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The Internet has radically changed everyday life in American society. It has created new ways to connect with friends and family, disrupted the way we do business and rewired just about everything in between. But the Internet and the World Wide Web are still relatively young. The public web is only 25, and like most twenty-somethings it still has a lot of growing up to do.
While debate continues on net neutrality, privacy and the architecture of the Internet, there is some agreement about the future of the Internet over the next 10 years.
As part of a series of reports marking the 25th birthday of the web, Pew Research Center’s Internet Project, in partnership with Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Project, asked nearly 1,500 Internet experts open ended questions about the future of the web.
Pew Research Center and Elon University chose the experts from previous surveys, a listserv of Internet analysts and from the list of the Pew Research Center Internet Project.
The majority believes that the Internet will become like electricity during the next decade, less visible but more important and embedded in everyday life. But while the experts agreed on how Internet will continue to grow, they disagreed on the implications.
“It is striking how much consensus there is among these experts on what will change, and equally striking how varied their answers are when they are asked how those changes will impact and influence users in good and bad ways,” Elon University Professor Janna Anderson, a primary author of the report said.
Since 2004, Pew and Elon have conducted six surveys on the future of the Internet. According to Anderson, this is the first time most of the people surveyed have described as many potential negatives as positives.
“They worry about interpersonal ethics, surveillance, terror and crime and the inevitable backlash as governments and industry try to adjust,” Anderson said.
So, what is the future of the Internet? Here are 15 predictions from the newly released Digital Life at 2025:
That last one is more advice than a prediction.
View the full report as well as comments on each of the predictions from some of the experts at the Pew Research Center for Internet.
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