Elon University

The 2014 Survey: Threats to Net access, innovation (Anonymous Responses)

This page contains only the anonymous written responses from Internet experts and stakeholders who answered this question in the 2014 Pew Research/Elon University Future of the Internet Survey. Some survey respondents chose to identify themselves; a majority remained anonymous. We share most of the anonymous respondents’ written answers here. Workplaces are attributed for the purpose of indicating a level of expertise; statements reflect personal views. To read the full report, click the image below.

Anonymous responses by those who answered this survey question

Link to Full SurveyInternet experts and highly engaged netizens participated in answering an eight-question survey fielded by Elon University and the Pew Internet Project from late November 2013 through early January 2014.

This survey question asked respondents to share their answer to the following query:

By 2025, will there be significant changes for the worse and hindrances to the ways in which people get and share content online compared with the way globally networked people can operate online today? Describe what you believe are the most serious threats to the most effective accessing and sharing of content on the Internet. What steps are necessary to block changes that would limit people’s optimal future capabilities in using the Internet?  

Among the key themes emerging from more than 1,400 respondents’ answers were: While the majority of respondents said they hope to see few changes for the worse in regard to knowledge sharing online in the future, they expressed many concerns about likely hindrances. Some predicted that actions by nation-states to maintain security and political control will lead to more blocking, filtering, segmentation, and balkanization of the Internet. Some said trust will evaporate in the wake of revelations about government and corporate surveillance and likely greater surveillance efforts in the future. The ever-expanding sea of information online and the resulting need for information filters is an accelerating problem and some respondents said algorithm-based knowledge acquisition has major drawbacks. A primary concern of many survey participants is the fact that commercial incentives and pressures affecting everything from Internet architecture to the flow of information are endangering the open structure of online life. Among the problems arising from this are: Concerns over the possible demise of the principles expressed by ‘Net neutrality,’ and the redefinition of the Net “in TV terms.” Negative influences of copyright protection schemes and patent law. And governments’ and corporations’ focus mostly on near-term gains, missing opportunities to advance the best digital future.

To read full official survey analysis, please click here.

To read credited responses to the report, please click here.

Following is a large sample including a majority of the responses from survey participants who chose to remain anonymous in making their remarks in the survey; some are the longer versions of expert responses that are contained in the official survey report. More than half of respondents chose not to take credit for their elaboration on the question (for-credit responses are published on a separate page). They were asked: “Will there be significant changes for the worse and hindrances to the ways in which people get and share content online compared with the way globally networked people can operate online today? Describe what you believe are the most serious threats? What steps are necessary to block changes that would limit people’s optimal future capabilities in using the Internet?”

A professor at Georgetown University, and former US Federal Trade Commission official, wrote, “Given the global nature of data flows, national parochial interests may prove to be a bottleneck; already, access and sharing are hindered by parochial national laws. The European Union’s privacy initiative can be a serious bottleneck, and the Safe Harbor regime is in jeopardy. Nationalism, and sovereign interests—for good reasons (privacy protection), or bad (economic protectionism)—are clear and present threats.”

A director of innovation wrote, “The serious threat is the increased scale and scope of monetization of content on the Internet, cutting information access for low-income groups. The early signs of this include: a global growth in pay walls, as well as the appearance of time limits on free Web page content (i.e., free-to-view for a limited time, then charged for). People who cannot afford content subscriptions will have their usage restricted and monetized by Internet service providers (ISPs). Legislation is needed to protect those people’s interests. Groups at most risk include the unemployed, micro businesses, and people in the Third World. To block those undesirable changes, ISPs should be required to list possible sources of Open Access (free) content that is similar to their charged-for content. One big looming opportunity is the ability to create Success Networks, which combine social networks, volunteer mentoring, big data, and Open Access.”

A political scientist who studies cyber-culture, social movements, political violence, and African politics responded, “Governments are the most serious threat. There will be more and more pressure on governments for transparency in the realm of surveillance.”

A self-employed consultant focusing on Internet policy and technology, and longtime IETF leader, responded, “I expect changes for the worse, as well as for the better. We are headed into a really nasty period for accessibility of digital materials more than a few years old. People’s current prevailing optimism on those subjects is likely to turn out to be part of the problem.”

An information science professional wrote, “Information ownership will become restrictive as more intellectual property becomes only available digitally and not in a physical package. That creates a system where access is reliant on ownership of a device. These devices will become incredibly affordable but still another platform required to access content. Once content is available exclusively this way, pay walls can be enforced, and content can easily be restricted, changed, or difficult to navigate. Sharing intellectual property through crowdsourcing can help solve problems we have not been able to solve in the past. A challenge is the private ownership of content.”

An Internet pioneer and author wrote, “The states and industries that were taken by surprise when the radically decentralized control structure of the Internet enabled billions of people to have printing presses and broadcasting stations on their desktops and in their pockets have been acting successfully to take back the centralization of power that they used to have. Copyright extension into the digital realm, ubiquitous state surveillance, the rollback of Net neutrality, the narrowing of choices for access providers all point to a recentralization of power. Citizens who use the Internet have to be both technology geeks and policy wonks to even understand what Net neutrality is about. The advantage is to the indefatigable lobbyists.”

A government executive wrote, “Network neutrality is my main concern.”

An editor focused on how technology affects policy and society for a major US-based online news organization wrote, “The situation seems precarious. Net neutrality and a balkanized Internet are serious threats to the ability for people worldwide to connect online. If the US can work with the rest of the world to create a better Internet governance system—one that the US does not dominate, but that also does not give too much power to those governments that wish to censor content—the Internet’s future will remain bright.”

A professor of technoculture at the University of California-Davis predicted, “Governments will take over control of much of the Internet, plus copyright police will clamp down as well. True Net neutrality and a move away from the profit motive should be the goal.”

A post-doctoral researcher wrote, “There is a tendency to create closed networks instead of open networks as a protection against the cyber threats out there. So we are seeing an increase in walled gardens created by giants like Facebook and Apple. I see that tendency increasing in the future. Commercialization of the Internet, paradoxically, is the biggest challenge to the growth of the Internet. Communication networks’ lobbying against Net neutrality is the biggest example of this.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “The loss of Net neutrality changes all. No more information freeway, it will be an information toll road.”

An information science professional in Michigan responded, “The future might be worse in some ways but in others it might be better. So long as Net neutrality stays in place as the worldwide norm the future will probably be better than today.”

An anonymous respondent observed, “Hindrances and lack of access and sharing are a possible future. If governments are successful in their attempts to control the Internet then it will be more locked down and harder to share content. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the current incarnation of US and other government’s attempts to exert state control and ensure pre-eminence of corporations over and above individuals.”

A self-employed Web designer/developer and writer responded, “The most serious threat is the corporations that are lobbying governments. Network neutrality is desperately needed, but I’m not sure if it will be secured. To ensure the Internet remains relatively accessible, we must vote out those politicians who are swayed by corporate dollars.”

A strategic intelligence analyst on digital, tech, and telecom issues for a large advertising and marketing company wrote, “Certain countries have censorship today, and that may not change. Other countries do not have strict censorship, though there is always the threat of mass surveillance. It may cause self-censorship. The major online companies, such as Google, are already controlling what we have access to and what they want us to see or not see, not always for our benefit. They may let us know about what is convenient and appealing, but we may lose some serendipity and the opportunity to learn about other points of view that we are comfortable with.”

An academic librarian responded, “As an information professional, one of the biggest threats I see to people’s optimal future capabilities in using the Internet is a trend away from human-created metadata and taxonomies in favor of quick-and-dirty systems for ‘organizing’ information. In addition, I see a movement away from the ownership model to the subscription model as a major hindrance. Even libraries, which once were sensible about creating and maintaining systems that allowed their users to access and share content, are beginning to follow this trends.”

A manager of special projects for an information science journal wrote, “Some countries will further disallow their citizens to move beyond the intellectual and physical boundaries via the Web. I am thinking of China, South Korea, and some states in the Middle East. I am also concerned that the focus on monetization of, well, everything on the Internet is the real barrier to community and freedom.”

A self-employed digital communications consultant observed, “People will continue to be able to get significant amounts of content online because they expect and demand it. Will it be good content? And will it be free content? Those are the big questions for the future.”

The CEO of a consultancy dealing with top-level Internet domains wrote, “The most serious threats are governments and security and trust of people accessing it. Third-world countries’ access to the Internet will increase, providing a larger global marketplace and incredible opportunities to improve their standard of living.”

The chief counsel for a major foundation wrote, “Collusive and anti-competitive practices by telecommunications operators threaten the re-creation of an Internet controlled by people. Although corporate lobbyists, including those employed by government, are currently intent on reducing access to knowledge and information through intellectual property laws and trade agreements, by 2025, the struggle will be over. The business models of the content intermediary incumbents will be extinct. The intermediaries will either have developed new business models not reliant on suing their own customers, or they will have disappeared. No educated person younger than thirty today accepts the claims made by content intermediaries as justification for laws to prop up their business model. There will be a struggle in the period between today and 2025. Innovators will abandon those countries in which the content intermediaries are able to retain their capture of the state longest. Free and open source software that enables people to create and run their own distributed hoc networks, email and message servers, and encryption without anything more than simple connectivity, will enable people to realize the fullest potential of the Internet.”

A program manager for an international nonprofit organization that promotes access to electronic resources and knowledge in developing and transition countries wrote, “An open access movement and civil society movement to promote more equal and balanced access to online information will result in a better situation than today, especially in regard to online access.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “We are still battling with DRM.”

The principal engineer for an Internet of Things development company responded, “There might be more privacy concerns, but access to the global Internet (with its associated content) will just keep getting better, as that is how governments/industry will make money. And, this will trump all other concerns.”

A researcher based at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government wrote, “We will probably see modification of Net neutrality, with the consequence that some types of high-quality video and other applications will be reserved for people with means. But that is largely already the case, and so the trend will not significantly change our social and economic situation. Information and knowledge inequality will increase, exacerbating inequality, but not by an order of magnitude.”

A professor of information systems at a university in France responded, “There are two problems: privacy and intellectual property. The privacy problem is obvious: as long as business analytics was in infancy, sharing anything was a small risk. These times are gone, and I’m very reluctant to share anything that can be indirectly used for commercial profiling, especially if the company is not constrained by European laws. IP next: beginning with production, the conditions of use of major players on the Internet can easily be qualified as ‘sided contracts’ by any lawyer, and the excessive length and restrictive interpretations of copyright are an obstacle to creativity.”

A strategy and business intelligence manager for a major city library in the United States predicted, “Intellectual property rights in the Internet Age are still in their infancy. By 2025, I think there will be structures and barriers in place to protect content creators. Many providers spent ten or more years giving away their content and almost put themselves out of business. Now, they’re imposing fees and trying to find a way to survive.”

A district software administrator observed, “Hindrances include: pay walls, filters, limits on, and differences in, Internet speed, device capabilities, and being creeped out by what the Internet knows about you.”

A professor of journalism at a state university in Minnesota wrote, “The issue of rich versus poor will continue to be a problem, but generally, progress will move in an equitable and democratic direction.”

A new-media researcher, and teacher at a university of approximately 10,000 students in New York City, wrote, “The situation will be better in Europe/Scandinavia/Japan, where folks already enjoy better and cheaper mobile service and broadband access than in the United States. The threats facing Americans include the high-priced, yet generally slow, plans offered by both mobile and Internet providers, as well as the federal government’s lack of investment in high-speed bandwidth for all.”

A healthcare entrepreneur responded, “In 2025, social networks will still dictate how broadly information is shared. Most people are not global, and connectivity will not necessarily imply global citizenship.”

A retired network administrator, formerly with the US Department of Commerce, noted, “Young people now do not understand the difference between credible facts and words on the Internet. Anyone can write anything and post it; credibility of the author is ignored. As the Internet grows, some way is needed to separate facts from opinion.”

A US government research professional wrote, “There are two major problems—one is with the affordability and access to different kinds of technology that will make for a ‘technological underclass,’ who may not have equity of access or functionality. In addition, there may be a proliferation of pay walls, which will stratify information by income.”

A behavioral researcher specializing in design in voting and elections responded, “There are two big threats: government surveillance and organized crime. And, while things might look bleak right now, they will get worse. There will be more exposés, and individuals will have their online identities stolen with more frequency.”

A 25-year veteran of technology research and entrepreneurship, now holding the titles of both professor and CEO, wrote, “It is likely that the attempt to obtain DRM will return in the form of walled gardens, between which information cannot be exchanged. The demise of the general-purpose computer, as well as a regulatory environment that has no anti-trust teeth, is likely to cause many services on the Internet to splinter into multiple verticals. Clearly, the only way to stop this is by government intervention, but these are as clueless as ever. We need to stop applying commercial rules (i.e., copyright, patents) to private lives. More generally, the patent system needs to be curtailed to the extent that it is actually fostering innovation. The risk landscape must return to reason, where people do not incur uncontrollable legal risks during normal life, and corporations have a way to control their legal risk without spending most of their money and most of their attention on it. On the other hand, participants in commercial service offerings must retain unalienable rights that can’t be signed over to a corporation; there needs to be strong oversight of commercial and government uses of information. Only if these uses can be trusted can people be expected to fully participate.”

The president of a technology policy center based in Washington, DC, responded, “We already see balkanization. The days of the free open Web will probably be over.”

A manager for a major US foundation predicted, “More companies will begin charging for things that are free, such as a pay-to-play for open-source software.”

The executive director of one of California’s state-based public organizations predicted, “Defining an ‘authority’ will be challenging for researchers, students, and teachers if everyone has the opportunity to enter content. Who will decide? I do not think we can effectively limit people’s capabilities in using the Internet, so, maybe, the effort should be spent on teaching ethics and integrity around content.”

A post-doctoral researcher in mechanical engineering noted, “People already share so much information over the Internet, probably TMI (too much information)! Seriously, while governmental blockages of sites may hinder sharing, we have already seen that fall with things like the Arab Spring; however, there are some dangerous bills that have been introduced that seek to limit the Internet in the name of ‘copyright’ laws, which would have made abuse of power a real possibility. As long as the public and legislators are aware of such laws, and they do not go into effect, I do not see any issues.”

A librarian for the US Department of Education wrote, “Security is the largest stumbling block to online sharing. I do not feel optimistic about that getting figured out.”

An information science professional observed, “Governments around the world will continue to lock down their citizens’ access to control the flow of information. The digital divide will change. As more people can afford cheaper mobile connectivity, more content will require payment to access it. The rich will have access to better, more complete information.”

An assistant professor at New Mexico State University wrote, “In the famous paraphrase of something Stewart Brand once said: ‘Information wants to be free, and information wants to be expensive.’ In other words, technological capability is at war with intellectual property rights. On the one hand, major US ‘content’ companies, such as Disney, have used their political influence (which is to say, their money in the legally right but morally corrupt US campaign finance system) to ensure that much of their intellectual property will never enter the public domain. On the other hand, stealing (illegal downloading) is harshly punished because scofflaws are so rarely caught. We need to divvy up copyrightable property into at least two categories: one that has a much shorter coverage period than the present one, and the other with a longer time horizon. Unless we do this, there is a danger of cultural stagnation in the arts because, eventually, everything will be ‘owned,’ and the public commons will become mean and small. If a feasible system of micro-payments were developed, such as Ted Nelson envisioned in his Xanadu Project, and that Jaron Lanier has been calling for most recently, then copyright law in its current form might become much less of a problem; however, either the size of micro-payments must be truly small, on a global basis, so that the poor are not excluded, or there must be (for this reason and a host of others) a seismic change in taxation and wealth redistribution to make the playing field more level. The latter is both an economic and a social necessity in order to avoid an eventual bloody confrontation. It is also the morally right thing to do.”

The executive director of a nonprofit that protects civil liberties online responded, “Accessing and sharing information will become easier. I hope current copyright stakeholders will become more marginalized in their efforts to expand their hold on information sharing, and that more traditional concepts, such as fair use, will once again rule the day. A challenge could arise if intellectual property law continues to be used to cripple innovation. I think we are just starting to see the first generation of people who grew up with ubiquitous information getting into creative positions, and it is exciting to see what will come from that.”

A professor at a Big Ten research university in the US wrote, “The more people share, the more data can be mined, and the more Facebook, Google, Amazon, and the rest are worth. The most serious threats to accessing and sharing are from those major corporations that hold the data and want to lock it up. The opportunities that will help us see the best potentials in the future are: the use of the Internet for social change; during major disasters; to connect family members and diaspora communities; for user-generated content; for collective knowledge making and research; and for medicine and science.”

An employee of the US government based in Washington, DC, responded, “The most serious threat is the content itself. Google only returns 4% of the Internet in searches. Recommendations for content come from friends or from what marketers have tracked about you. We are no longer seeking out anything new or taking risks—we are just taking what we know and re-enforcing our own beliefs. That is dangerous. Also for the worse is the lack of authoritative content online. Crowd-sourced knowledge is now the norm, with no deep research to ensure it is accurate. The Internet’s value is in connection: connecting people to people; connecting people to products; connecting people to content. Marketers, businesses, and advertisers will continue to reap the rewards of this. Universities, research libraries, scholars’ centers, history museums, archives, and nonprofits with low budgets, will fall behind. One challenge is the ability to produce visually scintillating material in this highly digital medium. Those who make visually arresting graphics do well; those who do not have the skill or resources do not.”

An anonymous survey participant wrote, “Accessing and sharing content faces a Rubicon. Will controls—whether IP-, or profit-based—dampen down and restrict content? Or will a democratic, societal transformation be allowed to occur?”

The senior policy advisor for a major Internet operations organization responded, “More’s the pity, there seems to be little interest in evolving business models that make content access and sharing seamless, and the competition between the different areas to dominate the revenue stream seems set to block development. My biggest concern is about the quality of the content when the current system has a bias to race to the bottom.”

A technology leader in India said, “Habits will change according to available technology and quality.”

A research scientist for Google predicted, “There will be less interest in online sharing in the future due to the side effects it produces.”

An assistant professor at Radboud University-Nijmegen in the Netherlands said, “Privacy concerns are the major issue. Come to think of it, power consumption of these online sharing companies may become an issue. The private cloud or person-to-person-services will probably become more important. Future opportunities depend on the safeguards for privacy and personal safety. If minimum requirements are not met, the Internet will not be utilized to the fullest. These minimum requirements refer to national legislation, secret agencies utilizing Internet data for the use, and user friendliness.”

An anonymous survey participant observed, “Access to information, even that provided by the government, where it once was free, increasingly comes with a fee attached. This is likely to become more pronounced over the next decade, as print newspapers and magazines cease to exist, and access-by-subscription to Internet resources becomes the norm. Some shutdown of free transmission of academic and scholarly research is already underway, as academic publishers try to restrict redistribution of work they have published. While this is understandable in a commercial environment, where these same publishers are struggling to survive, we need to ensure that scholars who want to share the results of their work are allowed to do so freely.”

A retired educator with a PhD wrote, “Net-derived ‘morals’ are needed to replace outdated social constructs. Education will have to deliver controversial thought-provoking content, while teaching that the use of such content advances learning. The biggest threat is that content will be more fully monetized with restricted access.”

An associate professor at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, responded, “Yes, sharing will be controlled by organizations and less so by individuals. Companies like ancestry.com, radaris.com and People Search, limit individual ability to search freely for public information. We should insist that public information (social security, NIH data, NSF data, credit files) not be filtered through companies who are in the business to control who gets access and how information is disseminated.”

An assistant professor at the London School of Economics wrote, “The greatest threats to sharing online both relate to corporate power [include]: proprietary, walled gardens, which do not work across devices and Oss, and copyright law, which might be used to prevent sharing and creativity with existing content.”

A lecturer and researcher at a public university in Australia wrote, “Copyright is generally an evil and must be banned. Plagiarism is easily found these days, so what is the big deal? Why not allow attribution and free distribution? OK, so companies want to make money and pay their minions: fair, but I see companies like WordPress making a profit, as well as sharing their products. It enhances their business profile and encourages talent to get on board. In regard to the financial incentives and the need to control resources, there must be a better way than enforcing copyright.”

A former DuPont electrical engineer responsible for international electro-mechanical product safety compliance wrote, “Copyright is an issue for sure. I believe [that] eventually, the planet will move away from everything having a financial value (but not by 2025), which will eliminate the need for copyright enforcement—simply acknowledging the source will be sufficient. A second major problem is accuracy—there is so much misinformation on the Internet today.”

A partner at Prime New York, providing voter-based data for political and government communities, said, “Imagine how now I am now connected to the same information with three distinct, portable devices and three stationery devices. My car, home, office, and other locations will give me the ability to access anyone and anything, anywhere.”

A professor at Rutgers University responded, “It will just keep getting better. The character of the medium is known now. It really is a democratizer.”

A business professional wrote, “The more content we have, the less likely we are to sift through to find the important stuff. There is just so much we are capable of paying attention to in a given day. The threat is we may have a society not paying attention to the real dangers of the world and more to what Kim Kardashian’s kid is wearing.”

A US federal government employee whose work involves Internet policy wrote, “Intellectual property rights issues are unresolved. Privacy issues are unresolved. The reputation of the content originator has not even been recognized (to my knowledge). The Internet generation is a chatty generation, and eventually, they will come to recognize they need to think before they speak (if we are lucky).”

A digital media strategist at a US national news organization responded, “Firewalls, censorship, and other restrictions will continue to expand under the guise of ‘Internet governance’ as more countries around the world try to control what and how their populations access.”

A self-employed attorney wrote, “The most major hindrance is money. First, Internet should be wireless and free—period. Without free and speedy access, the Internet and the digital age will be another divider between the haves and have-nots—especially as more and more traditional knowledge is digitized and as access to so much information will only be available through the Internet. A second aspect of the hindrance of money is the need to pay for the information. Even with free and speedy wireless, who owns the information? How do we make it available? Will everything be subscription-based? Or, will it be paid for by advertising, which gets slicker and renders us less able to discern that from objective information? What information should be free? What should be paid for? Who owns the data when you purchase a download? Do you own the information? Or, do you own the copy to do with what you will?”

An information science professional at a major US school of medicine responded, “Here are the things that will negatively impact finding and using content online: the monetization of the Internet; using online information to restrict people’s life options (as in jobs); and the use of online content to decrease people’s sense of security. Charging for access to everything is high on the list of what will restrict people’s optimal use of digital content.”

An attorney working on digital and library issues for the federal government wrote, “The biggest obstacles will continue to be the proliferation of walled gardens, the cost and business models, including monetization of individuals’ data, privacy and security, and copyright law.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “While I do have a strong hope for a more free and unhindered infrastructure, it seems possible that major actors in the government and corporations could still make decisions that lead to a fragmented, defensive, limited Internet from users’ perspectives. Any choking of the Internet for commercial or censorship purposes will stop the Internet from realizing its fullest potential. The recent move of ICANN to become less American-centric by leaving the United States, as well as President Dilma Rouseff’s declarations that Brazil wants a freer, more open global Internet, bode well for an Internet that does not have backdoors and central choke points.”

A professor at Swarthmore College responded, “We are already seeing hindrances to access and sharing happen. Unless open access succeeds, and digital media companies find a way to more evenly distribute their profits to creators and accept more limited revenues for the parent corporation, much of what is now vibrant culture with mass participation will give way to a more tightly circumscribed culture, in which one has to ‘pay to play,’ one more luxury for the top-earning elite.”

An attorney at a major law firm responded, “The so-called ‘Great Firewall of China’ has been exported to other totalitarian regimes. The arms race between the repressed and their oppressors is not going to stop. The Internet itself was designed to route around censorship, and yet, it does not. The only way to change that would be regime change.”

The director for an e-learning strategies company wrote, “There may still be a digital divide, and we may have continuing confusion over digital rights, but I do not think things will get worse. Free Internet everywhere is what is needed. If people can get it, they can leverage it. If it is priced out of reach, or access is limited, we will minimize the opportunity.”

The director of an information technology innovation foundation wrote, “It is unlikely that things will get worse. Societies may limit access to illegal materials, but this would not make things worse, except for people who want to break the law.”

An associate professor at a university responded, “The sharing of content on the Internet will increase.”

A researcher responded, “As the United States shows it is not a responsible steward, the Internet is fracturing along national interests. The United States and United Kingdom have very different priorities than many of the European Union nations. Asia, Africa, and the Middle East typically have yet different priorities. Latin America may align with Europe. The politics offline are killing the vision of the Internet as a force for democracy and freedom, since the United States is clearly not prioritizing that agenda at the current time. People do not like being shabbily used. That dampens enthusiasm for it. Either we fix the Net with end-to-end encryption, or we watch it become a far poorer place.”

A Web standardization expert wrote, “There is a constant threat of content being forced behind walled gardens, pay walls, artificial technical limitations, non-open platforms, etc.”

A research scientist working at a major search engine company responded, “Pay walls will come and go. Mostly, information providers are looking for ways to keep their information locked up and unavailable to the search engines. When that happens, the days of easy, infinite, free information access are over. This could happen if major sites stop allowing mutual crawling. Examples include: If Amazon blocks Google, if the New York Times blocks Yahoo, etc. This could happen if Wikipedia dies. Opportunities for the future include a great, top-notch conversational agent that melds common-sense reasoning with deep knowledge. Think of it as a combination of IBM’s Watson and Google’s Knowledge Graph with a touch of Wolfram Alpha and Siri thrown in together. That is a killer combo. Challenges for the future include the general level of knowledge about the world and the way it works. I despair daily about how little people know about how things work, and consequently, about how they do (or do not) make reasonable choices based on a deep lack of understanding.”

A webmaster wrote, “Improvements are the norm for the Internet. One day, I hope to see historical records currently maintained by local and county historical societies fully digitized and available for research. Our heritage is valuable.”

A research professor of computer science at Georgetown University responded, “Expect even more limitations, such as TPP and other laws, to ‘protect’ rights marketers (not necessarily the rights holders).”

A senior lecturer at Ohio State University wrote, “Government control in the United States is becoming a disturbing aspect of the online environment. With increasing government surveillance and interference in the lives of private citizens, we can expect less value from the networked experience.”

A digital learning and media specialist and educator responded, “Everyone is looking to monetize their presence on the Web, which may limit the availability of free content on the Web.”

A Syracuse University professor wrote, “There’s just too much value to this information. So many people will be seeking this that people will be paying to have third-party vendors serve as blocks or monitors to their data (think reputation.com but with much more aggressive functionality).”

A technology policy expert wrote, “I do think humans are smart enough to figure out a way around government censors where we know they exist. I also expect, in the next 13 years, that it will become increasingly more difficult for governments to control access to information and communication, and that efforts to do that will fade quickly.”

A professor based at a university in Canada wrote, “I fully expect companies to try implementing stupid and shortsighted DRM schemes for years to come.”

A self-employed entrepreneur and author wrote, “The genie’s out of the bottle. Sharing and access will continue to expand.”

An Internet pioneer and longtime National Science Foundation employee wrote, “A host of government regulation and snooping is already making hindrance to access and sharing happen. TPP will add to this trend.”

A professor at the University of California wrote, “The concept of ‘online’ will have no meaning—‘online’ will be passé. Thanks to sharing and access for all, a major future opportunity will be that the United States cannot continue to be the world’s bully, thank God.”

The dean/provost of a research university, and former CEO of the California Virtual University, wrote, “The only real threat to sharing is security. I expect new challenges to security and new defenses. It will be seesaw process, but I think people will continue to collaborate as they do now. Another challenge is to educate people in multiple cultures and languages, so that collaboration across cultural barriers can be effective. A positive in this future is cultural education—liberal arts without the Western bias. An improvement in the manuals for various devices and programs would help people use them more effectively than they do now.”

The head of the department of communication at a top US university wrote, “There will be changes; I am not sure they will be hindrances. Literacy will permit most to realize the fullest potential of the Internet.”

A collaboration strategist responded, “Smart phones will be more powerful, open source software based slates will become more available, and sensor nets in general will become more pervasive. This means data, often without context (as opposed to XBRL, etc.), so these will be semantically challenging. Many language groups will become more pervasive, so translation will become an even more important offering for niche dialects. At some point, the petro dollar fiat-currency system will shift to CPU-cycle-based currencies. The growth of income disparity will either cause global revolutions or some other form of redress. These larger societal changes will determine who controls the Internet. By 2025, or at some point, the petro-dollar fiat-currency system will shift to CPU-cycle-based currencies (or some other electricity/energy related—solar is ‘free money’ in that world). Distributed computing (BOINC, World Community Grid, etc.) go underutilized. Neighborgood clouds, a la Glenn Ricart of US-Ignite, will follow gigabitification. Results-Only Work Environments will either become adopted and be a Cloud computing boon, or will be avoided and be an economic anchor, which will drag down computing. Growth of the use HPC in the Cloud, platforms like XSEDE, Internet2 (global national research and education networks and interconnects like GLORIAD, DANTE, TEIN); collaborative enablement platforms like researchgate.net, impactstory, banyan, git, mercurial, wikis, YouTube, Vimeo, Yammer, Google Plus, Linkedin groups, Ning, WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, dot net nuke (with more Wave features as bandwidth allows). Continued adoption of various office offerings: Google Docs, Micorosoft Sky Drive, Zimbra, Alfresco (IAAS, PAAS, etc.), VoIP, WebRTC. And distributed manufacturing (see San Leandro http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hGmeofDUKQ).”

A program director focusing on ICT standards policy, Internet Governance, and other issues, wrote, “No—technology will convert terms like ‘work around’ into human DNA. All barriers will be surmountable. What steps are necessary? Either revolution or catastrophe, whether natural or man-made (think of the damage of an electromagnetic pulse).”

A professor at a large public university responded, “Content sharing will increase exponentially as totalitarian governments such as China, Iran, and—god forbid—North Korea, realize the genie is out of the bottle and that they need to let loose of their iron grip on their people. The greatest threat to this freedom is measures like SOPA, which seek to radically limit access to some commercial content. A few years ago, iTunes went a long way toward stopping music piracy (or sharing, as I prefer to call it). Some technology will emerge to do the same for other copyrighted material. In fact, it’s happening already—i.e., Netflix, Hulu, etc.”

The CEO of a software technology company, and active participant in Internet standards development, responded, “Sharing of content is likely to continue and to expand—people are increasingly becoming virtual or remote employees, and this trend will continue.”

An eHealth expert responded, “For sure, more individual-based information will be available. It is hard to tell how this will be used. Hopefully, liberty will not be sacrificed. We should not sacrifice our individual liberties for any expediency, no matter how appealing.”

The COO for a consulting and contract research organization wrote, “People and organizations will find too much value to the technological developments that are possible, and so will be brought about. Information collection, storage, linkage, and dissemination will become dramatically cheaper. A huge increase in transactions of all kinds will take place online.”

The vice president of research and consumer media for a research and analysis firm responded, “It will get worse. Every indication is that corporations and government are bent on increasing IP rights and locking them down with DRM and legal infrastructure. Citizens are insufficiently motivated to secure fair use and other rights. Open-source, creative commons, and other forms of IP will flourish at the margins. There is an excellent chance we could have parallel creative economies. The protected economy will stagnate but remain dominant. The open economy will be faster growing, younger, and more creative.”

A professor at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia wrote, “The capacity for accessing and sharing content will only improve. The biggest problem is the technical limitations of bandwidth. Just as computers kept getting smaller but increasing their memory capacity, I think that technical capacity will improve. That is, however, a hope rather than a technically informed perspective. The digital divide could pose major problems globally if increased content becomes unaffordable.”

The CEO of a mid-sized company that has applied for, and will operate, many new top-level domains, wrote, “It will be easier (and better) to share information online when people are able to choose who they want to share with, and that will happen by 2025. The ‘broadcast to the world’ paradigm is already showing its weaknesses. This will solve the hindrances that exist today: banal content, repetition without new context, and emphasis on information instead of knowledge.”

The principal software architect for a large Internet company wrote, “Governments will increasingly attempt to manage content sharing, which will make it harder for people to communicate and share online. People will increasingly demand privacy improvements. Whether it is encryption of their personal files and communications, or a demand for encrypted cloud services, the risks of ‘over-sharing’ are going to become better understood. Today’s Internet is a massive surveillance machine for companies and governments. Tomorrow’s Internet, hopefully, will be more oriented toward human needs.”

A senior lecturer at the University of California wrote, “The biggest threat is that copyright is starting to be taken as a ‘right,’ rather than what it is supposed to be: a bargain between creators and the public, for the benefit of the public. DMCA, TPP, etc., are the means implementing this shift.”

A researcher and graduate student wrote, “If and when the governments step in to regulate the online interactions, it will become common sense to be more cautious. Anonymous comments will not be allowed.”

A principal engineer for Cisco wrote, “First, there will be balkanization by national and regional control. Second, there will be government censorship, often disguised as ‘protection’ for children and ‘privacy right.’ I also predict a DRM-arms race around immersive content. Unlike static media, like music or video, continuous and bidirectional interaction offers fewer opportunities to deliver an alternative, pirated version of content.”

A leader of learning and performance systems at Pennsylvania State University responded, “Hackers and ill-intentioned people are the biggest threat. If we have people who are largely satisfied with their lives and prefer to be ethical in their dealings, then it is likely that we will have very little significant threats to information and content access. So, this means that what we think of as the suicide bombers and extremists of today will move online unless we figure out a way to see some equalization of ‘the good life’ some of us in the developed world enjoy. At that point, extremism disappears. I think we will begin to do a much better job of really organizing the Internet so that the clunky searching we do today, and even the skills surrounding much of our search practices today, will be outdated by 2025.”

A tenure track professor at a US research university said, “The most damaging possibilities lie in the potential interactions between legislation and security technologies. By creating policies that limit people’s ability to share and contribute content, or that require authentication for security purposes, organizations may severely curtail possibilities for creation and collaboration.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “Yes, things will change for the worse. There will be increasing censorship.”

A university research fellow wrote, “Bandwidth will be limited in the same the way the power supply is now. The cost in the United States must come down. Buildings will be hard-wired, and Wi-Fi will be done up and thought about in the same ways water and sewage are: as necessities.”

A pioneering academic computer scientist from Princeton University wrote, “There will be negative changes, as governments and companies try to control and limit access for their own reasons. But on the whole, users will have greater access, as the basic economics of information will overpower the attempts at control. Users will find ways to get the information they want, and for-profit and nonprofit enterprises will give them the tools to do so.”

An anonymous respondent who works as a journalist wrote, “I will bet digital rights management (DRM) will not ruin everything, but it is not a confident bet. Ditto global ‘national security’ controls both for political ends and ‘making the Internet safe for children.’ The biggest challenge is keeping open a decentralised opportunity to innovate in the face of large corporations trying to lock in captive markets.”

A CEO wrote, “The Web is a disintermediation machine. By its nature, it smashes ‘hindrances.’ The only negative scenario there is would be that it also disintermediates the disintermediators. Entropy favors no one.”

The director of IT for the New York Academy of Medicine, a nonprofit specializing in urban health issues, responded, “What is stopping people now? If people want to share information online, they can find a way to do it. In the future, the challenges will be a lack of privacy and the growing fear that there will be unanticipated consequences from one’s actions online. This leads to self-censorship. There will also be too much commercialization. There will also continue to be a lack of high-speed Internet. These are all bad things that will stop people from realizing the Internet’s potential.”

A principal engineer at Cisco wrote, “Mechanisms for managing content will only improve as the market responds to consumers. Increased bandwidth and storage capacity will allow for local pre-caching of content, and that will provide a better experience.”

A social entrepreneur dedicated to increasing opportunities for people with disabilities wrote, “Yes—between governmental and corporate controls, free expression and other human rights will become greatly handicapped. This is already happening, but it will be more evident for those who remember the 1990s around the 2020s.”

A researcher at a marketing firm doing work in the online privacy space responded, “Getting and sharing content online will be substantially easier in 2025 than it is now. Security is getting better, software is becoming easier to use, and bandwidth is becoming greater. The challenge is capacity to fully be aware of everything that is available. Even now, I am sure there are tools that I am missing out on. I know that most of the time, if there is a service I am looking for, I can usually Google it and find information, and it makes me wonder, ‘What else is out there?’”

The president of a technology consulting company wrote, “The most significant threat to content sharing is perceptions of privacy and security. Dummy policies and/or policies with loopholes will be created to address this perception of the general population and to ensure that content is shared and that what is shared is accessible by governments.”

A professor at a major US research university wrote, “More people will be connected—and more consistently so. The digital divide will not disappear—within or across countries.”

A professor at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain, responded, “Will we take a turn for the worse? Let us hope not. People will manage to improve the way in which the apparent chaos of big data, the huge amount of an apparent, informally organized mountain of information, is presented: libraries and archives, for instance, private, and, especially, public—i.e., historical knowledge.”

A director of a futures-oriented program based at the Georgia Institute of Technology responded, “There are several dimensions to this question; among them are: economics—what are the costs associated with increased availability, use, and requirements of communication technologies; regulatory—the increasing assertion of intellectual property rights is a major barrier to innovation and might result in the increased use of unofficial, less traceable networks for diffusion and sharing of online content.”

A former chair of an IETF working group wrote, “Corporate influence on the political process will largely eliminate the public’s freedom to do as they please on the Internet, at least in the United States. I would like to see the Internet come to be regarded as a public utility, as broadcast spectrum was, but I think the concentration of power is too extreme for that degree of freedom to happen.”

A US university professor wrote, “More games and related apps will encourage deeper connections.”

An expert on law, politics, and technology wrote, “People will continue sharing, but they will have to learn what kind of content is not advisable to share, as well as which contents are preferable.”

The grants coordinator at academic center for digital inclusion wrote, “Increasing privatization of networks will eliminate wide usage of the Internet; effective global policies will be as elusive as world peace.”

An assistant professor at a US university wrote, “The future will be highly dependent on the ways the world communities and governments collaborate to create secure spaces for the citizenry. The most serious threats are, of course, those of piracy. Diversifying one’s information across broad networks can ensure more safety, but if those networks are connected in other ways, we will need to have more broad policies and actions to implement secure networks. So, for instance, if everything I use is on Amazon’s S3, then am I really protected if that is able to be breached, even if I am using different services that use it as their infrastructure? I expect that collaboration will become the foundation of everything. When we can engage, interact, and transcend arbitrary governmental boundaries to think about more encompassing issues (global warming, poverty, hunger, etc.), and do it with many different people from different areas, we can harness innovative solutions. This would mean that we might no longer need the wealth to create change, but merely the connections to do so.”

A professor at the iSchool at the University of British Columbia responded, “Open access, anyone? I do not at all see a scenario where content sharing will be diminished. The primary future negative will be the continuous cost of retooling: new devices, upgraded devices, and the learning curve for new devices.”

A college professor wrote, “Speed will probably keep up with demand by means of continuing innovations in technology; however, increased access to the Internet will not be any sort of great advantage to the species. People will become too overwhelmed with the complexities of life, the encroachment of technology, and distraction and confusion, to be able to make sense or use of anything on the computer. They will increasingly rely on computers and other machines/machine-like measures to make decisions for them, and that will not be a good thing.”

A professor of ICT and social sciences at the University of California wrote, “The changes will be for the better, in terms of accessing and sharing content, and in the number of people able to do so. They will be for the worse on other criteria, such as privacy. And, there will be increased penalties for those who, for economic, political, or educational reasons, cannot access the Internet.”

An anti-spam and security architect wrote, “Legislative curbs on free speech are about the only thing that can stop people, and even then, things may be driven underground is all. The future positives will come in education and connecting the last billion Net users.”

A PhD student in communication wrote, “With the acceptance and increasing popularity of the concept of Internet access as a human right, I do not think things will get any harder, overall, than they are now. Of course, this is a broad statement—there will always be areas in the world that try to limit the amount of access their citizens have to the Internet—but overall, we are seeing a rise in global governance structures, NGOs, and citizen action pushing for open access to the Internet.”

The CEO of an ISP serving Wyoming since 1994, wrote, “The general population seems to expect that buying an Internet device should provide them with entitlements to using the device. As the volume of traffic increases to include massive quantities of video, the transport and servers will become clogged, and people will be reluctant to pay for the necessary infrastructure. The screaming over bandwidth caps is just beginning. Fiber optics will become the essential link to maximize the experience. The haves and have-nots will diverge.”

The owner of a small publishing and consulting business wrote, “Things will get better gradually over time.”

A retired software engineer and IETF participant responded, “The trends in intellectual property regimes, exacerbated by the centralization of power in corporations, will continue to erode the fair use doctrine. Corporations will increasingly claim ownership of intellectual property produced by their customers, who will in fact be exploited as unpaid workers. A complete and fundamental reform of US patent, copyright, and trademark law would be a start to a better future.”

A professor at a major US business school responded, “Government censorship and related filtering is the biggest threat to international sharing of information.”

A top administrator at a leading global technology company wrote, “Walled gardens—the establishment of inaccessible, separate ‘islands’ of the Internet, or steep pay walls—and the use of appliances with locked applications, will increase the overall security of the Internet while limiting the ability for new protocols and innovation.”

A doctoral student at the Free University of Berlin wrote, “Unfortunately, I believe governments are going to increase their efforts in control of online communication using a variety of ‘invasive’ tools, such as deep packet inspection (DPI).”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “Sharing information continues to become easier, but not sharing has become more difficult in the ways online companies use and mine data and create obstacles to restraining the use of information by others, including corporations and their state, as well as corporate clients who pay for data. This surveillance and data mining is the obstacle for some because it could jeopardize for example human rights defenders who need to use rights-based-frameworks to protect themselves from the state. This is why the ongoing discussion of the UN resolution on privacy in the digital age is important.”

A professional who works for a nonprofit working to close the digital divide wrote, “There will be a proliferation of illuminated spaces.”

The co-founder of a consultancy with practices in Internet technology responded, “The United States would benefit from intellectual property laws that better address the distinction between an idea and its embodiment, as digital expressions of ideas are very different from physical expressions. Legislation will always influence the way we create and share content online, but it is unlikely to create a huge change in a system we have adopted and depend on as-is. The next phase of fully-realized Internet use is the generation coming into mature adulthood around 2025—the World Wide Web ascended to the public eye in 1995, and kids born then will be thirty in 2025, fully immersed in the World Wide Web, and regarding the Internet much as our generation regarded the television, video cameras, and the telephone dial tone.”

A top leader of the Internet Society wrote, “Accessing and sharing content online will get better—not worse.”

The general counsel for an Internet domain name registry wrote, “People will find ways around censorship; however, growing disparities in income will lead to social unrest.”

A professor at the University of California-Berkeley wrote, “Speech recognition and language translation will be much better than they are today, so that will make sharing and accessing things easier; however, the current revelations about government spying and weakening of encryption destabilize the international trust in the integrity of the Internet and make its future governance more uncertain. The current comment climate, in which any statement outside the norm can result in a tsunami of negative, vicious personal attacks, complete with death threats, Facebook pages calling for the person’s firing, and the rest, is very likely reducing many people’s willingness to take an unpopular stance online. This is the single biggest problem with open discussion online today.”

The chief scientist at a Fortune 50 technology company responded, “The desire of many countries to control traffic in and out of their borders will inevitably restrict data flow.”

A professor at George Washington University wrote, “Viruses, worms, phishing, and identity theft may be worse in the future, particularly if it proves to be profitable. More police activity and aids to consumers (e.g., managing passwords) are needed. I expect happy outcomes, including continued sharing and access to information, which will aid the Internet. The unhappy outcomes are likely—including scams and identify theft—and will hurt the image of the Internet.”

The chief executive of one of the key Internet infrastructure organizations responded, “In the future, users will have a wide variety of mechanisms and tools for sharing information.”

A member of the Internet Society chapter in Costa Rica wrote, “Privacy will become an integral part of the optimization function, and we should be better off. There will be a self-check on the quality of the public services they receive.”

A director of networking and applications predicted, “It will get better as more content providers (read: end users) start uploading quality content. The means of content production will be democratized, and that will have profound impacts on the industry. Content creation tools will improve. Bandwidth (especially upstream bandwidth) will increase. Service providers will grow sick of negotiating with today’s content providers and will open up sharing/content aggregation opportunities for the rest of us.”

A Mozilla browser engineer wrote, “It is always going to be made easier to share information with others. This may become a regulatory issue, of course, as self-assembled goods become more widely available.”

A top engineer for a major US company and longtime Internet architect wrote, “I foresee no hindrances, thanks to competition. The future will be a tussle between the old and the new, and something will emerge.”

A telecommunications and Internet policy professional working for a Japanese nonprofit, semi-academic research center, wrote, “Economics will change. There will be more value in sharing than in restricting/closing off access. The challenge will be corporations allowing IP lawyers to dictate how content is used, rather than their creative staff.”

An anonymous survey participant wrote, “The Internet changes second by second; ask a question online now, and you get different answers to same question five minutes later. Trust will become an issue, as well as being able to find anything. The Internet is like a massive untidy office in which there are multiple filing systems that no one uses properly.”

A senior researcher at a leading British university observed, “Why would we expect people to share less easily? The trend is in the opposite direction.”

A consumer advocate wrote, “Short of a major economic crisis, it is hard to see how connectivity could degrade over the next twelve years. Countries with national broadband plans will have an advantage over those relying on the market alone.”

A creative strategist wrote, “We will be able to share objects, tangible assets, digitally.”

The research director at a technology trade association wrote, “Some individual countries may increasingly seek to create their own nationally-constrained Internets in order to shape opinion and limit access to information. This is not a universal break with current practice, but it is worrisome. Online sharing will remain widespread, although the specific providers of online sharing tools will find their demographic distribution shifting—as selected tools are viewed as the province of disfavored populations (is it ‘fogey-book,’ not Facebook?). Just as today, the functional aspects of the Internet will be split between entertainment, information, and productivity-enhancing applications.”

A senior consultant for user experience for Forum One Communications said, “I do not see things going backwards. This proverbial horse is out of the barn. People have, and will, continue to find ways to share, even in environments where there is explicit control of various forms.”

The technology director for a major global news provider responded, “A lack of transparency will be the principal limitation of an advanced information age. Access and sharing should expand, unless it becomes more risky than it is worth to users. Being able (and willing) to share information beyond the social realm will be important to people’s understanding, along with adoption of powerful new digital tools and services. It may take a breakthrough in the healthcare field for this to take root. Imagine having a connection with your health care provider that is akin to your personal setup on Amazon or Google.”

A professor of law at an East Coast university in the US wrote, “Someone wiser than me once said, ‘The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.’ The genius of the Internet has been the absence of central control over information sharing. Both governments and business would really like that to be otherwise, and they are doing everything they can to turn the online environment into a walled garden. But, it will not work because most people do not want it to work.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “It will be better—see, for instance, the open-access movement in science.”

An anonymous survey participant wrote, “I see access and sharing expanding, but only if we speed broadband for all countries. A challenge is lowering cost of broadband and increasing speeds.”

An administrator for technology-focused units in educational nonprofits responded, “Attempts by repressive governments or groups to limit access are the most serious threats to accessing and sharing information on the Internet. So, also, is unlawful collection of information by government(s) a threat to general information access, if people feel threatened by unlawful surveillance and act to tighten the lid on everything. The more information that is created for sharing and use in public spaces, the more opportunities will be available for all, including having more activities that differentiate beneficially between open (free) information and closed (not free or restricted use) information.”

A PhD candidate in information sciences and technology observed, “Fifteen years ago, we would never have assumed that we would be able to pay a small monthly fee to stream ‘all you can eat’ content online the way we do now. Consequently, I only see this option intensifying.”

A CEO for a company that builds intelligent machines for personal finance wrote, “I foresee two big issues: ownership and access. Some things that are shared are owned by someone else, and it is currently within the rights of owners to protect what they own. I expect that, so long as the idea of the monetizing of artifacts that can be shared exists, we will always have problems with copyright and patents. This will be exacerbated in 2025, as all items we can imagine as sharable become so. Internet access is not equally distributed globally, and the poorest of in every country will never have access to it. This problem will compound in 2025, creating generations of Internet-illiterate people, who will never be able to create a better life for themselves because access to the tools has been denied them.”

A professor at Stanford Law School wrote, “Governments will continue to try to block access to information, but that effort will be futile.”

A leader for the Monitor Institute wrote, “Access and sharing will stay the same. Some things will be easy to find, collaboratively maintained, and sharable. Some items will remain behind a walled garden, with access limited to those with special privileges or the ability to pay.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “This will necessarily remain a cat-and-mouse issue. People will continue to attempt to be social as they please. Governments will be wise or otherwise in letting them do so. So, there will be hindrances, but there will be countermeasures. Knowing which will predominate where cannot be readily anticipated. The network is a surveillance device, as are many technologies.”

An entrepreneur and electrical engineer active in ACM and IEEE wrote, “There are vested interests that will do their best to prevent the sharing of content, but despite legislative and regulatory support, they are unlikely to have major success. There will always be paths around the hindrances.”

An executive at a top-level domain name operator responded, “It is hard to imagine US policymakers putting the online genie back in the bottle—especially in a system dominated by well-funded special interests.”

An Internet Engineering Task Force participant, who is in the top 50 employees in a networking company that employs 75,000, responded, “I cannot imagine anything that would happen to roll back today’s access.”

A technology writer predicted, “Sharing media will get a lot saner and easier. Basic economics of the doubling or tripling those online with broadband access will overwhelm the draconian control mentality. Media companies will eventually realize that at least a little sharing is a good thing and will actively support it. Companies such as Netflix are showing the way, and eventually, everyone will see that offering low-cost, reasonable controls is a profitable model for producing content can work. DVDs, cable television, and DRM will all simply fail in the face of the ‘Netflix model.’”

An assistant professor at a US university wrote, “I do not think there will be hindrances for sharing. I think it will become even easier to do so; however, the hindrances and issues will arise based on the content shared.”

A university professor predicted, “There will be more and more sophisticated hindrances to be paralleled by achievements in hindering or blocking the hindrances. Nobody can predict the way in which Internet and Internet related technologies will develop ten years from now.”

A freelance editor and writer responded, “Again, it depends on people. If they work together, much can continue to be done. Political corruption can be brought to attention more easily, but it also can be used the wrong way to gain power.”

A self-described “social innovation orphan,” noted, “Whatever hindrances arise, people now are driven to share via some form of technical medium, and people will route around whatever issues come up. If corporations have too heavy a hand in developing the standards and protocols, it will seriously harm the potential—even of their own incomes. When we all realize that helping people is what makes things work—that will help technologies reach more of their potential. When we get away from the design for greedy, rational, individual actors and instead design for altruistic humans that sometimes form large organizations that are greedy and in small ways—rational.”

A private law firm partner specializing in telecom and Internet regulatory issues stated, “I think it will get easier to share stuff online. I suspect that, by 2025, the general scope of enforceable copyright will decline, and people will be able to do more things with online data. Getting there will not be pretty.”

A vice president for experience innovation at a mid-size company posed, “Why would there be any hindrances?”

A professor, academic, sociologist, and early Internet scholar, observed, “The major threat to all liberties on the Internet is the urge of corporations to control content and its uses. What is the potential, when, and to whom? I certainly do not expect it to be in the spirit of the 1990s, when the Internet became big—that spirit has been killed, if making money is all that counts.”

A university professor wrote, “Copyright laws and practices will finally evolve and make it easier to legally share and access content.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “Sharing will grow in importance, but it may not be free to the user. As higher quality (more secure, more sophisticated) sharing becomes possible, it may become a significant service sector of its own.”

A networking engineer employed by a large cable television company stated, “Intellectual property rights need to be overhauled by a generation that understands the Internet—one that grew up using it. The focus needs to be on attribution of the original artist, so that credit (and money, where applicable) flows where credit is due, while still allowing for fair use. The large content providers (TV, movie production houses, music production, etc.) are still fighting to preserve their monopoly on content creation, distribution, and profit. That model is going to break; it is just a question of when, as well as how much, DRM and wrong-headed anti-piracy legislation will have to be broken first.”

A policy advisor for EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit whose mission is to advance IT in higher education, predicted, “Information retrieval and synthesis will only continue to improve. As the Internet becomes more pervasive in our everyday lives, we will be less aware that it even exists, as it will become a part of almost everything we do.”

The digital editor for a major global news organization responded, “No, I do not think things will get worse. There will be a wider range of choices and new possibilities. But ease of access is likely to increase, and so will bandwidth. The trend in both cases is clear. The elephant in the room here is literacy, which is the main impediment to 100% global connectivity (not network access, which already covers around 90% of the population).”

The chief scientist for a major provider of business networking solutions wrote, “The attempts at balkanization will grow as a result of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, and the effects of such balkanizations will be felt and learnt from. Attempts by mobile operators to create end-to-end control will also fail. Similarly, publisher-level and ISP-level attempts at censorship will be seen to fail. Copyright, patent, and intellectual property law will finally be overhauled. In effect, the Internet will continue to route around obstacles.”

A thought leader and principal at a major futures consultancy, predicted, “We will go to a more curated world of accessing and sharing information. Those growing up with the Internet today are fully fluent and think the way the Internet behaves.”

The leader of a university-based international school of management observed, “The battle to limit the Internet is underway. There will always be a divide between open societies and governments that allow their people freedoms to express themselves, as well as those countries that want to limit what their citizens can think and express. The Internet is designed to allow anyone who is connected to contact anyone else who is also connected. This basic ability is what gives the Internet its power. That power can be used and abused, and while there may be a need to prevent the abuse, the principle of anyone connecting anyone must always be protected.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “We will get better at it, and we will stop using stupid ways to socially network—dumb design that matches the ambitions of companies and governments, rather than users themselves. Users will be smarter and more capable in the future and will grow more frustrated with the idiotic designs, settings, and lack of flexibility in systems.”

A self-employed digital consultant wrote, “Everything is fine—people are clever. If the systems fail to rise to the challenge of satisfying human needs and desires, then the system will evolve or die—people should not be required to change. They are in control.”

A New York University professor explained, “In general, I think ‘content’ is like water and will find a way to spill out of its constraints.”

An anonymous survey participant, who works as a cyber-security policy strategist and consultant, predicted, “The Internet will become more Balkanized. This will allow for international communication, but it will not be as obvious or as much the default as our communications are today, or were in the past. The greatest opportunities come from generative affordable technologies that are widely distributed. The greatest detriment to the Internet we would hope to see is a failure to develop international norms.”

An activist leader wrote, “Sharing will be less exciting, and networks will be narrower and more personalized. The biggest challenge will be literacy and translation—voice might meet that.”

An academic leader at the University of Maryland School of Information Studies responded, “I think that would depend on the nature of the content. The impediments to sharing entertainment (movies, TV shows, music, etc.) are more legal, or protocol incompatibility limitations, than they are purely technical. The lack of global standards has made it difficult to move between the United States, Europe, and Asia. I do not see this getting significantly easier over the next decade. The plurality of personal and societal goals makes it impossible to even understand what is meant by ‘the fullest potential’ of anything. One serious impediment facing the United States is the decentralization and limited role of the federal government, which limits the capacity and connectivity of the Internet. For example, the limited investment in fiber-to-the-home has maintained a crippling ‘last mile’ barrier.”

A director at Defense Distributed responded, “The Internet is Balkanizing, despite attempts to centralize. Content acquisition and production will trend with a global decrease in the costs of cultural production.”

An anonymous respondent, who works as the CEO for a technology company wrote, “I do not see any major threat in the exchange of content. Most of the content will be hosted locally on people devices as the infrastructure at the edge of the mobile network becomes bigger than the fix infrastructure.”

A university professor wrote, “A balkanized Internet will be more difficult to use. No amount of trust-building commitments can reverse that trend.”

An associate professor of history at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, noted, “Major hindrances include privatization, commercialization, and arbitrary state control of the Internet. Legislation that redefines the Internet as a public space would help, though may not happen. At the same time, piracy and extralegal sharing services, such as torrent, will likely continue to exist and expand. To realize its full potential, the Internet, as a medium and infrastructure (cables, etc.), has to be redefined, legislated, and maintained as a public domain, where freedom of speech operates fully. Access to the Internet should be guaranteed globally, in the same way as education, healthcare, food, and housing are guaranteed now in some countries.”

An Internet engineer, machine-intelligence researcher, and concerned citizen, observed, “There is a national balkanization of policy. Copyright law, national security interests, misguided legislation to regulate morality (censorship), and, in general, restrictive commercial ownership and profit taking are all threats to freedom of access to information. There are also peripheral threats: barriers to Internet access, user-unfriendly technology, and illiteracy. Content, as they say, is king. There will be far more content available by 2025, much of it mass produced and of low value. High value content will be controlled by the larger, profit-taking organizations. The Semantic Web will, if not co-opted by commercial interests, provide improved access to relevant information.”

An anonymous respondent said, “The threats will come from companies protecting their IP through increasingly draconian extensions to copyright, patent, and other applicable legal regimes. Ending Net neutrality will be a serious threat. Legal challenges will have to be successful. Education will be important, as will the extension of broadband. Easy, low-cost access will also be important.”

A professor specializing in information studies at the University of Toronto predicted, “[There will be issues regarding] digital literacy levels, threats to our personal privacy, and a culture of openness, where openness does not necessarily translate to creative/authentic content and communication.”

A professional designer of technological systems noted, “The question is, how can the Internet allow us to maintain our human qualities? It is a little like the ‘uncanny valle.’ Internet processes will evolve to match our human qualities, rather than us having to distort or humanness to fit the Internet.”

A research fellow at the Global Cities Research Institute at RMIT University responded, “A perhaps radical view is that, in advanced capitalist democracies that have hit technological ‘tipping points,’ power is sufficiently decentralized, such that no single actor, including the nation state, can significantly inhibit possibilities for communication; however, ‘optimal future capabilities,’ in my view, relate less to technological affordance and more to the collective social capabilities of those who would take advantage of it. This is a far more open question, to which I try to respond further below. A very important aspect of recent technologically informed cultures is the degree to which the traditional bifurcation between Snow’s two cultures of ‘the sciences and the humanities’ tends to be dissolved—and this has great potential for the communicative possibilities of the Internet to be realised. On the other hand, for reasons I am not entirely clear about, recent retrogressive scepticism on topics like climate change show that availability of information is a necessary but vastly insufficient condition for improving both the content and form of public discourse. One hopeful possibility is that we are still in the very initial phases of relating to a truly global and immediate mechanism for producing and consuming public communication, one which encourages infantile ‘call-and-response’ forms of dialogue (marked by ad hominem attacks, aversion to rigorous scientific inquiry and critique, trolling, and astro-turfing). Possibly, we are not yet ready for this avenue of technology we have developed, and a more mature sensibility (in Kant’s sense, as he described the cultural maturation embedded in the historical process of the Enlightenment) will ultimately evolve, precisely through the exercising (and exorcising) of our current exuberance.”

A senior staff member for one of the leading Internet standards organizations stated, “The information exchange valve has been opened and cannot be closed, in my opinion; the pressure is too strong now. The biggest opportunity is the realization by all users that the openness of the technologies used for communication is the most important thing they need to keep in the evolution. Today, people care little about the nature of the system they use, like proprietary Apple and Microsoft, versus more open Linux, as well as others.”

A self-employed programmer and Web-developer wrote, “I have answered ‘no’ simply because humans have an uncanny way to get around idiotic barriers.”

A graduate research assistant, who works as a futurist at a major US university, predicted, “By 2025, we should not expect there to be a single global Internet, if there is one at all. Rather, regional or national Internets are likely to be prevalent. Language barriers, human and machine, will likely influence who can access different networks, as well as how they can be accessed. Instead of blocking these changes, the development of several Internets should be encouraged not only to help spur innovation, but because these Internets may better serve their users. For example, Google currently serves the United States well but does not do as well in Asia. Asian-grown services serve people living in Asia better and should be allowed to do so.”

A university professor responded, “As everything is monitored, it will be harder to escape the forms of regulation that are built into the code and into the regulatory infrastructure. Just as computers today can check in to ensure that the software they are running has been properly licensed, much the same will take place with regard to content that is shared and accessed online.”

A law professor at a state university wrote, “The biggest threats are proprietary control of content and data. Privacy also restricts access, though largely for good reasons.”

A principal engineer with a major technology company, and member of the Internet Society Advisory Council, stated, “The Internet is likely to turn into a series of ‘walled gardens,’ with large commercial interests breaking through here and there. It will not be privacy concerns that cause this—in fact, just the opposite. It will be because governments will decide the information the gatekeepers are collecting on their citizens is too valuable a source of social control to leave to those gatekeepers, so they will want to contain that information within their borders. This will cause efforts like those of India and China to build ‘walls,’ around their ‘piece of the Internet,’ allowing the big players, who will learn to cooperate, to pass through, while blocking the smaller players. This will, of course, bring innovation in many areas to a standstill and could lead to the ‘next big thing,’ something that rides on top of the Internet as we know it, making the Internet into dial tone. The alternative is for some supranational organization, such as the United Nations, to take control of all this information in some way, but this does not appear to be too likely at this point (though it is possible—it just doesn’t seem likely).”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “Things will get easier.”

The president of the Internet and Mobile Association of India predicted, “More Internet will flow through proprietary mobile networks, which are region-specific and under a national license. This may have an adverse impact on the OTTs.”

A research and development professional for a major software organization predicted, “Governments will attempt to install filtration, blocking, and differential services to encourage control of unwanted content. Enhancing IETF and disrupting ITU management is necessary but will not happen.”

A researcher at a small Internet user-consulting firm wrote, “Security advances will make it possible for individuals and corporations to access significant technology advances.”

An employee of the government of a State in Europe, also involved in Internet-based research and teaching, responded, “If we do not live in a 1984-ish environment, we will have new ways of collaboration in all areas (i.e., art, music, video, technology, research, science, etc.), and there will be a way to share the profits fairly and in away that will support the people who created the content—maybe some big companies [will] lose ground, but the individual contributor will gain—police methods will not succeed to stop creativity. The opportunities will come in finding ways to aggregate knowledge to, for example, identify the cure for diseases based on traditional medicine or plants from other continents.”

A past member of IEEE and ACM responded, “As companies managing ‘the Cloud’ (offering some Cloud-related service to their customers) will take more liberties with their users’/customers’ data, there will be less privacy and much less security.”

A research fellow at Danube University Krems in Austria stated, “We need to ensure that all scientific research, results, and literature is made available—i.e., Open Access, so that all can read the advances and work on it. In addition, [it is necessary] students, universities, institutions with smaller funds can also access this literature. This would ensure that new ideas and further developments are worked on, instead of all working on the same things and re-inventing the wheel. This would make teaching and research more fun. Open access will help people realise the potential. Limits will be imposed by fears that personal data will be abused.”

A university-employed researcher and teacher wrote, “Content sharing will increase, but the form will change. Video and photos will dominate. Text will be less important.”

An engineer at an Internet company noted, “The two more serious threats are state censorship (already widespread, in dictatorships, of course, but also in most democratic countries) and private censorship. For the latter, the biggest problem is probably cleaning of content to avoid trouble (i.e., Facebook censoring bare breasts, Amazon shutting down Wikileaks) and, of course, the incredible power of the entertainment industry. A new rise of peer-to-peer technologies may help to counter these threats. But, technology alone cannot solve everything.”

A professor at Aoyama Gakuin University responded, “In regard to user-generated content or commercial content, things should get easier because that is what people expect, and that is where the money is (for commercial content). But, this still needs work.”

An information scientist for a nonprofit research organization stated, “I expect some combination of ‘brand’ or automation will emerge to provide editorial judgment. The issue is finding value in a flood of information. I find that too many people are saying the same things, and I expect this to consolidate. There also seems to be a willingness to recognize the value of curation and pay for it, based on the New York Times’ experience.”

A PhD who works in developing ICT policy for social development and democracy said, “I am still dreaming of taking a photo (and share, if I like) with a blink of my eye. Maybe [that will be made possible] by 2025.”

A technologist working in Internet policy responded, “It seems it will only ever increase, unless there are many fewer humans, which is not what will happen by 2025. The Internet must remain open and free if we are to hope to survive the inevitable incorporation of computation and networking into the human body, as individuals, and as a society.”

A leader with the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill observed, “Open access continues to gain ground. The real key is an educated populace that can sift through all the noise. Opportunities are in education and critical thinking; challenges lie in short-term greed and power suppressing access.”

A professor at Widener University wrote, “Technology should make things better.”

The director of creative services for a nonprofit in Washington, DC, responded, “We have to look at social, political, and environmental issues in concert with questions like this. Will there be enough potable water? Will certain governments maintain stability? Will we evolve towards peaceful co-existence together? If you are a pessimist like myself, you would say no, there are massive problems coming. And with them, our ability to get and share content (including basic information) may be threatened.”

The principal research scientist at a university-affiliated research center predicted, “Pay walls and privacy-infringing ‘specials’ will significantly increase the cost of information on the Internet. Fully anonymous services will offer the highest potential for users.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “The most serious threats to accessing and sharing content will be centered on security. Mindsets and governments need to change vis-à-vis infrastructure development, investment promotion, and allowing citizens greater access to Internet infrastructure.”

A senior policy adviser for a major US Internet service provider responded, “Content sharing, consistent with the wishes and appropriate controls on the part of the creators and their agents, will grow as monetization tools improve. The biggest threat to the realization of the Internet’s fullest potential will be authoritarian and protectionist governments. The balkanization of the Internet, threatened by some of the world’s leading nations, and fueled by the behavior of the NSA, poses a major threat to maximizing the Internet’s global social and economic value.”

A network scientist for BBN Technologies explained, “There is a significant risk here, mainly driven by the possibility that governments’ desire to control what happens in the network will drive the network to lose its global, end-to-end character; however, there is so much economic interest in the flat-global network we already have, that I think it is more likely that there will be some pockets of degraded connectivity (i.e., China, some Arab states, etc.), than any other global impact.”

A business school professor predicted, “The hindrances will fail—for most people in most places. Governments and content owners will create lots of roadblocks that affect a significant number of users, but overall, the pressure for sharing is unstoppable.”

A university professor specializing in digital journalism predicted, “The distance between the hyperconnected and data-valued, versus the non-connected and low-data value consumers, will increase. Governments will move faster than individuals to increase citizen surveillance. Private companies in the United States will be allowed to decide which content travels down their pipes. Science, technology, as well as math, education, and rural connectivity across the globe, will help people realize the potential of the Internet.”

A researcher for a major US technology company wrote, “I expect sharing to get easier, not harder. The challenge will be to get the world’s poor on the Internet in a meaningful way that helps them.”

A minority rights advocate, and media analyst, teacher, and journalist, warned, “There had better be new ways to filter and manage the content and create backup systems when the flow is interrupted.”

A journalist, editor, and leader of an online news organization, responded, “Yes and no: the big companies will try to manipulate the sharing of content and will have some success. But, there will also be trust mechanisms that rely on crowds and trusted agents. I worry that ubiquitous, always-on networking will be a requirement for full participation in society, but will be throttled by a profit-hungry corporate cartel.”

A general manager for Microsoft responded, “Despite the angst around Internet governance and content access at present, the current situation has demonstrable benefits that will be very difficult to eliminate. We will continue to see complaints about content, culture, etc., and, perhaps, even some regulations aimed at restricting some forms of content, but in my view, those will be in the minority, and we will likely be sharing even more content globally in 2025 than we are now.”

A freelance technology writer and editor for leading US publications responded, “This one should be ‘yes-and-no.’ Thanks to China and other free speech suppressors, we have seen that the Internet can be corked, but we have also seen how easily it can be uncorked. Britain is now in the process of limiting the most profitable vertical on the Web: pornography. It remains to be seen how effective that strategy will be. I think fear about identity theft and terrorism will prompt some efforts to limit access, too, but I think they will see only marginal success. A bigger hindrance is likely to be to the ways service providers want to throttle access and impose a sliding fee. I am watching the effect of things like the Internet2 Network and the idea of verticalized networks. The Net neutrality movement is going to have some impact. I suppose that in the end, it will all be about demand.”

An Internet business consultant predicted, “The copyright cartel will find more ways to milk digital content, and they will adopt sharing but somehow charge for it. The fullest potential will be in 3D hologram-like depictions beamed into the living room.”

 An anonymous respondent observed, “I cannot imagine what else people can share online that they are not sharing now, but somebody will figure out. Home automation has much to be developed. There will be applications tied closer to geo-referential and multimedia data gathered by mobile (and wearable) devices.”

A professor of communication at the University of Southern California, and well-known researcher of Internet uses and users, responded, “I am putting my bet on the affirmative side as much as a matter of blind faith as anything else, but I am concerned about a range of issues here—from the Filter Bubble problem to the Great Firewalls. I am also concerned about copyright enforcement as a means of censoring remix content, as well as of various mechanisms that seek to commodify user-generated content or professionalize the kinds of content circulated through video-sharing platforms. So, the dangers are high. But that said, I have spent my life advocating for and struggling to achieve a more participatory culture. I see signs that media producers at all levels—from fully amateur to the semiprofessional, the nonprofit, the educational, the religious, etc.—are learning how to use these tools and platforms effectively to reach their desired constituencies, and we are seeing much greater and freer flows of media content across national borders than ever before. These groups are not going to give up these options without a fight, and they may be very effective at challenging other interests, as we saw, for example, in the SOPA battles a few years ago. I talk about a more participatory culture because it is clear that the benefits of the online world are not uniformly spread within our society or across the globe. There are still multiple kinds of participation gaps that make it impossible for many to meaningfully participate in the opportunities that are opening up. These gaps start with access to technological infrastructure, but extend to access to skills, knowledge, time, money, freedom, etc., all of which are walls we will need to work past before the ‘fullest potential of the Internet’ is going to be achieved.”

An anonymous Internet engineer predicted, “The whack-a-mole nature of the Internet will continue unabated. Digital currency that is not stupid will evolve over time.”

A policy advisor predicted, “American information industries, along with their lackeys in the Copyright Office and Congress, will effectively throttle the potential of the Internet. Instead of thinking of new ways of encouraging innovation, they will lock into stone the pre-existing business models. Content distribution should be almost costless, but content owners will have successfully implemented legal and technical schemes that make access to and sharing of information impossible without paying them first. They will have been able to impose on a world of electrons the same kind of controls that they had when distributing content in the physical world of atoms. An even bigger challenge: We should have high-speed and ubiquitous Wi-Fi Internet at low cost across the country. But in reality, the ability of major telecommunication companies to throttle Internet deployment will mean that the United States remains an Internet backwater. And, I suspect that these companies may extend their control (and limitations) overseas.”

A retired professor of education wrote, “Too much stupid entertainment threatens the viability of the knowledge network. If we ever had an effective educational system, we could use the Internet effectively, but the so-called entertainment industry will not ever allow that.”

An information science professional, and leader for a national association, responded, “Backsliding just does not seem to be an option at this point. People are too dependent on the Internet for content sharing for this to deteriorate. If Congress can ever get its act together and provide broadband to the entire nation, then that breaks down barriers for the millions of have-nots.”

The chief privacy officer for a US technology company wrote, “Data wants to be free, and people want to use it.”

An online community management consultant wrote, “Convenience is the killer app. Poverty still is a major blockage to wide use, and it will remain so, or perhaps, increase as an issue.”

A creator of nonprofit media content noted, “Commercialism has already limited the freedom of interchange. Algorithms deciding who sees what have the potential danger of eliminating the critical role of diverging points of view and leading to more ‘mass hypnotism.’”

A new-media entrepreneur and author responded, “Things will go south if corporations are allowed to play Internet gatekeepers more than they already do.”

A senior administrator at the University of Maryland-Baltimore stated, “The publishing industry is one of the most serious threats to access to information. They want to do the right thing, but profit gets in the way. Whoever controls and profits from the content is the biggest threat to access and sharing. Follow the money. The other threat is the digital divide—if people do not have access to the technology to access the information, and all information lives in a digital environment, then we cannot realize the full potential of access and sharing—this is a worldwide problem. Access to education could be so powerful on the Internet if the people who could benefit the most could have access. See the digital divide comments above—if people cannot realize the fullest potential of the Internet, they cannot realize their fullest potential.”

A technology risk and cyber-security expert for a US-based financial services association predicted, “Access will continue to grow. Just look at the growth of mobile devices; however, security issues (i.e., malware, cyber crime) may impede this growth. As noted above, cyber-crime and cyber-warfare could impede people from realizing the fullest potential of the Internet.”

A lecturer in international politics and the cyber dimension at a European university wrote, “The old business models that are currently preventing the free flow of information (entertainment, academic publishing, etc.), will be entirely remade in a framework that benefits the producers and consumers of information, rather than the ‘industry’ that surrounds it. There could be a closer relationship between producers and consumers of data and information. Challenges will come from the United States (the West) as it tries to defend industries/sectors that have outlived their purpose.”

A lecturer in Human-Computer Interaction at the University of St Andrews, in the United Kingdom, responded, “I do not see a reason existing threats, such as censorship, overzealous copyright laws, Internet traffic profiling, surveillance, etc. will become worse than they are now. Substantially relaxing copyright laws would help people become creative on the Internet.”

A deputy director with an organization that studies and analyzes US Homeland Security wrote, “The need to protect and monetize intellectual property, especially entertainment copyrights, etc., will be both the threat and the incentive to keeping content accessible.”

A self-employed media trainer and journalist predicted, “Sharing will become increasingly easier. Companies cater to the market, and the market likes sharing. The outstanding question is of course whether we will have crossed the digital divide (which, these days, lies more along economic lines than anything else). There will be a cohort that pull back from the Internet when something scary happens, like a widespread cyber attack. But the Internet is so embedded in our culture already that I cannot imagine people giving up this instant communication.”

An employee of the Network Information Center predicted, “There will be a better general understanding about how content should be shared, and it will allow the majority of citizens to participate with a higher level of awareness. Education is the key to helping people understand the value of sharing content (with specific controls in place) in a safe manner. I would love to see biometric-managed, single-sign-on solutions that consolidate huge amounts of information into a single area so that users can see the universe of services, information, financial data, etc., that they consume on hundreds of separate sites. The biggest challenges to this vision are cyber-security and privacy, obviously.”

An activist user responded, “Most governments, and some corporations, are threats to producing, accessing, and sharing of content on the Internet. Self-censorship will also be a threat in this regard. I hope the development of democracy and freedom using the Internet will block the anti-democracy front.”

A researcher and graphic designer predicted, “Hackers will use their skills to cause problems, if not for monetary gain, then just ‘because they can.’ That said, people who choose to share online have to understand the risks.”

An anonymous survey participant responded, “The future threats are copyright law and censorship.”

An information science professional at the College of the Bahamas wrote, “Things will not change for the worse; however, intellectual property rules need to change. Quality information is only available to those who can pay. This needs to change.”

A freelance science and medical writer and communications director for a state government agency responded, “No, there will be more hindrances to not sharing content and maintaining privacy.”

A new-media communications specialist at a public university responded, “This is a ‘yes-and-no’ answer for me. I have seen great innovations in sharing documents, Web-based meetings. Access to broadband and high speed Internet remains limited. Public fear of hacking is a very real hindrance, and a strong desire to meet person-to-person is very strong in rural areas, though this is a cultural thing, and with time, ten or twenty years, that reluctance will disappear. People have real issues with password management, remembering them—and overall, a lack of trust in things ‘Internet’ are pervasive. Trusted vendors and locations are hacked, and passwords, account information, and personal information are all vulnerable. I have had two such incidents happen with my employer, and also with Target.”

A senior project manager in distrubuted Agile Software Development said, “The genie is already out of the bottle! You cannot limit people’s access to sharing or accessing content now that they have had a taste. The kind of limits in places like China simply would not stand at America’s ‘I pay your salary, and I want it now,’ pace.”

A professor emeritus of communication at San Francisco State University predicted, “As more people obtain smartphones and access to computers and other devices, there will be problems accommodated everyone—this is similar to the problems we face with millions of people getting cars, as well as with countries not having enough roads to handle the crush of cars. In addition, there is the problem of spam, which helps cause overload.”

A state government library advisor wrote, “Privacy concerns and lack of bandwidth, or equal access to bandwidth, will be hindrances. Prices for Internet access should be regulated and not ‘bundled’ with other telecommunication services. Public libraries should also be given totally free Internet, since using the library’s computers can offer ‘some’ privacy, and many in their community may not be able to afford their own access.”

A distance learning specialist for a government organization predicted, “People will refuse to go backward. Maybe at work places, IT departments will hold people back, but in the real world, people will be sharing content everywhere and in all formats. People have already had access to sharing; they will not stand for being held back.”

A research scientist for a major American media company responded, “Totalitarian governments will always be the biggest threat.”

A marketing research consultant, self-employed at Wolinsky Research, stated, “I do not see any way to stop information sharing.”

A retired senior analyst for the IT department of a major insurance company wrote, “Sharing will be more important, though more regimented and more risky due to the malware and governments.”

An information science professional wrote, “The roadblocks to sharing are copyright issues, which are a complete mess, and companies that are running scared of technology and cannot figure out how to work effectively in delivery of information. They must think differently about it, or lose out—think about publishers and e-books—particularly in relation to libraries.”

A brand management professional predicted, “WWW access will be monetized.”

A manager of technical services at an AmLaw 50 law firm observed, “We risk fragmentation of the Internet as governments react to privacy concerns of their citizens, relating to recent exposure of US spying activities.”

An information science professional wrote, “As a person in the information business, I think that people will be sharing more of their research online without licensing restrictions.”

An anonymous survey participant responded, “Increasingly, resources such as newspapers—and other resources like online business sources, etc.—are now charging for access to their materials, when once they were freely available online. Vendors who supply libraries with digital materials are increasingly placing limitations on their access, or increasing their costs dramatically. When free resources are no longer free, and free public libraries can no longer afford the resources that their patrons want, access for many individuals will be restricted. Faster connections may result in an increased fee structure so that individuals and institutions, such as public libraries, may not be able to afford the faster connections that I expect will be available.”

A marketing communications specialist wrote, “[It is] too late for hindrances; people are too used to how things are now. New security and systems will have to be provided.”

The president of a marketing and research consultancy responded, “I see the pace at which people share and exchange information to only accelerate, though perhaps not always for the good. I suggest that, at some point, individuals will rebel against the system and attempt to recover some measure of privacy.”

A self-employed content creator and distributor wrote, “This is a tsunami that cannot be stopped by any government.”

The director of market intelligence at a major communications networking company wrote, “There will be even more monetization.”

A 30-year veteran of software design, testing, and deployment for the US Department of Defense stated, “The most serious threats to effective accessing and sharing of content in the Internet is our own fear. We never would have had advances in science, engineering, and medicine over thousands of years if we were constrained by the fear of the new. I believe, as I mentioned before, that the way to circumvent this is by understanding that these fears to advances are a generational problem. Senior citizens, not having used computers all of our lives, are much more fearful of the ability to share data globally. Market to the younger users; they are the ones with confidence in technology.”

A self-employed author, researcher, and consultant noted, “The use of private information for immoral, unethical, and individual gain causes friction.”

A federal government employee responded, “I think a major barrier is the lack of an Internet police, for lack of a better word. There is too much unsubstantiated, false information on the Web that some take as gospel.”

A PhD candidate at the University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada, predicted, “The definition of the word ‘online’ itself will change. We can only start to imagine what it will be then, and after, 2025: from network to neuronet, maybe, and why not a neuronet of immense computing power in the hands and heads of human beings filled with inner databases, with free connection and access between dedicated groups, small or big?”

A freelance Internet journalist, researcher, and editor explained, “Costs have to come down to allow more people to have access. Government regulations must control the rampant corporate greed that is limiting availability and access.”

CEO and editor-in-chief of an international media service organization predicted, “Access will become far greater and far easier, as the digital divides see education shifting to understanding and manipulating the Internet and ICT for personal benefit.”

A self-employed communications consultant responded, “There will always be nuisances, hindrances.”

A university faculty member responded, “Changes will be for the better, in my opinion, but I answer the question based on this being a good thing.”

A researcher for a large US-based technology company specializing in understanding user-facing impacts of technology wrote, “It is obvious that privacy and security questions will not be abstract to users in 2025. Either they will have to pay, or take some other, extraordinary means to ensure that they are in control of the content they produce and share.”

A social media consultant responded, “Surely, it is possible there will be hindrances. We will be what our leaders allow. Will they outsmart terrorism efforts online?”

The senior strategic planner at a mid-sized marketing agency observed, “There are so many options for connection that there are few ways to stop the sharing of content without simply taking down the Internet in a country. The underground is always one step ahead with a workaround when a government tries to take down a single site. The bigger threat is the sheer amount of ‘noise’ that is shared now: a truly important message can be drowned out by misinformation, gossip, etc. It is more Brave New World than 1984.”

An anonymous survey participant responded, “Security concerns and laws will limit the ways people interact online.”

A librarian at an American university wrote, “I hope this is not true, but I am worried it might be, given how dangerous and damaging our copyright laws are. I have some hope, thanks to entities like Demand Progress, but it is going to be a fight to stop business and government forces from passing damaging, SOPA-type legislation and caving in to copyright maximalists.”

An information science professional responded, “Threats include countries not allowing their citizens full and open access to the Internet. Censorship from countries—such as China, etc.—will not allow a full picture of the Internet.”

A high-level administrator for a large library system in the US Midwest wrote, “It will be seductively easy to share anything and everything. Young people growing up without filters will see no need for them.”

A law librarian for a large legal services organization stated, “The problem of the future will be how to realistically monetize creative content. Right now, it is over-priced, or all you can eat. Some type of metered payment system needs to be worked out. Next is respecting the value of creative content—that will be harder. If we do not figure those two issues out, it will be problem.”

A newspaper journalist and health communications consultant observed, “The most serious threats come from small-minded politicians influenced by small-minded constituents. We must eliminate any possibility of gerrymandering in the United States.”

A librarian and instructor at a primarily online university responded, “Speed may increase, and file size may become less of an issue, but I do not anticipate the basic mechanisms changing much. The lack of privacy and security—especially as a result of government surveillance—is the single biggest threat to the cloud’s potential as an information-sharing tool.”

A market intelligence analyst for a medical publisher shared, “[I have concerns about] laws in communist or socialist countries that restrain intellectual flow or free trade.”

An information science professional wrote, “I cannot imagine that there will be hindrances to sharing content. There will be new methods, as well as learning curves, but I do not think accessing and sharing will become more difficult.”

An information science professional stated, “More and easier sharing will be a positive change.”

A marketing executive working in the high-tech industry since the early 1970s responded, “I suspect government will intervene, as they have to restrict commerce and free trade. They have already suppressed inter-state shipments and taxation and will seek a bigger slice of the pie and control as time goes along. Cable and telephony companies will maneuver for protection, and the US government will no doubt try to control and license bandwidth, as it does with other forms of communication currently. This will have a dampening effect on the freedom of the Internet and create more complexity overall. This will hasten the move to offshore investment and operation to avoid government intervention. I suspect Internet Free-Tax Zone locales will be established in remote areas of the world or within Enterprising Countries.”

A senior product manager providing software and content solutions for the healthcare industry wrote, “The most serious threats to the way people get and share content online is the commercialization of all channels through which content is generated, vetted, published, found, accessed, and utilized. Commercial influences, and the need for monetization of most content ventures, leads to sources, features, and access being corrupted by business needs. It is unfortunate, but I do not think it is likely that a movement strong enough to create an unbiased ‘new Internet’ will come to pass—mostly because any such effort would also need to bring to bear all of the same, and very costly, infrastructure and technology sophistication that its commercial competitors do.”

An information science professional predicted, “The concerns will be about who owns the data, as well as who can mine the data. Amazon probably knows way more about us than we think they do as it is. There is also going to be a lot more fear about what the government knows and what they can find out. I think there will also be a concern that, just because we have used, bought, or searched for something in the past, corporate interests will steer future offerings based on past behavior. Narrowcasting may limit future access and sharing, rather than the users themselves.”

The senior manager of digital for a marketing agency providing services to nonprofits predicted, “It will be easier, but a shift in how people view privacy may mean that people keep less data in the Cloud and use more sophisticated security to keep unwanted people and organizations out of their lives.”

An information science professional concentrating on the healthcare field wrote, “I think people will lose control over knowledge they have created due to inadequate cyber-security. Materials created by individuals will be vulnerable to hacking and theft of intellectual property, and I believe governments will not take the steps needed to protect individually created knowledge. The Internet offers enormous potential; the key to its future success will be to protect confidentiality without thwarting creativity.”

The digital communications manager for an independent book publisher noted, “The stakes are too high, and the benefits to society too great, for content sharing to get ‘significantly worse.’ This cat is out of the bag.”

An information science professional at a private, nonprofit university wrote, “I imagine that big money would eventually buy out the right to unlimited online access and networking.”

The Web marketing manager at major Chicago academic medical center responded, “There may be too many privacy laws.”

A businessperson in the medical technologies sector predicted, “Global political pressure and grass roots movements will increase access and sharing.”

An academic administrator, and former foundation executive with responsibility for information technology, responded, “I hope not. Corporate greed and sluggish law will continue to plague access and sharing. We will need more people like Aaron Schwartz and Edward Snowden—brave enough to challenge the powers that be may help.”

A professor emerita in the graduate program at a research university responded, “Again, I would have preferred answering both ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ In some countries, unfettered access may continue, but in others, unless the younger generation can succeed in changing the national policies, or if online capabilities can overcome the silencing of populations, then some will continue to be hindered while others enjoy access.”

A masters student in political science at Binghamton University wrote, “I think sharing and communicating might, in some ways, become easier by 2025. Although, I also think that increased government surveillance will limit what people can share to a greater extent. Threats to security always are the most important factor to the government, and that will create greater limitations to what can be shared and communications.”

A retired college professor predicted, “We will be talking, in some form or fashion, to any person, anyplace, in the world, friend or enemy. What the content will be will determine if there are any hindrances. In a perfect world, there will not be, but since the world is not perfect, nor will be hindrances will be preset, how we react is yet to be determined, but it could lead to new blue collar-white collar jobs.”

An information science professional noted, “People already share too much, and it is causing security problems, and relationship problems, as people announce their personal business online, or they get videoed doing something inappropriate, and it ends up online, following them forever. This has already led to suicide in the case of teens sexting and it ending up in the public domain by accidental or purposeful means. I think, unless there is a change, things will only get worse.”

A retired management consultant for a large international corporation predicted, “Search engines will be greatly enhanced; people will increasingly rely on the Internet to make more routine decisions in their daily lives.”

A pastor, who is active in the TEA Party in the US, wrote, “Lack of security will have seriously negative influence on this. Many organizations will disconnect from the Internet as the result.”

A leader of a major nonprofit grassroots organization in California predicted, “People will accept filtering of all aspects of the Internet without understanding how or why it happens; they already are with search engines.”

A consultant to nonprofits, and to the government of the District of Columbia, stated, “What has already been shared will come back and bite people. And, at least for the current generation, and perhaps even half of the next one, people will continue to share without regard for how the sharing might negatively impact them when they are adults.”

A futurist, consultant, and industry analyst wrote, “[It is] hard to imagine changes for the worse—the trend is the opposite—and technology innovators will keep it that way. The biggest barrier is the cost and complexity of access to the platforms on which content is shared.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “There will be significant changes for the better and the worse.”

A fundraising consultant predicted, “There will be greater sharing of information via an Internet-like system. An individual’s location, purchasing habits, medical information, and personal information—all will be accessible by someone or some entity. The more centralized the data collection, the less security individuals will enjoy.”

A shopper analyst for an Internet company wrote, “People expect to find and tell everything on the Internet. Political issues may cause policies to be put in place to limit access and exposure, but I do not believe that those steps will be wholly effective.”

A retiree, and Internet user, wrote, “Fear, ignorance, the news media, and television are all hindrances to innovation.”

A consultant for nonprofit organizations said, “Ownership of content will be harder to control. Money will be made on ease of accessing content, not controlling content. Examples already exist with Pandora.”

A library director at a US college stated, “Sharing is so useful for social, personal, and professional activities that it will continue to grow. The most serious threats are hacking and, perhaps, ongoing confusion and legal issues around copyright and intellectual property.”

The owner of a public relations firm responded, “The only hindrances will be between governments that adopt more protectionist policies about sharing personal information. It will be industry that leads the way in information sharing.”

A professional who works for a nonprofit social services provider noted, “We must ensure that companies are not allowed to restrict access or bandwidth. The Internet must remain a public entity and, ideally, free to all. I fear, though, this will not occur.”

A self-employed author and blogger observed, “Accessing and sharing content is severely affected by government controls of what can and cannot be searched in countries such as China. We are moving towards a global economy, in which there are a small number of haves and a larger number of have-nots. This will prove a politically unstable situation.”

A management consultant wrote, “I suspect most technology consumers have no direct engagement with the cloud—and have no desire for it—and only access cloud services via proprietary walled gardens, pirate download sites, and other highly circumscribed and suspect ‘services.’”

A principal librarian for regional and rural library services in Australia responded, “Potential threats include lack of bandwidth, cost, and clunky privacy and security measures that reduce efficacy.”

An entrepreneur and business leader responded, “If those changes are driven by profit alone, we will not find the optimal future; if those changes are driven by government or military alone, we will not find the optimal future; if those changes are open-source alone, we will not find the optimal future. Any of these areas alone would find reasons to limit access in some way. The interplay between all of the big needs will create the most interesting changes in sharing and accessing information.”

An independent consultant specializing in research issues relating to aging predicted, “Concerns about security will increasingly inhibit content sharing. Better cyber-security at the desktop/cloud level will be needed to ensure that information seeking and content sharing not unduly inhibited.”

An anonymous survey participant responded, “ With more and more users daily, having only a handful of information on personal security when utilizing the Internet, I believe we are doomed.”

A marketing research analyst predicted, “It will be much easier to share in the future. The limits will not work, and people will be more careful.”

An anonymous survey participant responded, “Less and less information sources are willing to share freely. Already, newspapers like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc., require a payment beyond limited use. At the same time, there are efforts for the free sharing of scientific papers, and there is the Creative Commons, etc. However, somehow other avenues will be found to take full advantage of the Internet for information sharing, education, and so forth.”

A consultant to state higher education organizations focused on adult college completion responded, “There will be changes, yes, but mostly for the better.”

A digital analyst for a publishing company predicted, “More people will have access to the Internet, more information will be put online, and more scrutiny will be needed when consuming this information.”

A regional sales director for a business wrote, “What more can we share? It seems everything we have or do is shared online—from photos to banking, we all do it online.”

An employee at a US-based, state, public university stated, “What we give up for access, we pay for in the loss of privacy.”

A communications professional who works for a US government agency wrote, “With the constant innovation and change in this space, people’s ability to access and share content will improve.”

An education consultant, teacher, and developer wrote, “Because of the nature of the ‘sharing,’ countries trying to keep their ‘borders’ safe will be unsuccessful. Maybe the parts of the world still choosing to live by the rules of five centuries ago will have to join the present—and the future! The world is available in the palm of one’s hand.”

A researcher for an economic development agency responded, “There will be more restrictive policies, more country or jurisdiction-based barriers; however, there will always be tools for getting around these, available to those who are savvy enough to access and use them, and who are unafraid of negative consequences (i.e., fines) for using them.”

The president of a Washington, DC-based center advocating health solutions wrote, “I imagine this should get much easier, especially if people continue to be blasé regarding security and privacy.”

An Internet marketer predicted, “People will share less publicly and more within small, controlled groups for specific purposes.”

The director of financial stability and workforce development for a medium-sized nonprofit responded, “There are few threats that will limit people’s optimal future capabilities of using the Internet. Since many in our society believe that there should be no constraints on their behavior on the Internet, much less in their personal lives, I do not see this as an issue. Pornography is an excellent example—although it is demeaning to women, it continues to flourish on the Internet. As long as people are self-seeking and disregard the effect of their behaviors on others, anything will go. Additionally, Internet users will become increasingly desensitized to negative or damaging viewpoints and behaviors. Already, we see in our society an increasing disregard for others and an emphasis on individual happiness at the cost of all else.”

A planning information manager for the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts wrote, “While my answer is ‘no,’ this could change if content providers are driven to the wall and rebel en mass against the current model of free distribution.”

A middle manager in the digital division of a public media company explained, “The risk to content sharing is that no one will find a way to capitalize on it in a way that encourages more, better, and/or smarter stuff.”

A digital strategist responded, “2025 will not be fundamentally different; it will have better linkages and more data that can be stored cheaper, and faster.”

A healthcare consultant observed, “Access to content online has been amazing over the last twenty years. I believe it will continue to grow.”

A certified nonprofit fundraising executive noted, “We need broader, stronger, and more dependable wireless access everywhere. We also need to foster developments in security to provide a higher comfort level when people share information online. Policymakers and lawmakers will need to watch developments in the technology arena carefully, and hopefully, they will be guided by a stronger knowledge of the industries they are regulating. In this way, poorly thought-out laws will be avoided. I suggest lawmakers seek guidance from experts in the field more often, before making decisions. If it were myself, for instance, Healthcare.gov would have been given to Microsoft or Amazon to develop from the outset. I would question whether the usual government mantra of using the ‘least-expensive contractor’ for projects of that magnitude is sensible.”

A professional blogger for a mental health site, and social media suicide prevention volunteer, wrote, “Misguided nanny-state legislation will create hindrances to accessing and sharing content (i.e., England’s disastrous porn filter). This will drive people to alternative systems, such as Tor and the Deep Web, but these are not easy for the average user to use. There will be multiple content streams, as well as multiple Internet systems, as people move to avoid controls and censorship.”

A freelance writer of op eds responded, “Governments will begin to arrest and prosecute people for newly-created crimes with technologically-created evidence.”

An organizational, marketing, and planning consultant for nonprofit organizations stated, “One would hope that civil discourse will redevelopment for online communications—perhaps with more moderated forums. That said, such a move will take a sea change in the maturation level of many/most current Internet users.”

A professor at the University of Pittsburgh predicted, “Both paid and open access will grow, with content and pricing models evolving in response to demands and preferences in the information marketplace.”

A retiree wrote, “It is being limited already. The vast content of the Internet is commercial in nature. No pay, no play.”

A retired state government legislative aide and budget analyst wrote, “Free speech, as we have stated and defended in our constitution, will be a thing of the past.”

A professor at the University of Colorado observed, “The most serious threats come from individuals who want to share details anonymously but are able to be tracked, especially in politically sensitive situations.”

A marketing and business consultant wrote, “As a society, we are in the process of ‘learning our lessons’ on sharing content online. Almost everything about an individual is now available for public access, and consumers are not happy about that. The next generation(s) of online users will be savvier about the security and access of their personal and business information, and there will slowly be a change in trend towards protection of that information.”

A professional educator noted, “As with everything new and novel, the disruptive period will give way to stasis. People will adapt, and things will settle into a routine. Not giving one or more entities the ability to dominate the Internet is a key consideration.”

A lawyer working on technology issues observed, “Currently, people share way too much information online. I think people will learn from this and pull back a bit on how much is shared. Further security measures are necessary.”

An author, communication consultant, and historian, responded, “I do not see significant changes that will significantly affect the way people interconnect, unless severe cyber attacks cause governments to restrict the Internet.”

An information science professional predicted, “National security issues will be the reason cited for increasing access to and limiting sharing of content on the Internet; however, public safety will not be helped by these limitations. Increasing global communication and interaction at all levels of government, business, and society, in general, will help promote understanding and acknowledgement of the need to access adn sharing of Internet content.”

The website manager for an Australian lobbying organization explained, “Awareness that our every move online is being monitored, analysed, and sold to advertisers, or potentially used against us by employers, government, or in social relationships, will mean many people think twice about what they do online. Paranoia will have a tangible effect on behaviour.”

The research and program evaluation lead at a small nonprofit wrote, “I have a feeling that there will be more attempts at monetization of technologies that have been free up until now. The open source movement will continue to thrive as an equalizer, but I fear that, in response to this, corporate greed will continue to try and dominate the Web.”

A government-based cultural technology research analyst responded, “The threats are unwillingness on the part of some to share information. Certain types of organizations (museums, for example) can be reluctant to make information available for use, although many museums have already embraced ‘open data’ and ‘open content.’ I do think, however, that people will continue to use content more and more—once that door has been opened, there is no going back.”

An administrative assistant for a major US foundation wrote, “I believe there will be attempts to limit online content, but people will find a way around it. The companies that want to control the data and will need people to continue uploading and sharing that data.”

A senior Web designer for the State of Oregon responded, “Government restrictions on information sharing may be a concern for the future, especially in other countries. But, I think, as connectivity and devices get cheaper, more people globally will be able to access content and share information online. This is a positive development.”

A consultant for a major religious organization, assessing changes in the role of technology in the church and virtual community development, wrote, “Money is the most serious threat. As corporations gain more and more control over ‘free access,’ we will be forced to pay for content that we presently take for granted. Less regulation of Web space will preserve the open-source, innovative nature of the Web. Web explorers and creators will continue to find new and exciting ways to use the Internet, but they will be pitted like David and Goliath against the interests of large corporations and the wealthy.”

An education technology researcher working in a science center predicted, “People will continue to share content, but the content will be more fleeting, matching the attention span of young people today.”

The collections digitization manager at a major US history museum noted, “We need to move to more cross-platform content searchability; however, the biggest threats are pay walls and the splintering of content.”

A freelance writer, author, journalist, and website creator/maintainer, responded, “By 2025, governments of the world (including the United States) will have instituted major changes in the freedoms allowed on the Internet/Web. There is not enough action being taken now to stop it from moving in that direction. The current actions of the United States, Google, Yahoo, and others to allow countries such as China to limit freedoms on the Internet/Web will not change by 2025; if anything, they will increase their work to limit what is allowed. Most people seem to forget that the majority of the Internet/Web is operated by a branch of the US military. It has in its power the ability to limit user’s abilities, both here and internationally.”

A university-based teacher and data scientist responded, “Mostly, I think the changes will require more cyber-security oriented steps in sharing. We will help protect people from themselves—the standard lament of corporate IT staff. Their greatest fear is from employee carelessness.”

An educational technologist at a regional university in the United States wrote, “Corporations will keep their technologies close to their chests.”

A researcher in the library/information science field observed, “The Internet will be ‘free’ as long as it is ok for the one who holds the real power (whoever they are!). It is possible that a moment will come when it will be more ‘convenient’ to stop all this freeness.”

The managing director of the consulting division at a major US-based digital, creative, and marketing company observed, “Content is fairly accessible, especially considering how many folks have computers and mobile devices. The challenge for companies will be how, and where, to find the content. The access will be there; it is just a matter of people taking the time to do their research, talking to others about where to find what they are looking for, advertising, and awareness, etc.”

A higher education technology support professional predicted, “People will find a way around any attempts to hinder online connectivity.”

The senior director for digital media at a healthcare nonprofit wrote, “I am sanguine on sharing. Dictatorships cannot stop it, and there are, and will be, many ways to share—starting with mobile devices. And, there will be many opportunities to turn on the Internet of Things to share.”

A systems manager for a major entertainment company responded, “For a lot of people, privacy will take a backseat to content control. Not that privacy will not matter, but it will not be as important as the ability to control data you create and that is created about you. A more troubling occurrence is a government imposing rules on usage, especially content, and having those rules enforced by the same firms that helped the Internet grow to what it is today. Those private firms are often not in a financial position to deny requests to ‘abide by the law,’ so international agreements will need to be developed to enforce basic standards for Internet access, content, and privacy.”

A communications professional with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health predicted, “There will be transitions; they will not always be smooth, but costs will play a significant role.”

An international project manager at Microsoft observed, “Censorship will be a lot easier soon, due to the quick data-mining capabilities afforded by machine learning; unwanted content will be targeted immediately.”

A supporter of the ICT entrepreneurship ecosystem in Europe noted, “Hindrances already exist.”

A demographer and sociologist employed by the US federal government responded, “There will be greater and greater access to larger bases of data. Companies, nations, and individuals that block access are the impediment. Openness has to occur in combination with security. If people believe their ‘information’ will not be used against them, then they will cooperate.”

A digital transformation manager for a major technology services company wrote, “The most serious threats will be connectivity exclusivity—slower Internet for those without the means to pay for faster experiences. This will probably always be present to some degree, but if the ‘advanced’ part of society takes off far beyond that of the rest of society, problems will appear.”

A marketing and trend consultant wrote, “Get the monopolies of the cable and telephone companies out of the way! By 2025, this should reach an uproar!”

A student at the University of Western Ontario responded, “By 2025, it may prove futile to try to prevent accessing and sharing online content. Businesses relying on the old nineteenth-century models of control of content will need to find new models to make money.”

An online marketing professional for a medical publisher responded, “The ‘democratization of content’ has resulted in there being a lot of junk out there, and perhaps that gives rise to a greater need for filters, curators, and such. In terms of media companies, they are still trying to figure out how to survive, and laying off journalists seems like a bad way to go about business. They put up pay walls, take them down, and repeat. They are still struggling with the phenomenon of how giving ‘x’ away can result in more revenue—it is a paradox. This is tangential, but one of the negatives for me is going to Amazon, seeing a book for sale, and having it not be readily apparent, whether it is self-published or from a ‘real’ publisher (disclaimer: I worked in book publishing for many years). When I see self-published or print on-demand from ‘little ol’ book publisher,’ I am immediately skeptical; perhaps I am a snob.”

An audience research and development strategist wrote, “Search and user profiles will have to weed out the interference of un-relatable content for the user.”

An information science professional noted, “New security measures enacted could have an effect on sharing.”

The director for research and instruction at a university library stated, “Universal access is the key—access to even the remotest part of the world. Technology has the power to disproportionally affect those with the least. Bring a washing machine into a remote village, and you have given women back days of time with which to improve their lives and the lives of their communities.”

An information science professional responded, “Censorship will obviously be the most serious threat. This is already happening and needs to be dealt with.”

An information science professional in Massachusetts wrote, “Presuming that privacy and consumer exploitation are successfully managed through legislation, and that cyber attacks are also minimized, people will still share information via the Internet.”

A writer, website operator, and technical consultant for local and wide area networking, wrote, “The genie is out of the bottle. Accessing and sharing content will expand. It will be found to be ‘a good thing.’”

An information science professional in Connecticut explained, “If the trend toward creating apps for everything continues, that becomes a filter of all of the information that is actually available. So, the more that apps and customized devices by a limited number of companies become used as a primary source of information or sharing, the greater the potential is for filtering or biasing the information available through them. Maintaining alternate views and access to small, non-mainstream outlets of information is critical to keeping a balance in access.”

A retired educational technologies specialist observed, “The current digital divide is not those with connectivity versus those without, but rather those with a personal online device or one shared with others. One device per person is the growing norm but not the need. There will always be libraries that can provide access and businesses that provide access as part of their customer service. Connectivity and access will not be a concern. Universal connectivity, which is nearly the norm in the United States, affords everyone the ability to receive and share content globally.”

A retired longtime IT professional predicted, “Higher bandwidth will improve sharing. Devices like Google Glass will improve things like virtual meetings.”

An Internet user wrote, “Some governments and groups who are afraid of people’s cooperation will continue to try to block the cooperation of people.”

The director of operations for MetaFilter.com noted, “The digital divide will still exist, and it will further marginalize the people with less or inferior connections to the network.”

An information science professional at large, public Research I university, predicted, “The increase of available cell towers and cell service worldwide will help with Internet connectivity. There is a limit to how much wireless can do, though.”

An activist Internet user responded, “Security of information will be a paramount concern, as systems Americans felt were leak-proof have been hacked on a regular basis. Cyber-security must be heightened and evolve along with the innovation in technologies that are available.”

An information science professional wrote, “I certainly hope content is easily accessible. The main problem is copyright. I know that authors need to be reimbursed, and I want to be fair to them, but we need to find a way to make the content available, especially if the author is no longer living. Some authors want their content available. This needs a lot of work.”

An information science professional responded, “I suspect that more and more regimes in politically oppressive countries and regions will clamp down on Internet privacy, as well as on the ability of citizens to use social networking to oppose the powers that be. I hope that the United Nations makes some kind of Declaration for Human Rights in terms of Access to Information. It is quickly becoming one of the essential ways of existing for many people—and one that should not be infringed upon. In an ideal world, the United Nations’ saying so would be enough to enforce such an idea, but that will likely not be the case.”

The head of a department in a state government agency noted, “There is a huge digital divide now, and those driving are ignoring the have-nots more and more.”

An information science professional wrote, “Privacy issues will be the biggest hurdle when it comes to sharing online. As stated before, this will be an ebb-and-flow process, with some wins and some losses for both sides, eventually with no clear-cut winner.”

A digital information specialist for a nonprofit organization said, “Privacy will disappear in a digital aspect. People do not realize how much they share online now is disseminated to different companies. That is only going to get worse.”

An information science professional responded, “By then, hopefully, copyright laws will be clarified, enhanced, or plain updated.

An information science professional wrote, “I just do not see this devolving. This horse has left the barn, for better or worse.”

An anonymous PhD organizational consultant and researcher, and adjunct graduate school professor, explained, “Threats are moral fascists everywhere and corporate or government policy makers who want to control content and access to information because the Internet is truly capable of fostering a democratic view and reality. But historically and psychologically, those who might gain ascendency (a benign dictator?) are unlikely to overcome the greedy and narcissistic types who aspire to control money, society, and access to all kinds of information through which people might become radicalized, aware, educated, and eventually, more egalitarian.”

An information science professional stated, “I believe more people will store information on the Cloud and will use applications like Dropbox because of the convenience.”

An information science professional wrote, “There must be much more change to allow safer usage and sharing of content. That will be up to the technological giants.”

An information science professional wrote, “I think there is too much sharing now and that people will come to realize that and will value personal privacy more in the future.”

An information science professional predicted, “Commerce will make inroads on privitization of the Internet and charging for prioritization of use.”

A mostly-retired designer, writer, and Web developer, responded, “There will be changes in the way information is exchanged. There will be attempts at controlling and hindering, but I do not think the changes will necessarily be for the worse.”

An information science professional noted, “China figured out how to limit accessing and sharing conflict, if imperfectly. If they can do it, we should be watchful of our and other governments as well.”

An information science professional responded, “This will apply only for some people and industries—national security interests and corporate anti-espionage measures, for example. The optimal future of the Internet might be not to have it. They are already showing it to cause emotional and relationship problems—increasing isolation, bullying, and feelings of low self-worth.”

And Information science professional observed, “As we work to make things secure, we put up more barriers. I already have more passwords than I can remember, and the different requirements for each make them hard to standardize (and that defeats the purpose, right?). While I appreciate a vendor wanting to keep my information safe (or more likely, assure that their info is safe), I already have to weigh the amount of time it takes me to access a site versus the anticipated content reward. Some sites are scarily able to allow me continual access—think Amazon’s one-click purchases. This goes back to the struggle between privacy and access.”

An information science professional responded, “The only changes I foresee are those that make it easier and smoother to share content online in a variety of new and interesting ways. The will of the people is global Internet sharing, and the people have proven an ability to bring government to a standstill, if necessary, to promote this goal.”

An information science professional predicted, “In nations where open and full access to the Internet is allowed, there will continue to be more optimal ways for people to connect and share. I think, actually, of all technology movements, the changes in social media and Internet connection has been one of the quickest. Out of a group of four women, three of them (including myself) met their husbands online. This would have been unheard of even ten years ago. Not that all that connection is good: with every instance of someone Skyping with grandma in Germany, there is a girl being cyber-bullied on Facebook. But, is that open connection going to keep happening? Yes, [I think so].”

A self-employed author and consultant wrote, “I am already seeing less access to content. Bibliographic resources available through databases are shrinking. In the case of journals, online databases at public libraries now offer a smaller range of dates, or do not offer full text. Unfortunately, many public libraries discarded their print journals, so these resources are no longer available to the non-academic public.”

The research and analytics director for a major media research group wrote, “The most threating [factors] will be regulation and politics trying to control what is created and distributed in order to avoid terrorism and destructions.”

A university professor based in Ohio wrote, “Sites like Google Docs will become more common, and sharing online content will become easier—not more difficult. I also believe Open Source sites (especially in academia) will become more common, which will benefit scholars, researchers, and writers, and will hopefully curtail the power publishers currently wield in the market.”

A retired information science professional wrote, “As long as anyone with the ability can ‘put up’ anything on the Web, and users are either not trained in verification or too lazy to do so, content shared will become increasingly inaccurate and, perhaps, dangerous.”

An information science professional responded, “There will be less privacy and more control on the part of corporations to influence, as well as more control on the part of governments to get into our private lives. Despite the clear signs of these scenarios, there is not enough of a critical discussion of its effects.”

A published writer stated, “I sure hope this will not happen. I like to think that the democratization of information will continue.”

A higher education administrator predicted, “I think we will see modulations of what we see now—not wholesale, radical shifts. Moore’s law (faster, smaller, cheaper) has made our gadgets and gizmos smaller and cheaper and more capable—but it is more of what we had, not wholly new things. Apps (on phones, then tablets) were something new, but I am not sure most people really even noticed that shift. Changes like that are absorbed so quickly now; we barely register the sophistication of the latest thing.”

An information science professional said, “It would be a nice surprise if the changes made would provide more protection, while also allowing more people to make contact with one another. I do not think there are enough privacy settings now, on Facebook, or other similar sites. I would like to be able to control my messages more than what I do—not seeing postings from friends of friends and knowing that they are not seeing everything that I am posting on my page. If there is a way to do that, I have not discovered it yet! I really do not know what steps would be necessary, but I am sure it is possible.”

An information science professional predicted, “The technology will continue to keep pace with needs, and people will abandon the venues which put up obstacles to connection.”

An information science professional wrote, “There is a strong chance that Internet service providers, enabled by lobbyists from media corporations, will strengthen their search for pirates and practice of enforcing data caps. There will be more roadblocks and pay walls, as well as more obscure alternatives to official channels of information. The strange tragedy of all this will be that, as time goes by, populations will use the expanding Internet for less meaningful interactions and enrichment than ever before.”

A quality analyst who works for Google predicted, “Copyright infringement cases are going to multiply and replace nuisance patent infringement cases in the future.”

A retired entrepreneur predicted, “Totalitarian regimes will further repress freedom.”

An information science professional in Oregon wrote, “Unfortunately, the Internet will become less free and democratic as it falls more under government and corporate control. A powerful grassroots, underground movement will keep these forces in check, but only the tech-savvy and resource-rich among us will be able to enjoy the kind of access subversion requires.”

A CEO of a technology company said, “I think some of the most serious threats are limiting who can access and share content on the Internet. Policy and trade agreements will need to be put in place to block changes that would limit people’s access.”

An instructional system design professional noted, “Information wants to be free. Those that want to make money off information creation will have problems monetizing it. The problem will be with information overload and the human ability to focus on the right information. Propaganda will delude billions of people in the name of control and profit. The power of propaganda is a threat to the continuance of democratic self-rule.”

An information science professional observed, “Open sharing and access could depend on how many cyber attacks there will be, along with the resultant outcry to be protected.”

An information science professional stated, “Existing copyright law is the biggest barrier to using the Internet, and this law will have to be revised for a digital age.”

The director of a suburban public library wrote, “Once upon a time, we thought all content would be free online; however, that changed in a short time. The cost of retrieving information should decrease, but that economic model does not seem to work.”

A self-employed information consultant and developer responded, “I think there will be more content and more sharing, not less. I do not think there will be hindrances, but there will probably be complications. For instance, I do not think anyone foresaw the potential for cyber-bullying until it became a reality.”

A professor teaching in a university graduate program wrote, “I think access and sharing will continue to prosper and grow.”

An information science professional responded, “Having so much immediate control over digital rights will be an ongoing problem for people who are trying to access information on the Internet. Information will disappear when it is no longer worth keeping online. Companies have conflicting goals of increasing access to the Internet while not increasing access to services provided by other companies.”

An information science professional stated, “I do not believe there will much change from today.”

A database configuration specialist and risk assessment analyst responded, “Perhaps on the surface there will be blocks—censorship, etc.—but unless the entire infrastructure of the Internet changes, Kermit still works. Knowledgeable people will always be able to work their way around in the substructure.”

A professional who is self-employed in non-technology field wrote, “Unfortunately, governments seem to be moving in to control the Internet, which will stifle free flow of ideas and creativity. They may be doing it with the best intentions, but the result will be censorship of one form or another.”

An information science professional said, “Digital access rules! Historical archives will be kept hidden away, while we all will have access to it in a digital format. We will explore the world online. Remember the awe of Google Earth ten years ago? Hold on to your hats.”

The executive director of a nonprofit community service organization observed, “We are losing much in terms of privacy, to the point that it will gradually affect some to sit out. This will limit some development of getting and sharing content online.”

An information science professional warned, “Unless we can resolve some outstanding issues with digital copyright, we will see a decline in access and fair use, which will limit creativity and pose challenges for all of us.”

An assistant professor of library and information science at the University of Missouri stated, “Sharing is the future. The Internet is made to share. It might be monitored, but we can share it.”

A self-employed digital consultant and instructor wrote, “People’s optimal future capabilities will be limited by the lack of privacy, along with organizations (or the government?) banning what people have the right to access. Also, the price may be prohibitive to the average person.”

An information science professional in Alaska responded, “I cannot imagine why there would be hindrances to sharing online—unless they are financial? Copyrighted content issues need to be figured out, though.”

The webmaster of a history website, and an airline archives digitization consultant, predicted, “Commercial publishing, proprietary databases, and lawsuits around copyright will continue to plague researchers and affect open access to important scientific and medical discoveries. It could eventually weaken the United States in the global marketplace. At the same time, there will be a push for open access on the part of US universities, libraries, and other educational institutions that use the fair use doctrine to provide access to print and other media (i.e., video, audio). The entertainment industry will continue to fight for copyright restrictions, as they should.”

An information science professional in rural eastern Washington State predicted, “Hindrances will endanger access. Some countries will be heavily regulated by their totalitarian governments, and others will be significantly limited by corporate interests. And, I am not a Libertarian, believe me!”

A former executive at major technology company, now a social entrepreneur, wrote, “The most serious threats come from those who want to control the content, whether [it be] governments or intellectual property lawyers. But, in the technological version of cat-and-mouse, they will find it harder to exercise control.”

An information science professional predicted, “Over-sharing will become a cultural norm and expectation. The snap-chatification of online interaction seems well on its way. I think the sheer volume will be a hindrance to people who are looking for specific information needs.”

A 75-year-old retiree and volunteer, formerly a business professional, observed, “Searching for information and sharing is getting easier; it is still cumbersome, and there is a lot of room for improvement, but it will happen because it is economically and socially advantageous.”

An information science professional responded, “I think people will realize that there are consequences to sharing so much content online. Apps like SnapChat will drive this change. People will value their privacy and post selectively—almost like a private Cloud, shared with a few.”

A volunteer and artist responded, “The most serious threat, to me, is that not all people can get to the Net. The second would be that one can write whatever they want, purposely sending out ‘wrong’ information to an even larger population.”

An information science professional observed, “The Internet becomes more and more about marketing and less about anything else. In the age of information, the Internet has become bloated with trivia and trash, and it is actually harder to get accurate and authoritative information, especially on important topics. More and more time is wasted trying to winnow the wheat from the chaff.”

The director of finance for a company wrote, “No matter how many times you tell people to implement security measures regarding their privacy, they are still careless.”

An information science professional noted, “Cyber-security, due to the Snowden incident, has changed thoughts of free access and sharing. Also, recent Target and Neiman Marcus credit and debit card breaches have created another problem of personal information and credit security. Internet usage and information sharing may be different in the future because of public and political security concerns. Better security brings limitations.”

An information science professional in Kentucky responded, “Self-censorship is the biggest threat to the proliferation of Facebook and other social media sites. The one thing that is lacking (due to a plurality of factors) is trust: trust in your own data, control of your data. Will your data, opinions, and sharing be tracked and locked into you?”

A member of the clergy with an interest in the political and social implications of technology predicted, “DRM and automated discretion-less enforcement of copyright will pose a major threat to creative expression and cultural interchange.”

An information science professional stated, “Some things will be easier, but other walls will be put up to prevent the sharing of content.”

A health sciences librarian at a California university noted, “More people needing more data means more work. I think that, as more people put everything online, people will not know what to trust and believe and we will become a society that is basically a dada painting.”

An information science professional observed, “Copyright holders have placed any number of limitations on the exchange of ideas online, but others have fought back strongly against such limits. I cannot see any companies limiting access without a huge outcry against them. Governmental regulations against the spread of information also go against the grain of free speech—the Snowden and WikiLeaks cases show how people circumvent such limits.”

A communications strategist based in the San Francisco area wrote, “Expect more pay walls, as well as more significant digital divides, as income gaps increase.”

A media agency strategist predicted, “Sharing will improve as everything moves from devices to the Cloud, making it easier to access and share.”

An information science professional based in Delaware responded, “I do not think it will get worse, but the paid versus free aspect of data is probably the largest obstacle to sharing information online, followed by all the different apps and devices that may not network together very well. Just trying to show patrons how to download e-books with all the different devices that they bring, and seeing the difficulties they encounter with little help available, highlights that problem.”

A student at the University of Washington responded, “Government intervention is the greatest risk to the free and open Internet, but there will always be people clever enough to get around these hindrances, and these attempts will eventually be rendered useless, unless a government wants to turn off the Internet as in Egypt; but, that would doom the country to insignificance in the Internet age.”

A director of university communications at a major university in Colorado wrote, “Overall, security clearly is a factor. Another factor is the growing acceptance of the potential flaws of such systems, along with the willingness of providers and users to endure any ‘bump.’”

A law school professor teaching in the areas of research and analysis predicted, “The most significant changes will be the result of complete information overload. There will not be a sufficient amount of time in anyone’s day to process content, unless the human brain can be rewired. The overload may bring about a Thoreau-esque pull away from the vast majority of information providers and lead to a one- or two-source favorite for most.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “I expect Internet connectivity to spread around the world. I expect that, as the infrastructure necessary becomes smaller, cheaper, and easier, it will spread further than ever before. I do not think that is a change for the worse.”

A media distribution professional based in New Jersey wrote, “I believe the economic factor will be the driving force of limiting content. Content providers will want more money for information.”

A human factors professional, and educator and member of ACM SIGCHI, explained, “It is not that I think that this will get worse; it is just that I think that we are at a kind of sweet spot for content sharing. The Internet, and even current levels of broadband and Wi-Fi connectivity, may be more or less sufficient for providing needed and usable content. So, there will be changes, maybe, but [will they be] significant? Not so much.”

An anonymous survey participant wrote, “As we evolve into a more connected world, so should we become a global society, despite hindrances by enemies or governments; the world [will] become smaller and, hopefully, friendlier.”

An attorney and partner in private law firm predicted, “Embedded devices will make access easier, and the major threats will be government and corporations requiring and/or installing backdoor controls that the public likely will not be aware of.”

A media distribution professional stated, “The most serious threat to access is the rising cost of access. The best steps to block these changes are to make free Wi-Fi more available in city centers.”

A metadata librarian based in a large US metropolitan area predicted, “People will be more comfortable in sharing online content by 2025. I also believe that people are changing their definitions of privacy to make sharing the norm—not the exception. Threats would include illegal content theft/hacking and an inadequate educational infrastructure that continues to prevent the poor and elderly from making use of the Internet and related capabilities. I do not think technology will hinder use; encryption is better developed all the time.”

An information science professional in Colorado said, “The biggest issue will be how to get the good, quality information you need amid the increasing growth of ‘junk,’ or, at least to me, non-useful information out there. It is already very difficult for the common user to find good, quality information and to tell the difference between reliable sources and those that are not.”

A self-employed interactive communications specialist for a religious news organization observed, “If bandwidth and fiber optics does not keep up with advances, or if we do not create additional ways of sharing Internet connection (blimps, satellite, etc.), the reach and depth of time online will be hindered. Also, technology has to become cheap enough for everyone to have a way to get online (cell phone devices, as well as service or other tools).”

The chief operating officer at a large public library system observed, “Information and content sharing has increased exponentially. There is still room for more, and that will happen.”

An information science professional wrote, “Unfortunately, content will not just be shared between two people in the future. I have noticed that, already, content that was easily accessible in the past is not readily available.”

An anonymous survey participant who works as a senior executive for the US executive branch responded, “Hindrances to access are cyber-security, privacy, and protection of civil liberties. By 2025, bots to protect these will exist to counter bots and people that try to infringe on these.”

A technology policy expert predicted, “There will be more legal barriers, particularly across jurisdictions, better censorship technology that is harder to get around, and more user tracking. The more decentralized systems will be easy to use and set up, and they will be interoperable with existing systems.”

The president and principal consultant of a product usability consulting firm explained, “This depends upon how powerful China becomes. If China’s economy continues to grow while its government retains tight (non-democratic) control, then Chinese ways of operating and controlling the Internet will spread. If China’s bubble pops and its economy recedes (as some pundits predict), the threats to Internet access and sharing will continue to be scattered and temporary, as ‘the Internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it.’”

A researcher and academic wrote, “There will be more sharing and more innovative capacities for accessing content.”

An independent scholar wrote, “Some companies will keep fighting to control and limit access.”

A self-employed survey researcher, and statistical analyst and research professor at the University of California-Berkeley, responded, “Other than security threats and cyber-terrorism, I think technology will enable access and sharing. Look at how Skype has increased connection.”

A knowledge expert and consultant based in Australia wrote, “The most serious threats are government regulation, corporate legal action over intellectual property, and the fear of crime.”

The CEO of a company located in Africa wrote, “The increase in capabilities will be in the extent of utility.”

A social science researcher and professor studying health information and social media stated, “I do not see current capabilities declining.”

A professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Texas State University noted, “There are too many bright minds to have any restrictions last for any length of time.”

An analyst for a central government institution in Chile noted, “There are a lot of people interested in making sharing content online less easy than today. And today, we do have more hindrances than before—the growth of Internet and the content available has hidden the fact that there are more barriers than before. Regarding sharing personal content, it will probably be easier to access (since that content is easier to share now than before).”

A communications professor at a state university in California predicted, “For-profit information suppliers will replace the current advertising-based system.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “I am optimistic about the evolution of the Internet.”

A retired professor, and head of a communication technology professional association of academics, predicted, “There will be increasing attempts by narcissistic companies like Apple and Microsoft, as well as by the US government, European Union, and China, to enforce control over free sharing of information. At the same time, there will be an increase in large segments of world populations that wish to thwart these efforts. The control organizations will call this ‘terrorism’ and try to control it, but there will be increasing local revolts, like those seen in rural areas of China on a daily basis. Sabotage and underground resistance will become more widespread.”

A principal sampling statistician at a research organization wrote, “The demand for content will make it hard for governments to resist [intervening].”

A research assistant at the Polytechnic University of Portugal predicted, “The process will evolve to a point where hindrances will be removed.”

A PhD and active scholar of online communities wrote, “Sharing will be increased as applications link and content spreads.”

A research scientist at the University of New Hampshire stated, “Governments will increasingly monitor and block communications.”

A professor and center director at a major university in the United Kingdom wrote, “There could be an increased balkanization of the Internet.”

A University of St. Gallen research associate and doctoral student responded, “Content will be even easier to share. Ease of use and usability has always been a key driver of ICT evolution. On the other hand, media companies will to everything they can with legal enforcement to inhibit illegal sharing. Such enforcements, however, will not succeed and will lead to a more pronounced digital divide. Those who are savvy enough will circumvent the legal and technological hurdles and still might share anonymously and legally. Those who lack such knowledge (often the less well off) will be persecuted and pay hefty fines. In the end, this will cause large divides and disagreements over copyright issues.”

A professor at The New School, based in New York City, noted, “Those who see the hindrances today need to get out there in a much more active way to make sure it does not happen—and they are out there. The real question is not whether it will be better or worse, but rather, how do we make it what we want it to be?”

An Internet and society academic researcher responded, “The most serious threats are corporations and governments. The necessary steps would be pertinent reforms over the powers these entities have over individuals, as well as each other, depending on the given situation in question. This is unlikely. “

A usability engineer wrote, “I do not see any changes here, unless totalitarian governments find ways to keep people offline; however, people will find a way to do it.”

A survey research professional, who has worked for decades for government, academic, and commercial organizations, said, “A few more grand abuses, and people will simply give up on the medium. And, passive data collection will explode, with or without fundamental theories and/or understandings of social goods.”

An anonymous respondent wrote, “There are huge chances to collaborate with others using online resources.”

An associate professor of IT management at California Lutheran University responded, “There will be changes, but I do not foresee wholesale changes to our ability to work and share online.”

A postdoctoral researcher noted, “This is a complicated matter, but I am deeply pessimistic regarding the future of sharing.”

A customer-experience strategist for the Kaiser Foundation wrote, “Control of access is the biggest threat. Freeing access, and ensuring it is affordable and available to all, similar to the way telephone lines were, will ensure ongoing sharing of content.”

A PhD candidate at the University of Oslo responded, “The threats to access and sharing in the future include freedom of speech, business models, self censorship, and digital footprints.”

A doctoral candidate in educational technologies noted, “The greatest threat comes from the potential content and volume controls exhibited by the ISPs and the large corporate media owners in collaboration with each other.”

The publisher for a large scholarly society specializing in digital communication predicted, “Getting and sharing content will become easier and easier. Even the copyright regime we face today seems to be loosening in certain respects, given the outcomes of some landmark court cases; however, continued vigilance on that front is required. The big challenges will be access, both to technology and to education, and restricted ownership of data.”

A personal coach, author, and speaker wrote, “As long as there is a puzzle of the Internet, there will always be hackers solving the puzzle.”

To read full official survey analysis, please click here.

To read credited responses to the report, please click here.