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The World Wide Web Is 25 Years Old Tomorrow

A panel of experts weighs in on what the next 25 years will look like. But what will it happen to the web's seedy underbelly?

Pew's word cloud seems to be missing one key component of the web's popularity. 

On March 25, 1989, Tim Berners-Lee, a young computer scientist, published a paper about "the management of general information about accelerators and experiments at CERN," a physics laboratory in Europe. That doesn't sound particularly worth remembering, except that his "multiply connected web" turned into the World Wide Web. You might have heard of that, since it grew into the world's repository of reasoned communication, enlightened discussion, and—who are we kidding?—pornography. Loads and loads of porn.

In celebration of this anniversary, Pew Research's Internet Project has asked a panel of internet experts to weigh in on what they think the next 25 years will hold. Here are some of the most interesting responses, rated on two scales—their potential contribution to intellectual advancement and their importance for pornography:

Prediction: Information sharing over the Internet will be so effortlessly interwoven into daily life that it will become invisible, flowing like electricity, often through machine intermediaries.
Intellectual advancement (0-5): 2. When was the last time your electric toaster taught you anything? 
Use for Pornography (0-5):
5. Effortlessly interwoven sounds just about right.

Prediction: The Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and big data will make people more aware of their world and their own behavior. 
Intellectual advancement:
4. Advances in biofeedback promise to help athletes, doctors, surgeons, and even blue-collar workers perform better.
Use for Pornography: 2. Being aware of the real world is pretty much the opposite of porn. 

Prediction: Augmented reality and wearable devices will monitor and give quick feedback on daily life, especially as it's tied to personal health. 
Intellectual advancement:
4. Just imagine—finally you'll be able to tell whether that Big Mac is good for you or not. 
Use for Pornography:
1. Nothing's less hot than being told you're doing it wrong. 

Prediction: The spread of the ‘Ubernet’ will diminish the meaning of borders, and new ‘nations’ of those with shared interests may emerge and exist beyond the capacity of current nation-states. 
Intellectual advancement: 2. Oh boy, new and different forms of bureaucracy.  
Use for Pornography:
0. Oh boy, new and different forms of bureaucracy.

Prediction: An Internet-enabled revolution in education will spread more opportunities, with less money spent on real estate and teachers. 
Intellectual advancement: 5. The education system seems ripe for increased scales of efficiency.
Use for Pornography:
1. How can you be hot for teacher in this brave new world?

Prediction: Dangerous divides between haves and have-nots may expand, resulting in resentment and possible violence. 
Intellectual advancement: 1. Not good.
Use for Pornography: 1. Also not good. 

Prediction: Abuses and abusers will evolve and scale.’ Human nature isn’t changing; there’s laziness, bullying, stalking, stupidity, pornography, dirty tricks, crime—and those who practice them have new capacity to make life miserable for others. 
Intellectual advancement: 0. This is pretty much the opposite thing. 
Use for Pornography:
6. What do you mean "miserable for others?" 

 

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