Behind the Numbers: Web Explosion

The future of the Internet is expected to yield an "explosion of information sources on top of the basic Internet backbone," according to a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey of technology leaders, scholars, and industry executives.

The survey projects that the Web will eventually be "deeply integrated" into physical environments. So much so, according to about two-thirds of the respondents, that in the next 10 years we can expect "at least one devastating attack on the networked information infrastructure or the country's power grid," the report states.

Predictions of change range from "least" in religious institutions to "radical" in news and publishing organizations. The experts and leaders surveyed believe the blogging trend will spur the biggest changes.

In a previous study, Pew found that the rise of blogs, or Weblogs, have spawned a new distribution system of frequently updated Web sites, news, and information. While 32 million Americans are blog readers, about 6 million are regular users.

One segment that's not accustomed to blogging is small business. While they're not in the blogging avant-garde, small businesses are expected to see major benefits from the use of the Internet as a sales and marketing channel.

According to a small business leader survey by Interland, 28 percent of small businesses that achieve between $250,000 and $5 million in revenue expect to derive anywhere from 26 percent to 100 percent of their annual revenues from online sales. Only 14 percent expect no revenue from the Web. And what is more, is that over 75 percent of these businesses say their Web sites have made their businesses healthier, helping them weather economic downturns and generate sales leads.

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