Pew director Rainie says Internet becoming more progressive, invisible

29 04 2010

Lee Rainie gives the final keynote address of the night at FutureWeb2010. Photo by Dan Rickershauser.

In the final address of the night at FutureWeb 2010, Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet Project, discussed the future of the Internet and the research conducted by Pew.

Rainie began working with professor Janna Anderson and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet project about a decade ago to gather predictions on the future of the Internet by technology experts and citizens.

“Our strategy was to be provocative,” Rainie said… “We started each of our questions with an obvious statement about the evolution of technology then added a “therefore” clause…we wanted them to react.”

According to Rainie, he wanted to collect “bad information from good people.”

What he got was good information and rich commentary on the impact of the Internet in the social realm.

“They had smart things and generally thoughtful things to say about the Internet,” Rainie said. “It’s in the exploration of those expository answers, those narrative answers, that gives us new knowledge.”

In the most recent research, there were 895 responses. Of the respondents, 371 were past participants and 524 were new to Rainie and Anderson’s work.

Some of the predictions included:

Are hot new gadgets and apps evident now?

-16 percent of experts said hot gadgets will not be surprising, 81 percent said they will come out of the blue

By 2020 will online anonymity be easier?

-42 percent said it will be harder, 54 percent said it would be easier

Will the internet be dominated by the end-to-end principle?

-63 percent said yes, 29 said no

Will institutions/businesses take advantage of the Internet?

-71 percent said yes, 26 percent said no

Will reading, writing and knowledge improve?

-69 percent said yes

Rainie said the Internet will no longer be so much of a mystery in the coming years since more and more people will have access and it will become more of a normal part of life.

“The technology becomes most important when it becomes invisible,” Rainie said.

-by Laura Smith

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