The links on this page lead to thousands of forecasts about the networked future
The 2010 Elon University-Pew Internet survey of technology experts and analysts – the Future of the Internet IV – asked participants to share their thoughts on 10 topics. The data was released in a series of six reports delivered in various venues over the first seven months of 2010. See links to the longest, most-detailed content from the studies by scrolling down to the bottom half of this page and using the direct links to deep sets of data. Top-of-page information offers links only to the brief PDF copies of report briefings.
PDFs of the summaries of the six 2010 Future IV reports.
REPORT 1 – A Look at Five Key Internet Issues: released at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in February 2010, covered five of the 10 issues addressed by the survey. Respondents shared thousands of issues-exposing predictive statements tied to five “tension pairs” projecting their attitudes about the likely state of things in 2020. They commented on the Internet and the evolution of: intelligence; reading, writing and the rendering of knowledge; identity and authentication; gadgets and applications; and the core values of the Internet.
Find links to the deepest details at the bottom of this page or use this link to download the shorter 45-page briefing of the Report 1 data released at the AAAS meeting as a PDF.
REPORT 2 – Future of Institutions and the Internet: Results tied to 6th 2010 survey question on the future of institutions – in which respondents were asked to “share your view of the Internet’s influence upon the future of institutional relationships with patrons and customers between now and 2020” – were revealed at a March 31 Capital Cabal event in Washington, D.C.
REPORT 3 – FutureWeb keynote reveals results to a question about the semantic Web: Results tied to questions about the future of the semantic Web were first released in Lee Rainie’s keynote at the FutureWeb conference April 28 in Raleigh, N.C., at the global WWW2010 conference.
REPORT 4 – The Future of the Internet and Cloud Computing: The Future of the Internet IV survey contained a question in which survey participants had the opportunity to share their views on the evolution of cloud computing between now and 2020. Researchers from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University announced the details June 11.
REPORT 5 – Social Relationships and the Internet: Results of a survey question on people’s use of the Internet as a tool for creating and continuing personal connections, released July 2.
REPORT 6 – Generation Y and the Internet: The results tied to the final 2010 survey question – about Generation Y and the evolution of the Internet – were released by Future of the Internet IV authors Lee Rainie and Janna Anderson at a special event at the World Future 2010: Sustainable Futures, Strategies and Technologies conference in Boston July 9.
A slideshow with a comprehensive look at data, presented at WorldFuture 2010 in Boston in July 2010, is located here.
Deeper content, including thousands of responses,is available at the links below. A Cambria Press book on the results with additional analysis is forthcoming later in 2010 – see previous titles here.
895 Internet stakeholders, including leading activists, builders, and commentators were asked to compare thought-provoking pairs of one-sentence statements. Each of these “tension pairs” offered two different 2020 scenarios with a similar theme but different outcomes. Survey participants were asked to select the most-likely choice and elaborate on their decisions. The content of the tension pairs was built from common attitudes today about the likely evolution of the Internet. The study was designed to elicit focused observations about the potential future impact and influence of the Internet; respondents’ written elaborations – the qualitative results – are the most valuable data gathered by the study. Thus we have built this site to share links to thousands of responses from concerned digital citizens, with our deepest thanks to the survey participants for contributing to this repository of thoughtful responses that add to the conversations about our future.
Among the quantitative Future IV survey results revealed so far from the expert group:
- MILLENNIALS expected to continue social patterns – Most experts expect tech-savvy young people to stay active in virtual hangouts and continue sharing personal information as they age and have families. They are building relationships and reputations online, they see many benefits and they will not reduce their use of social tools as they age and take on more responsibilities.
- RELATIONSHIPS – Use of the Internet is expanding human connections: 85% of the respondents agreed with the statement, “In 2020, when I look at the big picture and consider my personal friendships, marriage and other relationships, I see that the Internet has mostly been a positive force on my social world, and this will only grow more true in the future.”
- GOOGLE isn’t ‘making us stupid’: 76% of these experts agreed with the statement, “By 2020, people’s use of the Internet has enhanced human intelligence; as people are allowed unprecedented access to more information they become smarter and make better choices. Nicholas Carr was wrong: Google does not make us stupid.”
- READING, writing and the rendering of knowledge will be improved: 65% agreed with the statement “by 2020 it will be clear that the Internet has enhanced and improved reading, writing and the rendering of knowledge.” Still, 32% of the respondents expressed concerns that by 2020 “it will be clear that the Internet has diminished and endangered reading, writing and the rendering of knowledge.”
- INNOVATION will continue to catch us by surprise: 80% of the experts agreed that the “hot gadgets and applications that will capture the imaginations of users in 2020 will often come ‘out of the blue.’”
- ANONYMOUS online activity will be challenged, though a modest majority still think it will possible in 2020: There’s generally a split verdict among the expert respondents about the fate on online anonymity. Some 55% agreed that Internet users will still be able to communicate anonymously, while 41% agreed that by 2020 “anonymous online activity is sharply curtailed.”
- CONTROL issues are driving a power struggle – respondents hope information will flow relatively freely online, though they expect there will continue to be conflict over control of the Internet. Concerns over control of the Internet were expressed in answers to a question about the end-to-end principle. 61% responded that the Internet will remain as its founders envisioned, however many who agreed with the statement that “most disagreements over the way information flows online will be resolved in favor of a minimum number of restrictions” also noted that their response was a “hope” and not necessarily their true expectation. 33% chose to agree with the statement that “the Internet will mostly become a technology where intermediary institutions that control the architecture and …content will be successful in gaining the right to manage information and the method by which people access it.”
- INSTITUTIONS are highly likely to change but at varied paces, with businesses (driven by economics and public demands for participation) leading the way and governments lagging. While a majority of respondents think bureaucracies will be more responsive and efficient by 2020 due to use of the Internet the survey participants also hedged their optimistic responses with expressions of concern and many pushed back, saying institutions can exercise more control in the digital age.
- THE SEMANTIC WEB is gradually evolving and improving user experiences but Tim Berners-Lee’s original vision is seen by some to be unrealistically broad and unattainable; while survey participants believe online information will continue to be organized and accessible in smarter and more useful ways in coming years, there is a stark dispute about whether the improvements will match the visionary ideals of those who are working to build the semantic web.
- CLOUD COMPUTING will be advanced and embraced more fully as more people begin to use multiple smart devices – especially mobile phones. They say they enjoy the advantages of ambient intelligence. Most say the desktop paradigm will co-exist with the cloud, but people crave the hyperconnectivity offered by the cloud. However, cloud computing – still in its early development – also presents significant new issues and concerns.
General methodology details: Participants in the survey were presented with 10 possible 2020 scenarios and asked to agree with one of two possible projected outcomes based on current common societal views; this was followed by a request for them to elaborate on their answers. This report includes only the results of five of the 10 questions. the additional results will be released later. The scenarios – woven from data collected in recent industry and research reports and predictive public statements by leaders in science, technology, business, and politics – were constructed with overlapping elements to spur discussion and an illumination of issues.
The agree-disagree aspects of the survey yielded questionable quantitative numbers because respondents often said they were forced to make a choice, their written elaborations brought focused concerns to light; the elaborations yielded significant qualitative information, illuminating concerns and hopes for the future, and this is the primary purpose of these surveys.
A wide range of opinion from experts, organizations and interested institutions was sought, this survey should not be taken as a representative canvassing of Internet experts. By design, this survey was an “opt in,” self-selecting effort. That process does not yield a random, representative sample. The quantitative results are based on a non-random online sample of 895 Internet experts and other Internet users, recruited by e-mail invitation, Twitter or Facebook. Since the data are based on a non-random sample, a margin of error cannot be computed, and results are not projectable to any population other than the respondents in this sample.
Many of the respondents are Internet veterans – 50% have been using the Internet since 1992 or earlier, with 11 percent actively involved online since 1982 or earlier. When asked for their primary area of Internet interest, 15% of the survey participants identified themselves as research scientists; 14% as business leaders or entrepreneurs; 12% as consultants or futurists, 12% as authors, editors or journalists; 9% as technology developers or administrators; 7% as advocates or activist users; 3% as pioneers or originators; 2% as legislators, politicians or lawyers; and 25 percent specified their primary area of interest as “other.” Results are divided into a column for invited experts only and a column that combines experts with general public.