Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

The Future of the Internet II


This Web-based survey, sponsored by the Pew Internet & American Life Project and conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, elicited a non-random sample of 742 internet stakeholders. The interviews were conducted online, via WebSurveyor, between Nov. 30, 2005 and April 4, 2006.  Details on the design, execution and analysis of the survey are discussed below.

Sample design and contact procedures

Email invitations to participate in the survey were initially sent to 550 select internet leaders, both stakeholders and skeptics. The initial list included as many members as possible from the “200 Internet Figures” identified in the research project that began Imagining the Internet, the Elon University/Pew Internet & American Life Predictions Database project (, and the board of directors lists for major internet organizations such as the Internet Society, the Working Group on Internet Governance, the World Wide Web Consortium, ICANN, the Association of Internet Researchers, and Internet2.

In addition, leaders of top internet organizations were asked to send an open invitation to participate in the survey to members of their groups. These email invitations provided a direct link to the survey, and contained the following language:


Internet leader,

The 2005 Pew Internet Predictions Survey is now online. It is aimed at helping illuminate important issues and concerns. It is only effective if the best and brightest people take part.  We would appreciate it if you would share the address for the survey with people who are on the membership list of the major world internet organization in which you are a leader. We are inviting ISOC, W3C, WGIG, IEEE and Internet2 members to participate, in addition to other top technology leaders who have been previous survey participants.

Please look at the following list and share the appropriate PIN for your organization with your membership in the email in which you inform your group about the survey address:

– Internet Society (ISOC): 1111

– Association for Computing Machinery (ACM): 2222

– World Wide Web Consortium (W3C): 3333

– Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG): 4444

– Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE): 5555

– Asssociation of Internet Researchers (AoIR): 6666

– Internet2: 7777

The address of the survey is:


Here is a sample introduction paragraph you might want to send to your group’s membership along with the site address and PIN number:


ISOC, W3C, WGIG, IEEE and Internet2 members and a select group of additional top technology leaders are being asked to participate in the 2005 Pew Internet Predictions Survey. The Web-based survey asks respondents to assess the future impact of the internet in order to illuminate important issues and concerns.

        You can participate by going to the survey site:

        At the start of the survey, please use the PIN number:


If you receive more than one invitation, please only respond to the survey once. The Pew Internet Project will issue a report on this survey in the winter of 2006.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Pew Internet Project Director Lee Rainie at or 202-419-4500.


Thank you!


Your participation will help us illuminate important issues and create a useful document that will be of importance for years to come.

Thanks very much for your assistance. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to inform members of your organization about the survey.

Pew Internet encouraged the initial sample of stakeholders to forward the email invitation to any colleagues whose thoughts on the future of the internet they would consider useful and important. In addition, respondents were encouraged to share with Pew Internet the email addresses of people who would be excellent participants in the survey. These addresses were collected, and an email invitation was also issued to these people to participate. This created an additional snowball sample of respondents, whose ideas are also included in the final data.

The survey title page gave the following brief description of the survey and its sponsors, along with instructions for how to complete the survey:

Predictions Survey

Welcome to the Pew Internet Project’s 2005 Predictions Survey! 

If you received an email invitation from the Pew Internet Project with a personalized identification number (PIN) for taking this survey, please enter it below. 

Those who were invited to participate by a friend or colleague should use guest PIN 900. 

If you did not receive either an individual or guest PIN, please enter 999 and proceed.



General Survey Instructions

Thank you for agreeing to assess the following predictions about the internet.  Most are extensions of recent statements by leaders in science, technology, business and politics.

Immediately below each question/prediction is a space for you to elaborate on your answers; we hope you will take the opportunity to expand the body of knowledge about internet issues by contributing your personal thoughts.  Likewise, if you disagree with the premise or wording of a question/prediction, please tell us why in your elaboration.  You are free to skip any questions you do not wish to answer. 

This survey is confidential, but we encourage you to take credit for your responses.  To do so, please type your name AT THE START of the elaboration section immediately below each question/prediction.  We will only credit to you the individual elaborations that have your name AT THE BEGINNING.  Please remember that accredited statements have more validity and add a great deal more to the body of knowledge than those for which people do not take credit.

The predictions made here are offered in the spirit of testing ideas about how the future might unfold.  They are not meant to represent our “best guess” or our preferences about the future.  Neither the Pew Internet Project nor Elon University advocates any policy outcomes related to the internet.


By the year 2020…

The first section of the survey asks you to assess predictions about what the internet will be like in 15 years.  Here’s a preview of the kinds of predictions and questions you will encounter as you move through the survey:


Where will things stand in 2020?

A global, low-cost network thrives.

English is displacing other languages online.

Technology advances to the point where humans have lost control of many aspects of it.

People’s activities, preferences, transactions, and whereabouts are logged and profiled, making life more efficient but also more transparent; there is an ensuing lack of privacy.

Virtual reality is a boon and a drain.

Success is more attainable for people living outside of nations that dominated the 20th century, allowing them to become important contributors.

Luddites will commit acts of violence and terror.

Please proceed to share your views about these proposed scenarios…

Following this section, participants were given fuller descriptions of seven different scenarios for the year 2020. In each section, they had three options: skip the question, agree with the scenario or disagree with the scenario. They were asked to provide written elaborations with their answers, and each participant began eacch elaboration by typing his or her name if willing to be identified with any direct quotations taken and used in this report or the online version of the survey data. 

Respondents were also presented with four different proposed priorities for using the internet to better the world and they were asked to rank them in order from first to last. They were asked to also suggest issues for Pew Internet to give further study.

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.

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