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<nettime> Pew: Experts assess Future of Internet
Geert Lovink on Tue, 26 Sep 2006 23:06:21 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Pew: Experts assess Future of Internet

(report full of contradictions and yesterday's predictions. interesting 
that the growing international dimension of the Internet is not 
mentioned at all, except for a reference to mandarin. it is quite clear 
which narrow group of wasp expertocracy the pew internet project 
focused on here, and how predictable the outcome then becomes... thanks 
to soenke for fwding. /geert)

The Pew Internet Project announces the release of its second report on
The Future of the Internet.  The press release is below; for the full
report, please visit:

Experts and analysts assess the future of the internet

(Washington, September 24) - A survey of internet leaders, activists,
and analysts shows that a majority agree with predictions that by 2020:

o	A low-cost global network will be thriving and creating new
opportunities in a "flattening" world.
o	Humans will remain in charge of technology, even as more
activity is automated and "smart agents" proliferate. However, a
significant 42% of survey respondents were pessimistic about humans'
ability to control the technology in the future. This significant
majority agreed that dangers and dependencies will grow beyond our
ability to stay in charge of technology. This was one of the major
surprises in the survey.
o	Virtual reality will be compelling enough to enhance worker
productivity and also spawn new addiction problems.
o	Tech "refuseniks" will emerge as a cultural group characterized
by their choice to live off the network. Some will do this as a benign
way to limit information overload, while others will commit acts of
violence and terror against technology-inspired change.
o	People will wittingly and unwittingly disclose more about
themselves, gaining some benefits in the process even as they lose some
o	English will be a universal language of global communications,
but other languages will not be displaced. Indeed, many felt other
languages such as Mandarin, would grow in prominence.

At the same time, there was strong dispute about those futuristic
scenarios among notable numbers of 742 respondents to survey conducted
by the Pew Internet & American Life Project and Elon University. Those
who raised challenges believe that governments and corporations will not
necessarily embrace policies that will allow the network to spread to
under-served populations; that serious social inequalities will persist;
and that "addiction" is an inappropriate notion to attach to people's
interest in virtual environments.

The experts and analysts also split evenly on a central question of
whether the world will be a better place in 2020 due to the greater
transparency of people and institutions afforded by the internet: 46%
agreed that the benefits of greater transparency of organizations and
individuals would outweigh the privacy costs and 49% disagreed.

"Key builders of the next generation of internet often agree on the
direction technology will change, but there is much less agreement about
the social and political impact those changes will have," said Janna
Quitney Anderson, lead author of the report "The Future of the Internet
II," and communications professor at Elon. "One of their big concerns
is: Who controls the internet architecture they have created?"

The report is built around respondents' responses to scenarios
stretching to the year 2020 and hundreds of their written elaborations
that address such things as the kinds of new social interactions that
will occur when more "meetings" take place on screens; the changes that
will occur in nation-states; the evolution of autonomous technology; and
the proper ways to police the internet.

The Pew Internet/Elon survey was conducted online by invitation to
experts identified in an extensive literature and periodical review and
active members of several key technology groups:  The Internet Society,
The World Wide Web Consortium, the Working Group on Internet Governance,
ICANN, Internet2 and the Association of Internet Researchers. Many
respondents are at the pinnacle of internet leadership. Some of the
survey respondents are "working in the trenches" of building the Web.
Most of the people in this latter category came to the survey by
invitation to those on the email list of the Pew Internet Project. The
survey was an "opt in," self-selecting effort. That process does not
yield a random, representative sample.

On September 20th the Pew Internet Project released a Data Memo,
Politics Online, August 2006:

On a typical day in August, 26 million Americans were using the internet
for news or information about politics and the upcoming mid-term
elections. That corresponds to 19% of adult internet users, or 13% of
all Americans over the age of 18.

This is a high-point in the number of internet users turning to
cyberspace on the average day for political news or information,
exceeding the 21 million figure registered in a Pew Internet Project
survey during the November 2004 general election campaign.

Comparing August 2006 figures to a similar point in the 2002 mid-term
election cycle is particularly revealing. In July 2002, approximately 11
million Americans, or 13% of online users, said they got some news or
information about politics and the campaign from the internet on the
average day. The August 2006 number is nearly two-and-a-half times
larger than the mid-summer 2002 figure.

To read the entire report please visit:

Please feel free to forward this email alert to colleagues, friends, or
family members who might be interested in it. If you have received this
message from a subscriber, you can sign up to receive your own alerts

Cornelia Carter-Sykes
Manager, Pew Internet
Pew Research Center

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