Future of the Internet III (2020 or bust)

I’ve been reading reports from the Pew Internet & American Life Project and sharing them with colleagues and friends, all the way back to the year 2000, when the non-profit “fact tank” began publishing its work studying Internet trends and activities and their impact on how we live. That year, Pew covered the early days of Napster downloads, online election news, wired churches, trust and privacy, online shopping and gaming habits, web use in the workplace, and more.

Since then, Pew Internet reports have explored every aspect of how U.S citizens use the Internet and how it has transformed friendship, family, and community life; the way we work and play; the way we learn; the way public policy is made; the way media is distributed, consumed, and shared. Pew Reports have provided me with data to help make sense of hunches and observed beHavi Hoffmanors, identifying patterns, describing trends, and offering facts where once there were none.

So, not surprisingly, during a quiet time early in 2008, when a Pew survey invited me to assess “scenarios about the effect of the Internet on social, political, and economic life in the year 2020” and serve up some Internet punditry of my own, I couldn’t resist. But I didn't expect to find my own opinions and prognostications amongst those of the experts, thought-leaders, academics, and analysts who were consulted and amply quoted within The Future of the Internet III, authored by Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie, and released Sunday. I was one of hundreds of survey respondents “'working in the trenches' of building the Web“ and it turns out our views "were distributed in ways that paralleled those who are celebrated in the technology field."

The report foresees that today's mobile phone will morph into the dominant connectivity tool for Internet access in 2020, voice recognition will improve, the network itself will be bigger and better if not ubiquitous, and human beHavi Hoffmanor will continue to surprise, for better and for worse. Will we have gotten over privacy? Will transparency make us more tolerant? Will the lines of demarcation between personal and professional time become even harder to discern? Will we touch, type, talk to or think at our devices? Opinions and perspectives abound.

You can read the report online, download the PDF, or order up a hardcover copy if Santa hasn't slashed your budget.

Havi Hoffman
Yahoo! Developer Network