What a rich and full report! I am very proud to be featured in this Elon University Imagining the Internet report looking back at predictions we made about Digital Life in 2020! And I am just amazed and honored to be in the good company of the thinkers and scholars included in the report.
New Imagining the Internet report: Looking at Predictions about Digital Life 2020 from 15 years ago!
By Dan Anderson, staff
A new report offers a look back at predictions made 10-15 years ago and shares experts’ updated opinions and insights for the decades ahead. They note the net’s immense impact on human intelligence and emotion is surprising and important.
A new report released on Dec. 29, 2020, by the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University examines experts’ past predictions about the evolution of networked technology and suggests what may lie ahead. Researchers examined the 12 “Future of the Internet” canvassings of leading technology experts by Imagining the Internet and the Pew Research Center between 2005 and 2011. Four of the studies contained questions in which experts were asked to make predictions about digital life in 2020. Several of experts quoted in those reports were recently asked to reflect on their earlier forecasts.
Co-authors of the report are Lee Rainie, director of Internet and Technology Research at Pew; Elon Professor Janna Anderson, director of the Imagining the Internet Center; and Emily A. Vogels, a research associate at Pew.
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Fading chances for a rise social tolerance?
In the 2007-08 canvassing, 56% of experts disagreed with the statement that social tolerance would have advanced significantly by 2020 due in great part to the internet. Many at that time hoped the global village being built online would bring people closer together, but about the same number didn’t see it happening.
One of those who predicted tolerance would not grow over time was Christine Boese, a digital strategy professional.
“The real propaganda rallies of our age are not on grand vistas in Nuremberg, full of pomp and showmanship,” Boese says as she explains the ways in which intolerance appears to have been accelerated by humanity moving online. “Rather, they take place in the intimacy of living rooms, in front of televisions and on YouTube, with fragmented mass media audiences where the watchers can’t usually see other watchers. Audience conformity is presumed, with right-wing identity politics. And then, the online spaces offer solace, connection, as they always have, for those who are isolated in their face-to-face communities. Avid viewers are united around an organizing principle. They don’t feel alone in the dark…. Our authoritarian fellow citizens whose disassociation from reason and proof in a bifurcated reality could lead us to nothing less than a decline of civilization, to a new Know-Nothing dark age of plagues and wealth inequalities that are positively medieval.”
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Read the full report, including additional comments by experts on these themes, on the Imagining the Internet website.
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