There is less clear-cut sentiment on several other possibilities about the future of the Internet. For instance, there was an even split when people were asked if the new transparency of humans and organizations will increase personal integrity and forgiveness—roughly half believe human relations will soften; half think that it will not happen. Similarly, when asked to assess whether many humans in 2020 will regularly spend time in enhanced or augmented worlds, there was some agreement, but it was not overwhelming.
About the Methodology
and Interpreting the Findings
This is the third canvassing of Internet specialists and analysts by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.1 While a wide range of opinion from experts, organizations, and interested institutions was sought, this survey should not be taken as a representative canvassing of Internet experts. By design, this survey was an “opt-in,” self-selecting effort. That process does not yield a random, representative sample.
Some 578 leading Internet activists, builders, and commentators responded in this survey to scenarios about the effect of the Internet on social, political, and economic life in the year 2020. An additional 618 stakeholders also participated in the study, for a total of 1,196 participants who shared their views.
Experts were located in two ways. First, nearly a thousand were identified in an extensive canvassing of scholarly, government, and business documents from 1990 to 1995 to see who had ventured predictions about the future impact of the Internet. Several hundred of them participated in the first two surveys conducted by Pew Internet and Elon University, and they were recontacted for this survey.