerworld, and Web Worker Daily; founder of Sourcingmag.com

This is highly related to the [first scenario]. Unless substantial accountability mechanisms are created, cowards will continue to be encouraged and empowered by the anonymity that the Internet provides. This is not necessarily the best way to develop the Internet. Creating accountability at the cost of all other attributes would destroy the Internet. Starting small—fixing e-mail for instance: getting rid of spammers by authenticating e-mail senders, might be a great place to start. Without these basic measures in place, I don’t believe that the Internet will help tolerance overcome bigotry. Ross Rader, director of retail services, Tucows Inc.; works with ICANN in the Registrars Constituency, part of the GNSO (Generic Names Supporting Organization)

In spite of advances in communications over the previous three centuries, the levels of crime and violence have not decreased, merely changed form.Adrian Schofield, manager of the applied research unit, Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering, South Africa; leader in the World Information Technology and Services Alliance

I don’t think the ambient level of tolerance in any given society has much direct correlation with the Internet. Milton Mueller, professor, Syracuse University and Technology University of Delft; expert on Internet governance, technology policy; active in ICANN’s Non-Commercial User’s Constituency

My sense is that online (as well as offline) people generally gather with those like themselves rather than seek out new people and new opinions, so I don’t expect there to be wider exposure to others and their views. Steve Jones, professor of communication and associate dean of liberal arts and sciences, University of Illinois-Chicago, co-founder of Association of Internet Researchers

The Internet has enabled people 25 and under to gain self-knowledge about challenging personal issues such as sexuality, ethics, morals, and values at a much earlier age by exposing them to—and connecting them with—a broader community of both peers and experienced adults. This self knowledge, in turn, leads, for most, to the greater social tolerance described here…but it also polarizes to the edges, supporting hate speech and bullying among more narrow segments. Susan Mernit, independent consultant and former senior director for product development, Yahoo!; blogger; previously a vice president at America Online

Amnesty International UK. From an international perspective it’s difficult to agree or disagree—different trends are being witnessed at the same time. On the one hand the Internet is creating a huge space for freedom of speech, assembly, and association. It has given people a means with which to change society and culture. That is positive. But the fear this has sparked has lead to crackdowns and attempts to exert more control on the part of governments and companies. In some parts of the world, there is great tension between the Internet as a progressive force and as a means of better social control. I imagine that the Internet will continue to be a battleground until 2020, and who ultimately “wins” will depend on how the Internet is developed and who exerts ultimate control over it. Nick Dearden, campaigns manager, Amnesty International, the human-rights organization

My sense is that the wide diversity of views online allows people to find their niche and protect their own views, rather than learn and grow as a person from exposure to others. My thinking follows that of Cass Sunstein, who wrote in Republic.com that the Internet might dramatically increase the possibilities for people to hear “echoes of their own voices and to wall themselves off from others.” While the rise of personal blogs and the opening up of news articles for reader comments has helped bring multiple voices into play, I fear most still feel most comfortable listening to the voices they agree with. –Michael Zimmer, Ph.D. and resident fellow at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School; research includes social and cultural dimensions of new information technologies 

Alternatively, increased personalization, increased capabilities to engage with geographically dispersed communities of interest, etc., actually lead to a turn inward. We find those with views similar to our own, wherever they may be, and only communicate with them. Our contact with those who are different declines, and we no longer even have access to the ‘different’ views of mainstream media news outlets.–Paul Miller, technology evangelist on the senior management team at Talis, a company delivering human-centric Web applications, based in Birmingham, UK; a blogger for ZDNet

Very strongly disagree with this one. If anything, what Cass Sunstein called “The Daily Me” captures the very strong tendency to exploit CMC technologies to largely find and reinforce agreement with one’s own views, prejudices, etc., rather than to seek out strongly different views. The same goes, unfortunately, with regard to culture. At the risk of oversimplifying, especially the consumer/commodification orientation of the Net fosters a kind of consumer self-interest—one that requires us to make everything “Other” easily comprehensible and consumable (sometimes literally): this means, however, stripping away from “the Other” everything that defines it precisely as radically different. This means, in turn, that, in the absence of careful teaching and structured experiences, the default setting of Internet use is not to encounter the Other as Other, and thereby come to learn genuine tolerance and understanding for radical difference.  On the contrary, as the Net allows me to more and more surround myself with “the daily me”—I am required less and less to be tolerant of difference.  So my dismal prediction (hope I’m wrong) is that, again, with some exceptions at the margins, mainstream uses of the Internet will foster less, not more, tolerance and understanding across radical cultural differences. –Charles Ess, a professor of philosophy and religion and researcher on online culture and ethics, Drury University (Springfield, MO), and active leader of the Association of Internet Researchers

Yes, there is more tolerance at some levels, but I am not optimistic about a decline in sectarian strife. David W. Maher, senior vice president for law and policy, the Public Interest Registry, the Internet top-level domain registry; formerly vice president of public policy for the Internet Society

Yet the ability to be part of segregated communities by being less isolated geographically will be even greater, so cultural or other identification could enable greater divisiveness. –John C. Abell, new media project director, Committee of Concerned Journalists

The Internet will be an enlightening tool to introduce people to different cultures and traditions, but mainly teach how to be more tolerant and accept people from other origins the way they are! Hanane Boujemi, ICT researcher for DiploFoundation, working on educating people about Internet policy and Internet governance, Malta

I hope social tolerance will improve. I see more positive changes with the Millennial Generation, now age 6 to 26. Janet D. Cohen, blogger, futurist and trend analyst

Greater levels of personal and societal information and transparency may just make it easier to discriminate. –Scott Smith, principal, Changeist LLC; consultant, writer, and futurist; formerly with Yankee Group, Current Analysis, and Jupiter Communications; expert on global influence of technology

Although some still engage in scapegoating, more people now see humanity as all being “in the same boat” under the challenges of climate change, peak oil, and economic collapse. Cliff Figallo, social innovator and original member of the first online community – The WELL, now of AdaptLocal.org; expert in fitting and implementing social Web applications to groups

Most conflicts come from myopic perceptions that do not see the other side of the coin. With the Internet (thanks to social networks, tourism Web sites, blogs, and YouTube), more people have access to information about other (including opposing) views and cultures. Tolerance will be on the rise, and more people will break beyond myopia by seeing the parts of the world they are unable to visit physically through online opportunities.  At least many people now know that Africa is not a country.  :) Gbenga Sesan, Internet for development consultant, Paradigm Initiative, Nigeria; his work is tied to the use of ICT’s in socioeconomic transformation, focusing on underserved groups

I mostly agree, as a matter of my optimism and idealism, but would be careful to treat the Internet as a unifying cultural influence towards tolerance—current studies (Putnam, boyd, et. al.) show that the Internet can result in online communities with less diversity and tolerance than offline. Michele Perras, artist, consultant, researcher and futurist with Interactive Ontario

I totally agree with this. I also predict that “shock” sites such as rotten.com and the more extreme porn sites will see traffic slack way off as they become just one more part of the enormous library of humanity. Violence, bigotry and hate crimes often stem from individuals who are disconnected and marginalized. In a world of near-perfect interconnectedness and transparency, these things decrease. Josh Quittner, executive editor, Fortune Magazine; formerly editor of Business 2.0, Time.com, and technology editor of Time magazine; also formerly at Newsday; freelancer for Wired magazine

“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. When our linkages are beyond the family, beyond the tribe, beyond the nation-state, our peer-to-peer relations will trump the hierarchies who have brought us war after war that we do not want. –Hamish MacEwan, consultant, Open ICT, New Zealand

This is very true. Though the Internet allows intolerance to be broadcast more easily, it also allows it to be argued against in a more public forum. –Megan Holbrook, partner, Kapow Inc., a site-design and development company; she has produced projects for Microsoft, Warner Bros. and Disney

I mostly agree that social tolerance has advanced significantly, but I really don’t think that the Internet will be the greatest cause.  It more likely due to—again—inevitable cultural shifts brought about by demographic changes bubbling through neighborhoods, educational institutions, commerce, and community affairs.  Also, it looks like we are headed for hard economic times in the country that may extend well into the period leading up to 2020, and facing that as a nation may well bring us together, provided we get past the scapegoating of “the others.” Peter Eckart, director of health information technology, Illinois Public Health Institute

Social tolerance will be reduced in some societies but will not be fully achieved in many others.  The diversity of cultures and religions as well as social and political problems will remain no matter how developed the Internet is in 2020. Cristos Velasco, director general of North American Consumer Project on E-Commerce; Mexico-based attorney and active in the Internet Governance Forum and Internet Society

Wider exposure of views to others is not, in and of itself, going to bring about social tolerance.  If social tolerance is advanced in 2020, it might be aided by information and communication technologies, but the reduction of violence, sectarian strife, bigotry, etc. is more closely linked to belief systems, perception of well-being, and reduction in perceived inequality or victimization. –Rich Miller, chief executive officer, Replicate Technologies Inc.; an Internet pioneer with ARPAnet who implemented some of the first computer messaging and conferencing systems

This scenario has no basis in current trends thus it is unlikely to eventuate- there are major value shifts in society that affect these type of metrics that are independent of the proliferation of ICT–Robin Gunston, consulting futurist for Mariri Consulting, a strategic and business planning company

I wish this was true, but there are just way too many places in the world where people are suffering due to various bases of social discrimination such as sex, race, political alliances, etc. all around power, who has it and who abuses it. There will be more information and communication technologies online in the future and people will become enlightened by others through time, but changing the way people fight in countries around the world will not necessarily have a correlation in terms of impact to wider exposure to others and their views. Hate crimes are deeply imbedded in the pathologies of people’s minds and ways of behaving, often separate from the influence of the technologies online. These technologies could play a role in changing people before they produce hate crimes, but I don’t believe greater tolerance will show up via a relationship to communication technology usage online. Joanna Sharpe, senior marketing manager, Microsoft

The television and telegraph were each once hailed as a technology that would bring global peace. Marx suggested the railway would bring about the communist utopia. Some ancient thinker no doubt suggested a similar idea about the smoke signal. Charles Kenny, senior economist for the World Bank; expert on technology and economics and author of many reports, including “ICT: Promises, Opportunities and Dangers for the Rural Future”

The Internet is actually collapsing the size of the group one interacts with, so if this trend continues we’ll see more polarization rather than tolerance. This will due to the diminishing exposure to alternative ideas and concepts. Bernardo Huberman, senior fellow and director of the Social Computing Lab, HP Laboratories; consulting professor in the Department of Applied Physics at Stanford University

Learning more about people of other cultures usually does create feelings of acceptance. I hope you’re right. –Janie Graziani, manager of new media and technology for the American Automobile Association

I actually believe this is true, based on my experience with the Internet, but that may be partly a wishful feeling. Richard Hall, professor of information science and technology and co-director of the Laboratory for Information Technology Evaluation, Missouri University of Science and Technology

People are people and just won’t change that much, especially in so short a period of time. The Internet can breed intolerance and spread lies in the same way that it can breed understanding and spread knowledge. Jeremy Swinfen Green, Telecom Express, an interactive marketing company

Looking at just recent history I think you can safely say that communication has raised the bar in the social tolerance arena.  Just 100 years ago women could not vote and that would be unthinkable today—civil rights legislation is only 50 years old—etc. The power of the Internet to change public opinion and social norms can only speed up this process as it becomes more and more ubiquitous in our society. Christian Ferris, associate director of career advising at Washington University

I’d really like to believe this, but the strife described here is largely brought about by resource, rather than knowledge, inequalities. If you add domestic, open-source nanotech fabrication into the mix, then I’d sway more in the “agree” direction. –Jeremy Yuille, digital media coordinator at RMIT Communication Design and program manager at ACID in Melbourne, Australia; previously director at IXDA, the Interaction Design Association

I think that tolerance will be more prevalent, but not that it will have much to do with the Internet. Julian Hopkins, social scientist and Ph.D. candidate at Monash University, Malaysia

The Internet is the left wing’s form of talk-back radio. Christine Satchell, Ph.D., senior researcher, Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation, Queensland University of Technology

I disagree. Online, people will connect with others like themselves and can choose not to be exposed to dissimilar others if they don’t want to—there will be no great change in either direction in terms of social tolerance. –Jade Miller, Ph.D. student Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, with a research focus on global flows of information and culture

Actually I wanted to put ‘indifferent’ instead of mostly agree/disagree. The scenario is too technologically deterministic.  Whilst declines in the levels of violence, criminal activity, and sectarian strife will be positive steps forward by 2020, these will not be ‘because of the Internet.’  Moreover, these rates are likely to fluctuate as technologies account for ‘new’ incidence of criminal behavior that are not yet possible in 2007.  However, in terms of building communities and a sense of togetherness, new social media—that includes the Internet—will represent the most popular point of access for people to communicate across. Maz Hardey, social analyst, blogger, “defender of new media” completing a doctorate funded by the Economic Social Research Council in the UK, based at the University of York

The Internet will help, but fundamentalist groups use the Internet for their needs today as well and they will continue doing so in the future. –Iddo Genuth, founder and chief editor of The Future of Things, a science and technology e-magazine

No. While I don’t think WW3 is imminent; I think the net will allow like-minded individuals to gather, and to emphasize the difference. While it’s not in the least related, climate change could well lead to water/food shortages especially in the majority world, and that could well have a major impact on things like tolerance of others etc. I’d like to think that the current levels of Islamophobia will have declined, but… –Emma Duke-Williams, lecturer in the School of Computing and researcher, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom; education blogger

The Internet and the Web together democratize the flow of information. This has many consequences, including much fairly useless information being circulated, but also it makes it much harder to create walled-off knowledge.  Extremist groups can use the same technologies to promote their ideologies very effectively, but, on balance, free flowing information does lead to more tolerance. –Micheál Ó Foghlú, Research Director, Telecommunications Software & Systems Group, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland advisory committee; member of W3C; blogger

Although I agree in the most part that a greater tolerance for behavior may be present, I feel that there more identities merge, the more they separate. Sameness often leads to a romanticism of individuality and more specific identity. As the philosophers Deleuze and Guattari said: ‘smooth space is being constantly translated, transversed into striated space; striated space is always being reversed, returned into smooth space.’ (Deleuze & Guattari,1987:474, “A Thousand Plateaus”). –Amit Kelkar, consultant and sociology researcher, Postmodern

This really could go either way. A lot depends on what happens with other aspects of society in the next few years. Robert J. Berger, CTO for Cinch; expert on backbone networks, access networks, wireless networks, and innovative Web applications, a frequent speaker on Next-Generation Networks

There is no evidence whatsoever that more communication makes people more tolerant. On the contrary, many people pick and choose from the wide menu of the Internet the particular content that reinforce their prejudices. The facility to form groups is used to associate with people “like me” more often than for discovering new horizons. Christian Huitema, distinguished engineer, Microsoft Corporation, pioneering Internet engineer (on the Internet Architecture Board 1991-96; Internet Society leader 1995-2001).

Well I would LIKE this scenario, but it looks like wishful thinking. Unfortunately current trends are in the opposite direction. What I see happening is an increase of entropy, with both tolerance and intolerance rising simultaneously. –Giulio Prisco, chief executive officer of Metafuturing Second Life; formerly department head at the European Satellite Centre, analyst at European Space Agency, and an IT specialist for CERN

This one’s hard to call, because so many people seem to be closing themselves away in gated communities, real and virtual. Yet any small chink in that armor allows all sorts of things to pour through. The many places that people interact online allow very different people to get to know one another as friends before discovering they are supposed to be enemies. This leads to more tolerance. –Jerry Michalski, founder and president, Sociate, a technology consulting firm; formerly managing editor of Release 1.0, Esther Dyson’s newsletter and co-host of the annual PC Forum

My positive answer is a wishful thinking. I hope the Internet can promote and enhance acceptance to cultural diversity. –Gilda Olinto, researcher, Brazilian Institute for Information in Science and Technology

Human nature will NOT change significantly in 13 years, regardless of the cause. –Rollie Cole, director of technology policy, Sagamore Institute for Policy Research, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank headquartered in Indianapolis, IN

A greater exposure to others and their views may incite a greater social tolerance, but I do not agree that this can be taken to mean people will become more accepting of the views of others. This will only open the way for a greater degeneration of society in which nothing is surprising and indifference is dominant. Sam Ozay, e-learning and e-communication specialist and solutions architect at Postmodern (Asia/Pacific); formerly general manager at European Language Centre

Mostly agree, but I’d add an indirect path—Internet-based communication facilitates trade and trade reduces war and sectarian violence. Brough Turner, chief technology officer and co-founder of NMS Communications; oversees evolution of technology and product architectures

People will be accustomed to share opinions and discuss in an open and free way even if some minority of fanatics won’t accept this fact, and they will still try to defend their ideas in intolerant way. –Rafik Dammak, software engineer, STMicroelectronics, Tunisia; DiploFoundation participant in the study of Internet

The net makes it much easier to retreat into a world where the only people you talk to are people who think just like you do. –John Levine, founder of Taughannock Networks; a leader of the Internet Research Task Force’s Anti-Spam Research Group and the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail

I’m not sure how much the Internet matters in this area, and whether it will be a positive or a negative enabler. The Internet can be used as a tool for bigotry and divisiveness as much as it may foster greater awareness and understanding of human diversity. –Greg Laudeman, utilization catalyst and facilitator, community technology specialist, Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute

“Sectarian strife” will continue at levels comparable to those in the first decade of the 21st century. The increased ability to communicate through various media—broadcast, text, IM, image—will help affinity groups recruit followers to a central, and perhaps exclusive, message. This message is just as likely to promote health and happiness as it is bigotry and subversion of external values. –C.R. Roberts, Internet journalist based in Vancouver

But the line between social tolerance and indifference is a thin one. Jim Witte, professor of sociology, Clemson University; research is focused on differences between online and offline society, including a special interest in activity in Second Life

People seem be much more likely to use the Internet to reinforce their preconceptions and to isolate themselves in an environment that does not challenge beliefs and prejudices. Tolerance arises from human contact, not Web surfing. Brian Dunbar, Internet services manager, NASA office of public affairs

Social tolerance will be achieved when it is no longer profitable for people to believe otherwise, and the Internet has nothing to do with that.Hal Widsten, general manager, KWED/Seguin Daily news, Guadalupe Media Ltd.

Education diminishes intolerance. The Internet, in a variety of ways, increases education. –Dan Bellmyer

The Internet is great, but I don’t have this much faith in its powers. This scenario seems possible on an intellectual level, but looking at humanity’s history… –Aaron Schmidt, Walking Paper Consulting, a blogger who writes about libraries, technology, and usability

Like any other technology, the Internet is and will be used for hate-mongering as well as for bringing a wider vision for tolerance. –Mark Youman, principal, ICF International, a Washington, DC, consulting-services company that works with government and commercial clients

The world is small after all! Mark Terranova, senior account manager, I Group Electronics, an electronic component distributor

People will continue to hear what they want to hear.  Today on the Internet there are relatively impartial and honest journalistic sites, but I bet Fox News, which is not balanced, gets more traffic.  I don’t expect this to change. Todd Wagner, health economist, Health Economics Resource Center, Palo Alto, part of the US Veterans Administration; also involved with the Center for Healthcare Evaluation 

While the Internet may enable the spread of tolerance, it will not be the catalyst. The Internet has, just as equally, the potential to increase intolerance.  Some other sequence of events will need to happen in our relationships with one and other in order to fundamentally change the seemingly instinctive intolerance we have today. -Chris Bell, vice president and director of worldwide marketing for iTunes, Apple

We keep hoping this will happen and it might, but not necessarily due to the influence of the Internet. Jill O’Neill, director of planning and communication, National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services; author of the Infotoday blog; based in the Philadelphia area

This will never happen. Ethnic groups elsewhere in the world (Sunni v. Shiite, Bosnian v. Serb) have been fighting for centuries and this is not likely to change, just as black v. white, etc. in the US.  The bigger problem is affluence v. poverty. The gap is growing and probably will continue to do so. What I personally would like to see is a cap on top executive earnings, based on the salary of the lowest-paid employee. For example, if the lowest-paid employee earns minimum wage—$7 or $14,000 per year—then a cap at a hefty multiplier of 200 would give the CEO $2.8 million. I suppose there could be a way around it, but if the government assesses a confiscatory tax (95 percent) on the excess, this might work. And stop giving the zillionaires deductions for their excessive homes—anything over 3,000 square feet or $1 million should not qualify. Give the poor a gasoline credit equal to 90 percent of the cost of gas so they can afford to work. Make EVERYONE who receives government assistance (handouts) work—the mothers could be trained as child care workers (which would give them better parenting skills) and have them work to provide daycare for others who have to or want to work. And no, I am NOT a Democrat. I’m a red-blooded, 60-year old, female, Jewish, Republican. I just think things ought to be fair. –Judith Siess, president of Information Bridges International Inc. and publisher and editor of the One-Person Library newsletter, author and blogger

Every indication we’ve seen of the growth of the Internet—online bulletin boards, fora, games, virtual worlds—have shown us that people grow far more intolerant as they gain more access to tools of expression and anonymity and far more aggressive and hateful. Instead, we will see more and more hate crimes and bigotry being planned and incited online and expressing themselves more in real life. –Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, Open Society Institute, Physicians for Human Rights; lecturer on humanitarian issues; formerly UN representative for International League of Human Rights

I have to believe this.  I wouldn’t be involved in technology if I didn’t want this to be the case. –Tiffany Shackelford, consultant who works with clients such as Phase 2 Technology, Stateline.org, Foneshow, WebbMedia, and Daily Me

If there is one really bright spot it is that though the ‘net can clearly coalesce communities of hate and violence, the Web can also expose people to new ideas and build tolerance. It’s not the ONLY reason this is happening, but it’s a good outcome. –Karen G. Schneider, research and development College Center for Library Automation, Tallahassee, Florida; expert and thought-leader in the library and technology community

Contradictory trends will continue to coexist. More-detailed knowledge of others will bring tolerance among those with affinities and a grouping of some of them to ever-more-viciously attack others and band against them. While the Internet is able to foster greater knowledge and respect, these don’t happen on their own. They need strong leadership and will, but also a consistency across cultures and classes that don’t seem to me able to prevail over the ever-growing levels of hate and intolerance in our societies. The build-up of tolerance is happening in groups comparatively smaller than the build-up of hate, and takes a larger moral and intellectual effort. Hate scales, goodwill does not seem to—certainly not at an equal rate. The level of invective, mistrust, and rapid radicalization of views that we see online (whether flame wars among fans of sports teams, or among partisans of political views and organizations, or among genders, ethnicities, nationalities, etc., and the abuse of others’ information and images, give pause to optimism. Alejandro Pisanty, director of computer services at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; active in leadership with Internet Society, ICANN, and the Internet Governance Forum

Will stay the same. People remain people regardless of the technologies in place. –Kathryn Greenhill, emerging technologies specialist, Murdoch University

In fact I don’t know but I hope. Sebastien Bachollet, president of the Internet Society of France, operates the European Global Event on domain Names and Address systems, known as EGENI, active participant in ICANN

I fear that this will remain a dream. The same thing was said several times in the past decades, but reality has been different. What we could say is that there will be parts of the world where social tolerance would have advanced significantly, but I can’t see the disappearance of phenomena like bigotry and hate. Roberto Gaetano, ICANN board member; also responsible for SW development for International Atomic Energy Agency; an active participant in the ICANN policy making process 

I agree 100%. The Internet is electronically joining all of the world’s people together at an amazing rate. I can’t think of anything more exciting for my children’s future than to be a part of it.–Bill Warren, vice president of government relations, Walt Disney World; founding editor of the Orlando Business Journal

I think this an extremely optimistic scenario due to the time involved, but nonetheless it’s very probable. Internet means more access to free information. –Tiago Casagrande, works with social communications and new technologies for verbeat

There will always be a new crop of social intolerance, especially as the world gets smaller. Stan Felder, president and chief executive officer, Felder Communications, a marketing and advertising firm in Grand Rapids, MI

For the most part, people will become more tolerant of others. There will be some people who will be the opposite of this though I believe because they will use the Internet to find things that support their view of the world. So when racial, religious, or other hate crimes do occur they will be more pronounced then they are now. David Newberger, founder of Blackdot Ventures and systems administrator for Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Bureau, Minnesota

I agree in the name of the rule that we always expected a better future.  Communication tools may be used to spread violence, prejudice, and so on. You need not to go to Africa to see ethnic mass killing, just look for Yugoslavia in Europe. João Miguel Rocha Filho, director, DataOne, a provider of software for connecting to Linux; based in Brazil

We are a culture that looks to violence as entertainment, and young children are exposed to violence through both the news media and prime-time programming. Many, if not most, parents seem to be unwilling or unable to monitor their children’s viewing habits or encourage a lack of television altogether. While I would heartily applaud a change in direction, I can’t see a reduction in violence, strife, bigotry, or hate crimes when the frequent presentation of violent images is still the order of the day. –Wendy Cook, Web administrator working for the State of Texas
As much as we will be able to learn about social tolerance with advances in communication and education, we will never witness declining levels of violence, lower levels of sectarian strife and reduced incidence of overt acts of bigotry and hate crimes, sadly. –Don Kasprzak, chief executive officer of Panaround.com, a Web-solutions design company; former system engineer at Apple Computer

So far this has been true. But we have not fully explored as a society potential downsides of what happens online. –Joan Connell, online editor, The Nation magazine, formerly an executive producer for MSNBC.com, senior editor for MSN and a Pulitzer finalist for her reporting

We will be more tolerant, but intolerance and its cousins: bigotry, hatred, unfair discrimination will live on. Cameron Norman, assistant professor in the department of public health sciences, the University of Toronto; actively engaged in use of the Internet to help tackle tough health issues, including work with the Centre for Global eHealth evaluation

Although greater connectivity will allow certain subversive groups to virtually congeal, the amount of information available for individuals to research will promote greater tolerance through understanding. –Peter Kim, senior analyst, Forrester Research, Boston; specializes in e-strategy and management, social marketing, blogs; recent reports include “Microblogging for Marketers”

I hope that this is the case and that we as a world will perceive intolerance as much as a negative as we do rape. Robert Eller, Concept Omega, a media marketing and communication company

The increased availability of (randomly scattered and ungraded) knowledge is no more than just that—an available variable value collection of ‘stuff.’ Knowledge results from an appropriation process that is grounded on a cultural predisposition to learn. Knowledge must be apprehended within context, and context can only be assured by others.  Using any of those anecdotal ‘average American’ studies/quizzes as an example, we very easily conclude that knowledge has very little to do with the availability of contents (in newspapers, libraries or the net). Luis Santos, Universidade do Minho—Braga, Portugal

By its nature, the Internet provides opportunities for users to find answers to their questions. Increasing open-mindedness will not happen spontaneously. More likely, specific searches will allow people to validate their current beliefs as they search for more information about their current interests. Ed Dieterle, Harvard Graduate School of Education; research tied to handheld devices for ubiquitous learning

Sadly, this likely will not become true. The presumptions needed in order for it to be true is that there be a finite number of sites that people visit, and that these sites have valid and valuable information.  The more likely scenario is that the number of such sites will be equaled by sites that post spurious information, hate-speech, and other forms of bigotry.  People will look up and gravitate toward sites that confirm their opinions more than they will seek out sites that challenge their beliefs and experiences.  This is why the role of universities will only become more important, as people will not only desire, but will in fact need, the insights of those who can study such discourse and help evaluate its cultural and communal significance and worth. John Jordan, associate professor of communications, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

The technology is neutral in terms of “tolerance” metrics. While exposure to the new and different can certainly bring about acceptance, it may also result in a rejection of the new and different, a reinforcement of current prejudices.  It’s not all ‘West Side Story’ out there, as Shakespeare knew even before Lenny Bernstein picked up the theme.Dennis Baron, professor of English and linguistics, University of Illinois, runs the Web of Language site and researches the technologies of communication

While visual media such as television and online video do much to promote tolerance (the show ‘30 Days’ is a specific attempt at this), I disagree that the effects will be as pronounced as in the prediction. While I have high hopes for advancements in realism made in human interaction via a virtual medium, I believe that even by 2020, the most impressive of those advancements will have just been made, if at all, and will still be going through an adoption period in which much misuse, due to perceived anonymity online, occurs. Some experiments in Second Life have already shown that racial bigotry not only occurs in virtual worlds, but under some circumstances becomes even more pronounced. The most important technological advancements that can be made to increase tolerance are those that increase the number of opportunities for:—a) recurring interactions with people from different cultures.—b) immersion within a different culture. Therefore, technological advancements that increase opportunities for foreign travel, that place people from different cultures in a position of repeated interaction(such as international offices or organizations made possible by advanced communications), or that increase exposure to different cultures during early childhood education, will have a much greater effect than advances made in broadcast or recreational communications. –Jay Neely, social strategist in the process of founding News Armada, a Boston-based company working to advance Internet-based news and commentary and community online

If anything, the Internet seems far more effective at helping political fragmentation, rather than cohesion. The Internet is a medium of small groups with narrow interests, not large ones with broadly shared concerns. Anthony Townsend, research director for the Technology Horizons Program of the Institute for the Future, providing long-range forecasts on technology; he is also a co-founder of NYCwireless

People are people. From the ancients until now, there has been a huge increase in the levels of exposure to different viewpoints—but no change in tolerance that I’m aware of. I see no reason this will change with greater access to the Internet. –David Lee King, digital branch and services manager for the Topeka and Shawnee County (KS) Public Library

Rather than increasing social tolerance, the Internet will have become a perpetuating factor in sectarian strife, bigotry, and hate crimes. Individuals will gravitate toward sites and other individuals espousing their views.  For extremists, this will allow their views to seem normative, increasing the likelihood that they will act on them. Naomi L. Lacy, assistant professor, research division, University of Nebraska Medical Center

As society adapts to increased contact with other parts of the world, conflict is likely to increase—conflict of beliefs, thoughts and cultures. It will however slowly begin to subside towards 2020. Not sure it will be a more tolerant society. Syamant Sandhir, director, Futurescape Netcom Pvt. Ltd., an experience-design and implementation company

I have seen no data to support the closing of the Digital Divide.  In fact, I only see data in support of its widening. Instead, two societies emerge, one with Internet access and one set of values and another, the have-nots, who don’t necessarily speak English or read and have limited access to the technology of the day. Theresa Maddix, satisfaction research analyst, ForeSee Results

While tolerance is growing, the ability for people to be anonymous—and virtually say what they want without fear of exposure—is still a threat. It’s a form of bullying that can restrict many from truly expressing their views. Mike Driehorst, messaging strategist; leads social media for Hanson Inc., an interactive communications and video production company in Ohio

The Internet is an echo chamber.  People do not tend to willingly expose themselves to different viewpoints when using the Internet, they tend to expose themselves to similar viewpoints, thus causing their views to become more extreme.  If anything, the exact opposite of what you predict is a very real danger, although I am not *quite* pessimistic enough to believe things will get worse than they already are. –Alexis Turner, Webmaster, Greenwood Publishing Group, New York

Sadly, the Internet will feed and foster more divergent, out of the mainstream hateful beliefs. People with seeds of hate will find each other more easily and nourish one another’s beliefs. –Mariana Almeida, product manager of Web products for healthcare, Kaiser Permanente

Let’s hope so.  But remember, knowledge is not virtue. –Don Ranly, Ph.D., professor emeritus, University of Missouri School of Journalism

I agree overall. However, it looks like there will increasingly become pockets of ignorance online where groups live in ignorant walled gardens reinforced by self-generated and self-selected misinformation. Brian T. Nakamoto, co-founder of MrJoy Inc. and product-line manager for Everyone.net, (a leading provider of outsourced e-mail solutions for individuals and companies around the world)

Despite its potential, the Internet is not a place where people go to be exposed to different views. More often than not, it’s a place where people go to find people who agree with the things they already believe. The increasing balkanization of the Internet along geographic lines will only perpetuate this. (On the upside, improved translation software might prove a great help to those who actively seek out cross-cultural understanding.) Ivor Tossell, technology columnist/journalist for the Toronto Globe and Mail, known as “the blogging journalist” and a social observer

The Internet supports both tolerance and intolerance—by increasing proximity, division rather than consensus is more likely. Ed Steinmueller, professor, science and technology policy research, University of Sussex; researches industrial structure of high technology industries, co-evolution of technology 

I fail to see the causal link between the capacity for people to acquire more information about others and becoming more tolerant. Why indeed would people become less tolerant as they became aware of the range of extreme and ill-informed views that exist. Have the Al-Qaeda executions on the Internet made us more tolerant of that behavior? Tim Grafton, market research director for UMR Research Ltd., a market research company based in New Zealand

I hope this will be true. However there is still the constancy of crime, fraud, and general meanness, which usually keeps up with the latest technology/social innovation. Jennifer Jarratt, principal, Leading Futurists LLC; works with formalized methodologies to assess and interpret potential futures

Violence will continue. More content is a neutral thing, affording both a greater sense of shared humanity and reasons for hatred. Bryan Alexander, director of research National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education, blogger, expert on computer-mediated pedagogy, Ripton, Vermont

Our culture seems to be sacrificing our moral standards on the altar of tolerance. I don’t think greater tolerance for the sins of others will lead to less violence. We will simply be no longer labeling actions that are wrong as violent and unacceptable. Furthermore, those who do stand up for traditional JudeoChristian morals and values will face harassment and persecution.–Jana Vanderslice, counselor and technoethics researcher

I hope this will be true but fear that a further balkanization will be the more probable scenario. Wim van de Donk, professor of public administration and chairman of the Scientific Council for Government Policy in The Netherlands (WRR)

I think that this will be true for many, but as can already be seen, the Internet allows various disaffected groups, who would in the past never have come together, to “meet” and grow stronger through this union. –Ruth Martin, National Chengchi University, Taiwan

The Net overall would seem to foster a greater social tolerance, but I don’t think it will make a measurable difference in 13 years, given the many sources of intolerance (including some who use the Net for that purpose). –Earl Babbie, professor emeritus and writer, BEinc, prolific author of books on social research 

We’ll see fewer incidents but larger and more violent ones.  Those who use ethnicity/race issues as a means to power will continue to press forward, now with ways to mobilize larger groups. –Christopher Jacobs, chief operating officer, Solutions for Progress Inc.; formerly with KnowledgeFlow Inc. and Unisys Corp.

Great degrees of connection between people from different perspectives; smaller global village; more tolerance. At least one hopes so. John Eckman, practice director, Next Generation Internet, Optaros Inc., a professional services firm offering strategy, design, development and consulting services tied to open source software

The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. The Internet could be making people a lot more insecure about what they know and don’t know. So maybe this insecurity could result in more people staying home and trying to get smarter (which takes a lot of time) and producing less violence.–Virginia Bisek, Web content developer and writer

While I believe that “social tolerance has advanced significantly” generally, in 2020, the use of the Internet and communication technologies will bring about more organized acts of violence, terrorism, and sectarian strife. The acts of violence will be bigger, and perhaps more frequent, as perpetrators vie for the best YouTube video and worldwide exposure. Woody Degan, chief executive officer and operations director, Memphis Sound Entertainment; Consumer First Consulting, IT Consulting

The general population will embrace this but the Internet and other digital tools will enable bigotry, hate, and religious groups to continue their intolerant beliefs underground. Chris Miller, senior vice president, digital operations and new business for Element 79, an advertising agency

I agree partly because I hope this will be the case. Social change brings on a corresponding backlash that must be dealt with in other venues—schools, houses of worship? –Lynn Blumenstein, senior editor, Library Hotline, Reed Business Information

There are no real signs that toleration is increasing on a global level. The Internet seems to serve both the cause of greater tolerance and greater intolerance at the same time and will undoubtedly continue to do so. –Daniel Fisher, lecturer

I don’t think that it is at all clear that the Internet is influencing people to be more tolerant. –David F. Salisbury, associate director for science and research communications, Vanderbilt University; formerly  science and technology reporter for The Christian Science Monitor

The social tolerance will occur in part due to the vast networks of weak ties that people will maintain through social networking sites. Rob Boostrom, Ph.D. student, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, creator of the Society for Word of Mouth, “a group for educators to share ideas about sharing ideas”

Wider exposure can make those already receptive to new ideas more tolerant, however the way in which those not receptive to other ideas grow more violent and intolerant appears to be an ‘equal and opposite reaction.’ Witness Al Qaeda recruiting via the Internet, and beheadings being carried out specifically for the mass media. –Francis J.L. Osborn, futurist and activist, philosophy department, University of Wales Lampeter (formerly St. David’s University College)

The perpetrators of the acts described in the scenario are the acts of those who not going to be affected by something like Internet-promoted social tolerance. While the existence of new means of disseminating information and opinion are significant in moving things incrementally along the Internet is just as capable of serving those looking to create disharmony. I believe the benefits of the Internet will be important and positive in the long haul but they will be realized only after generations have passed. –Sam Punnett, president, FAD Research Inc.; has worked in the field of interactive digital media since the 1980s, for the last nine years on strategy, marketing, and e-business development

The Internet exposes us to many ideas and things we wouldn’t normally be exposed to, and as a result, over time, it will increase tolerance because people will increasingly connect as global communities. –Jonathan Dube, president of Online News Association, director of digital media at CBC News, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, publisher of CyberJournalist.net
It’s highly doubtful that Internet, which reinforces social and educational differences (if not creates them) will increase social tolerance. –Yves Froidevaux, Swiss Federal Statistical Office

The world is likely to split into several different forms of society/civilization: one large group will be characterized as described in this scenario…but not all groups. Increased specialization in a more complex environment is an evolutionary pattern. Mary Ann Allison, principal, The Allison Group, has worked with Microsoft, Glasgow’s Urban Learning Space, and other businesses, governments and NGOs

Tribalism and identity-related group divisions may become psychologically more inviting or advantageous; loyalty to one’s tribe may be rewarded more than an easy-going tolerance of difference…perhaps. Alex Don, linguist and educator

I don’t believe that these statistics have anything to do with the Internet. People are people, period. Perhaps after a few generations we will see the greater ease of communication and global community resulting in more tolerance, but I have a hard time believing we’re seeing that right now, so early in the Web’s history. –Sarah Houghton-Jan, consultant for the Infopeople Project; digital futures manager, San Jose Public Library; author of the Librarian in Black technology blog

Tolerance or non-tolerance are too deeply rooted in people’s psyche to change significantly within 10 years. Ulrich Spalthoff, director advanced technology, Alcatel-Lucent, Paris; expert in solid state science, semiconductor materials, optical fiber communications

Exposure to other points of view should increase tolerance, as long as those points of view are portrayed from a level-headed perspective. Luckily, we’ve seen self-leveling phenomena in well-moderated social sites and forums, where participants will correct any skewed data put forth early in the thread. –Jason Stoddard, managing partner/strategy at Centric/Agency of Change, an interactive strategies company; he is also a popular speaker on social media and virtual worlds

We will have a new set of intolerant norms replacing the old ones. –Robert Grant, chief executive officer, VoyaCare Inc.

Unfortunately increasing exposure of individuals to each other allows extremists with a minority point of view to become even more radicalized and potentially violent. This, along with desensitization of previous trend mentioned may not lead to greater tolerance. Dan Weingrod, vice president for digital operations, Cronin and Co.; oversees creative online initiatives for integrated marketing communications company

There is already a disturbing trend in Internet.  Making it easy to create groups with very specific views is allowing people to stay within groups that share these views. If it’s too easy to share only with “same-view” people, we may lose our tolerance. Louis Naugès, president, Revevol, an enterprise 2.0 company with offices in France, Spain, the UK and US; a founder of Microcost, an IT services and hardware company based in France

I hope this scenario comes to pass, but I’m not sure of it at all. Hank Dearden, director of business development, Digital Industry Inc., a provider of technology services in the Washington, DC, area

Unfortunately, access to the Internet and ICTs will not reduce crime and improve tolerance of others to the extent this scenario suggests. This scenario will be true only if we also reduce poverty and provide safe access to clean water, nutritious food, education, and health resources. –L. Suzanne Suggs, assistant professor of communication sciences, University of Lugano; research focuses on use of new media and messaging strategies to improve health status

The Internet is a tool for communications. Human nature remains the same it while it can promote peace it can also be used to promote hate (see Al Qaeda’s use of it). I see the violence only going down in proportion to demographic (lower birthrates means fewer males between 16 and 34) and social (higher standards of living) conditions than as a result of the Internet. –James Gorman, principal, Working Technology Partners, a company offering technology solutions to businesses

Historically, integration of people at a social, community, travel, and trade level should have had a similar effect. I’m not sure we’re seeing the evidence. Duane Degler, user-centered designer and strategist for Design for Context, writer and editor for IPGems, focused on knowledge management, semantic integration and performance improvement

Hate crimes come out of childhood programming. Individuals who are brought up to weigh evidence and not prejudge others will use the Internet for openness—the others will use it to connect with other hate-mongers. Nancy W. Bauer, chief executive officer and editor-in-chief, WomenMatter Inc.

This scenario is devoid of myriad real-world issues, notably global population growth and competition for scarce resources that are likely to breed discontent. J.W. Huston, president of Huston Consultancy and futurist

Technology can work both ways. Text messaging was recently used to incite violence in Kenya. On the other hand, exposure to “the other” will increase acceptance and understanding. –Kathryn K. Goldfarb, president, KG Communications, an independent consultancy

This “tolerance” will be mostly fake tolerance, necessary to be integrated to the community…Underground networks will (and already) exist where people join anonymously, and the level of social tolerance yielded will be close to zero. Alexandre Winter, co-founder and chief executive officer, LTU Technologies, a global leader in image search and recognition technologies

Tolerance comes from a sense that the “other” is not a danger. I think most people (and peoples) are relatively benign.  Therefore, knowledge of “others” always trumps prejudice.  I sure hope this one comes true. –Mike Langum, Web developer, U.S. Office of Personnel Management

The Internet brings wider exposure but sadly does not teach tolerance. It’ll take much more than a few Web sites to reduce levels of crime and strife. Jay Buys, vice president for digital development, Fleishman Hillard, an international marketing and communications company

This will be true, and we will also see communities aligning themselves in the physical world more closely in ideological terms. Kent Kirschner, media specialist, Neighborhood America, inviting companies to understand the power of community building online

Sadly, being more informed does not breed tolerance. People will be more informed, but that does not mean they will be more tolerant. It could even have the opposite effect of intolerance.  The information on the Internet is a mix of fact and fiction. This scenario assumes otherwise. –Mack B. Rhoades Jr., Web services product manager, Michael Baker Corp.

It is mainly a hope that social tolerance will improve as people make connections with other people across economic, social and geographic borders.  My major misgiving is that the Internet also allows more narrow niche developments that may also foster separation.Michael Castengera, senior lecturer at the University of Georgia’s Grady College and president of Media Strategies and Tactics Inc., a media consulting firm

The Internet has nothing to do with socialization and attitude reproduction by parents, the true cause of intolerance and hate. Positive exposures to cultural differences must happen in person to be effective. The Internet still allows social distance that cannot be avoided when face to face. –Melanie McCalmont, owner-operator of Synchronous Publications

National pride appears a clumsy electoral argument, as many election results are influenced by foreign analysts, and many important decision are taken outside of national authority. The largest ethnic and national groups among the 2020 newborn is “mixed race” and “double-national.” Not knowing the key elements of the ten largest religions is considered a concerning closed-mind. –Bertil Hatt, researcher of Internet and social services, innovation valuation; employed by France Telecom and Orange (information technology and services industry) while completing Ph.D.
I fear that, while technology allows for broader understanding, it also allows focused extremist groups to form more readily.  These groups will often have a negative impact, conduct violent acts, and perpetrate hate crimes. –Robert H. Rich, Ph.D., strategic planning and evaluation, American Chemical Society

Constantly increasing stresses on society as we migrate from oil-based to alternate-based economies will continue to provide plenty of opportunity for misunderstanding and hatred. What may be true is that skin color will not be the determining factor.  Other factors such as the haves and the have-nots will be the determining factor. Richard Hammond, knowledge management team leader, United States Environmental Protection Agency; knowledge management expert currently examining Semantic Web and RFID

This is the great unknown. Religious fanaticism will continue, particularly in the Christian and Muslim portions of the world.  There will always be those that are not smart enough or too lazy to reach out and learn about those different from themselves.  Decreasing the percentage of people who fall into that category is the goal of a modern society. Dixon Hutchinson, software engineer

If the Internet changes a society for good, why are we not now seeing greater social tolerance in proportion to Internet usage? Marco Rivera, Internet specialist, Vistronix Inc., an information management, technological solutions, and managed services firm serving federal, state, and local agencies 

Not everyone is part of this digital age. Some will deliberately exclude themselves from it. Negative behavior will still persist and although there will be improvements in social tolerance, there will still be social intolerance, much of it present on the Internet as it is today. Helen Keegan, founder of Beep Marketing, a self-employed consultant and a judge for the Webby Awards

I optimistically agree that the Internet is connecting more people and more people to more information. An enlightened population is a more tolerant one. Elizabeth Talerman, chief operating officer, Talerman+Partners LLC, a marketing integration company; previously senior vice president of marketing at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia