decade. We called these tension pairs and we asked respondents to consider the issue and pick which scenario they imagine is most likely to occur. As always, we asked respondents to explain their answers and their rich, narrative elaborations are compiled in this volume.
One recurring theme in all the surveys played out again in this one. Experts are fairly certain that digital technology will evolve in some obvious, general ways in the future. Yet they are much less certain and express more contentious views when we ask them to predict how humans and human institutions will respond to the evolving tech environment. Moore’s Law is a much greater certainty to them than where more law in these areas could take us.
When we ask respondents to explain their answers, they often start by telling us how we have been imperfect in our question language and assumptions. In this survey, we heard from a good many respondents that both sides of many of the tension pairs we posed would come to pass. They argued, for instance, that Google will make some more people stupid and some intellectually brighter, that the rendering of reading, writing, and knowledge will get better in some ways but degenerate in others, that some institutions will change their basic structures and systems in order to thrive and that some institutions will retain their 20th century forms and will survive just fine, thank you, that the basic end-to-end, open architecture of the Internet will likely be altered in some ways in the next decade, though it will still retain some fundamental attributes, that it will be harder to be anonymous online, but that a modified form of “pseudonimity” will still be an option for many users, that the Semantic Web vision of Sir Tim Berners-Lee might not come to pass, but a “smarter” Web is inevitable.
The results of this survey reflect contemporary excitement about a here-and-now phenomenon that experts are coming to understand. In this survey, the experts showed great interest in the social transformations wrought by social media, especially social networking sites (SNS). Even as they answered questions about the future, sites like Facebook were on many respondents’ minds and fresh insights about the impact of SNS permeate their answers. They believe that the adoption of social