January 9, 2005

The Future of the Internet I


This survey, sponsored by the Pew Internet & American Life Project and conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, obtained online interviews with a non-random sample of 1,286 internet users. The interviews were conducted online, via SPSS, in two Waves: Wave 1 took place from September 20 to October 18, 2004, and Wave 2 took place from October 19 to November 1, 2004.  Details on the design, execution and analysis of the survey are discussed below.

Sample design and contact procedures

Across both waves of the project, email invitations to participate in the survey were sent to just under 1,000 internet users, (367 of these were sent after the completion of the first Wave of the project). The initial list included as many members as possible from the “200 Internet Figures” identified in the Elon University/Pew Internet & American Life Predictions Database project (http://www.elon.edu/predictions/200briefbios.aspx). Overall, approximately seven percent of the email addresses proved invalid, for a working rate of 93%. The email invitations provided a direct link to the survey, and contained the following language:

Dear [name here]:

The Pew Internet & American Life Project is surveying experts about the future of the internet and we would very much like to include your views in our research.

The idea for this project grew out of work we did with Elon University to develop a database of over 4,000 predictions about the impact of the internet made by experts during the period between 1990 and 1995.  Now we are conducting a web-based survey about the impact the internet might have in the next decade.  We are canvassing many of the people whose predictions are included in the original 1990-1995 database—and we are soliciting predictions from other experts who have established themselves in recent years as thoughtful analysts.

We hope you’ll take 10-15 minutes to fill out our survey, which you will find at http://surveys.spss-sb.com/spssmr/survey/surveyentry.aspx?project=p3280003.  The survey asks you to assess several predictions about the future impact of the internet and to contribute your own thoughts about what will happen in the next 10 years.

This is a confidential survey.  However, we encourage you to take credit for your thoughts. When you start the survey, please use this personal identification number (PIN): [PIN]

The Pew Internet & American Life Project will issue a report based on this survey during autumn; we hope the results will be useful to policy makers, scholars, and those in the information technology industry.  Our goal is to include material from this new survey in the predictions database.  (While we have not publicly talked about that effort yet, you can browse through the existing material at http://www.elon.edu/predictions.)  Be assured that we will not use your name or email address for any purpose other than this research project, and will not share your information with outside solicitors.

We’re sure we have not identified all experts whose views would be helpful to this research, so I would invite you to send an invitation to participate in this survey to any friends or colleagues whose insights you would be interested in learning.  Please ask them to use PIN 700 when taking the survey.

I hope you enjoy taking the survey and sharing your views about the future of the internet.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at lrainie@pewinternet.org.

Thank you,

Lee Rainie , Director, Pew Internet & American Life Project

As the above text indicates, Pew Internet encouraged the initial sample of experts to forward the email invitation to any colleagues whose thoughts on the future of the internet they would consider useful and important. This created an additional snowball sample of internet experts, whose ideas are also included in the final data.

Completion rate

Based on figures supplied by SPSS, PSRAI has calculated the following completion rate for the Experts Survey:

Table 1: Overall Survey Completion Rate

In Table 1, total hits (1,892) indicate the number of times the survey link was accessed between September 20 and November 1, or roughly the number of potential respondents who reached the survey’s title page during the field period.  The survey title page gave the following brief description of the survey and its sponsors, along with instructions for how to complete the survey:

Forecasting the internet

Welcome to the Pew Internet & American Life Project survey of technology experts and social analysts about the future of the internet. This survey asks you to assess some predictions and contribute your own thoughts about the impact of the internet in the next 10 years.

This survey has grown out of as yet unpublished research by the Project and Elon University to study predictions made between 1990 and 1995 about the evolution of the internet. The “Imagining the internet” database of those predictions is available at http://www.elon.edu/predictions.  We plan to update the database to include responses from this survey as well as your unfiltered answers.

The project’s goal is to see where experts agree and disagree about the potential social impact of the internet.  We hope the findings will illuminate issues for policy makers, spark debate and further research among scholars, and encourage those who build technology to ponder the societal effects of their creations.

This is a confidential survey. However, we encourage you to take credit for your thoughts. Please feel free to put your name in any space that allows for written answers. We will only credit to you the individual statements to which you add your name in the answer block. If your name is not there, your comments will be attributed to an anonymous voice when they are added to the Pew Predictions Database.

We plan to publish the results of this survey in a report that will be issued this autumn.

S1. If you received an email invitation from Pew Internet with an individual PIN for taking this survey, please enter it here. 

Those who were invited to participate by a friend or colleague should use guest PIN 700. If you did not receive either an individual or guest PIN, please enter 999 and proceed.

Total completes (1,286) indicate the number of respondents who completed the survey through at least Question 6.  The final completion rate for the survey is computed as the number of completes (1,286)/the number of hits (1,892), or 68.0%.

Questionnaire development

The questionnaire was developed by PSRAI in collaboration with staff of the Pew Internet & American Life Project and their partners at Elon University.