I am writing this on the day of Barack Obama's inauguration, and there is a palpable sense in the technology community that a new kind of patron sits in the White House. The new president is interested in the use of the Internet and cell phones in a way that his predecessors were not. Indeed, one of the interesting minor themes of the previous year's campaign was the difference between Obama and his Republican opponent John McCain on their personal relationship to technology, as well as their policy prescriptions. The future of technology seems mapped differently at the dawn of a period when a technophile sits at the head of the table.
This makes life even more interesting for those of us who are trying to think about the future of technology. We are already having a challenging time just keeping up with the present. Between the time our last survey about the future was fielded in early 2006 and the time this survey was fielded in early 2008, the world's Internet-using population surged well past a billion and the mobile phone population moved toward 3 billion, the proportion of Americans with broadband connections at home surged past 50%, social networking services such as MySpace and Facebook garnered tens of millions of users,