Mobile phone revolution will make life easier — and harder

Ahead the phones will rule
Ahead the phones will rule Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In 2020, powerful mobile phones will rule, privacy will erode further and the line between work and home life will be faint, if not obliterated.

That's what 578 technology gurus see in their crystal balls, according to a new report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The survey, "Future of the Internet III," conducted by Pew and Elon University, envisions amazing advances in mobile devices, virtual reality, voice and touch technology -- possibly even communication between mind and machine.

But will the innovation lead to better lives?

Maybe not.

"There is an undercurrent of worry in these experts about whether people will use the technology for good or for ill," says Lee Rainie, director of the Pew project.

Although cheap, accessible technology will spread throughout the world, it won't necessarily level the economic playing field or lead to better social understanding, the technologists believe.

In an always-on world, career choice will be key, says Janna Anderson, associate professor at Elon. "If you're going to be living your work, you need to find something that suits you so well it won't seem like work."

Jeff Cohen of Durham, an account executive with Chapel Hill marketing firm Koroberi, may already be living the 2020 life.

He's on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Flickr. He carries a Blackberry and documents his family life on the Internet, down to the minutiae of sneaker shopping and photos of his Thanksgiving plate. Last week, he and his kids ordered a Domino's pizza and tracked its status online -- from prep to oven to box to "delivery expert." Then he blogged about it.

He thinks he benefits from sharing his life with the world.

"People will feel a stronger connection to you in a business environment if you put yourself out there personally."

Read the complete story at the Pew Internet survey.

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