this process will reflect thoughtful planning or wash over us like an unstoppable wave. This survey is aimed at gathering a collection of opinions regarding the possibilities we all face.
How The Surveys Originated
and Have Been Conducted
This research project got its start in mid-2001, when 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 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 emerged. In the spring semester of 2003, Janna Quitney Anderson, professor of journalism and communications at Elon, led a research initiative that set out to accomplish this goal. More than 4,200 predictive statements made in the early 1990s by 1,000 people were logged and categorized. The result is available on the site Imagining the Internet: A History and Forecast (http://www.imaginingtheInternet.org/).
We reasoned that if experts and technologists had been so thoughtful in the early 1990s about what was going to happen, they would likely be equally as insightful looking ahead from this moment. In 2004 we asked most of those whose predictions were in the 1990–1995 database and additional experts to assess a number of predictions about the coming decade, and their answers were codified in an initial futures survey, the Future of the Internet (http://www.pewInternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Future_of_Internet.pdf).