In mid-2001, Lee Rainie, the director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, approached officials at Elon University with an idea that the Project and the university might replicate the fascinating work of Ithiel de Sola Pool in his 1983 book, Forecasting the Telephone: A Retrospective Technology Assessment. Pool and his students had looked at primary official documents, technology community publications, speeches given by government and business leaders, and marketing literature at the turn of the 20th century to examine the kind of impacts experts thought the telephone would have on Americans' social and economic lives. The idea was to apply Pool's research method to the Internet, particularly focused on the period between 1990 and 1995 when the World Wide Web and Web browsers evolved.
Janna Quitney Anderson, a professor of journalism and communications at Elon, formed an Internet research group in the spring semester of 2003. Elon students, faculty, and staff members searched for comments and predictions from 400 experts made during the period between 1990-1995 in government documents, technology