Pew Project Nets it All Out

Uncategorized Posted Jan 14, 2005 by metropolis

A post of Pew pearls from my partner Chris Carleton…

Have you had time yet to peruse the recently released Future of the Internet Report issued under the auspices of the Pew Internet and American Life Project? If not, it’s a must-read for high tech PR folks.

In fact, it’s a must read for just about everyone, since the Internet and related technologies affect us all.

The report is based on a broad-ranging survey of technology leaders, scholars, industry officials and interested members of the public. The 24-question survey was emailed out in September and generated responses from nearly 1,300 individuals.

In addition to the Grandpappy of All Things Net, Vint Cerf, respondents ranged from folks like Ethernet inventor, tech VC and all-around industry icon Bob Metcalfe to uber-journalists/industry pundits Esther Dyson and Dan Gillmor. Some, preferring to shield their identities, came from such institutions as MIT, The Federal Communications Commission, U.S. Department of State, Harvard, Google, Microsoft, AOL, Disney and IBM. And still others imparted their wisdom, but neither their names nor their affiliations.

The survey finding that has generated the most attention is that 66% agreed with the prediction that at least one devastating attack will occur in the next 10 years on the networked information infrastructure or the country’s power grid. Most media outlets covering the report jumped all over that, since it has the F.U.D. factor that grabs eyeballs. That’s not to say it didn’t warrant the attention. We expect the majority of us find this prediction as likely as it is frightening.

News and publishing organizations are expected to incur the most profound level of change. Proof of that pudding is perhaps reflected no more strongly than in the Blogoshere. Others trailing closely behind are educational institutions, workplaces and healthcare institutions. The least amount of change is expected in religious institutions.

The report contains lots of other goodies that deserve airtime:

  • 59% believed that more government and business surveillance will occur as computing devices proliferate and become embedded in appliances, cars, phones and even clothes.
  • 57% agreed that virtual classes will become more widespread in formal education and that students might sometimes be grouped with others who share their interests and skill levels rather than just their age.
  • 56% think that as telecommuting and home-schooling expand, the boundary between work and leisure will diminish and family dynamics will change because of that.
  • Half believe that anonymous, free music file-sharing on peer-to-peer networks will still be easy to do a decade from now.