October 2, 2009

Unfinished Symphony: What we don’t know about the future of the internet

This speech was given to the American stakeholders interested in the United Nations Internet Governance Forum. It explores four major areas of uncertainty whose resolution will shape the future of the internet.

The first involves the kind of internet we have – from the standpoint of the internet’s architecture and its adoption.

The second involves what kind of information policies we have – that is, the kind of rules we develop about information property such as copyright, patents, and trademarks and the marketplace norms that apply to property.

The third involves the kind of policies and norms we develop about our online identities – specifically, the policies and practices we construct about online privacy, anonymity, and surveillance.

The fourth area of uncertainty is that we do not yet know the full impact of the internet when it comes to economic, medical, social, and political outcomes. The social science community is just beginning to tackle issues related to the value of the internet – both good and bad – in empirical terms. 

The speech also contains new data from a just-completed Pew Internet Project survey about digital divides.

View the slideshow below or read the PDF (text and slides):