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Monday, July 21, 2014

Concerns About the Future of the Internet

Most of the 1,400 experts who responded to a new Pew Research Center survey said there will be plenty of innovations and no real changes to the Internet over the next 10 years, but they did point to trends in the open flow of content that could become an issue.

One possible threat to open educational resources is the pressure to commercialize everything online. That could monetize the open structure of the Internet and lead to efforts to fix what the report calls a “too much information” problem.

“There are too many institutional players interested in restricting, controlling, and directing ordinary people’s ability to make, access, and share knowledge and creative works online—intellectual property rights holders, law enforcement and security agencies, religious and cultural censors, political movements and parties, etc.,” Leah Lievrouw, professor of information studies at UCLA, wrote in the report. “For a long time, I’ve felt that the utopianism, libertarianism, and sheer technological skill of both professional and amateur programmers and engineers would remain the strongest counterbalance to these restrictive institutional pressures, but I’m increasingly unsure as the technologists themselves and their skills are being increasingly restricted, marginalized, and even criminalized.”

The biggest concern to the experts who took part in the 2014 Future of the Internet survey was the possibility that nation-states would be tempted to block or filter the Internet to maintain security and political control. In addition, many worried that trust will erode if government and corporate surveillance increases.

“Privacy issues are the most serious threat to accessing and sharing Internet content in 2014, and there is little reason to expect that to change by 2025, particularly given the cyberterror threats confronting the Internet users and worldwide businesses,” wrote Peter S. Vogel, an Internet law expert.

The good news is that 65% of the experts said they believe the web of the future will be more open.

“The collision of ideas through the sharing network will lead to explosive innovation and creativity,” wrote filmmaker Tiffany Shlain.

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