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What will digital life look like in a decade? Some predictions, from the optimistic to mind control

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Bigger gaps, smarter people, healthier people, shorter attentions.

Healthier and shorter attentions are compatible?

Each of these is fascinating:

Bill Woodcock of the Packet Clearing House also spoke to how increased connectedness will reduce the importance of place. In addition to highlighting, as many participants did, the profound impact of society’s access to information, Woodcock wrote, “It’s also important that the Internet facilitates communities of interest, rather than communities of coincidental geographic proximity. People who would in prior generations have assumed themselves to be abnormal now find themselves at the centers of thriving communities.”

Other arguments familiar to the journalism crowd that pop up in the report have to do with the nature of truth on the Internet. In the age of viral hoaxes, we’re almost too accustomed to the arguments made by John Saguto, who works on disaster response with GIS. He writes, “Truth and accuracy will be the challenge. The bad impacts include purposeful misinformation and nanosecond attention spans. Immediate satisfaction and ADD-type mentalities will be accepted as being normal.” He adds, however, a caveat that, while not commonly considered today, appears more than once in the report: “We will see mental illness from overwhelming information access, as well as degenerative body fitness.”

While Saguto believes that unlimited access will impair our ability to recognize truth, others, including founder of the first commercial ISP William Schrader, ultimately believes that in the future, the web will function in service of greater truth. Writes Schrader, “The Internet will help everyone understand, without government or the wealthy interfering with transmission, the challenges facing mankind…The problem in times before the Internet was the government could easily manipulate the news that went out to its population — lies and secrets. Now, the Internet tells everything about the government’s manipulations, even if it is considered illegal to do so (witness Edward Snowden’s actions).”

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