The Future of the Internet is So Bright I Gotta Wear Virtual Shades
turbotodd 100000388Y Visits (2031)
Yesterday, the Pew Internet and American Life Project -- a research institution whose work that many of us who follow the evolution and usage of the Internet closely monitor -- yesterday released a new report entitled "The Future of the Internet II."
Though it will take me some time to get through the report in full detail, the executive summary highlighted several key themes and emergent problems, some more intuitive than others.
As an example, the report found that while a majority of respondents agreed that the scenario of a "global, low-cost network will be thriving in 2020 and will be available to most people around the world at low cost," with many benefitting, there are those who maintain the "flattening" of the world will come at a price.
Specifically, they observed that many existing businesses are going to be anxious to preserve their current advantages "where control over information and communication is a central value."
Has Anybody Seen HAL?
Also, while most respondents believe the Internet borgs won't be taking over anytime between now and 2020 and that we humans will be largely in control, there are concerns about leaders who exercise control of technology could wield it inappropriately.
On a topic near and dear to my heart as a Web marketing and communications professional, there's also a clear split between those who believe that the benefits of digital technology will outweigh the privacy risks (this on the same day that several of the AOL users whose private information was inadvertently revealed in AOL's posting of aggregated search data have filed a class action lawsuit). 46% agreed that the "benefits of greater transparency of organizations and individuals would outweigh the privacy costs" while 49% disagreed.
I Think, Therefore I Am (an Avatar)
The most interesting finding to me, however, was that while there's a general view that virtual worlds (Think Second Life) will become more sophisticated and compelling, and could lead to greater productivity and connectedness (and therefore provide some competitive advantage to those who embrace such worlds). Others believe that it could lead to "addiction problems." As in, play
So what do you think? Are we destined for history's great virtual scrapheap or is our digital future so bright we gotta wear 3D avatar shades?
Me, I'm off to my Intertubes Anonymous meeting.