on major instruments and facilities? To the extent that these questions can be answered in the affirmative, researchers will experience important shifts in their fundamental professional relationships. Every researcher, in shaping a career, should be aware of this potential.
No one can answer these questions with certainty today. Change will come from the bottom up, through the efforts of individual researchers, seeking their own paths to knowledge and developing the tools and relationships to get them there. The young—because they have grown up immersed in digital media environments—will probably be the most prolific in devising unexpected new tools and techniques. This effort in total will be enormous and hard to monitor, much less predict. Much of it will take place invisibly, in dormitory rooms and computer labs. The applications of these tools will be constantly surprising. Some of them will change the world.
For institutions of higher education, overseeing this unpredictable surge of innovation will be constantly challenging. Unlike other forms of academic infrastructure, such as electric power and water, the campus information infrastructure of buildings and laboratories cannot be planned in detail, or in isolation from the needs of the end-users. The best institutions can do in this case is provide enough bandwidth and suitable points of connectivity, while leaving it to researchers, their departments, and their colleagues to configure the details of the local area network. For every university the investment required will be very large.
This large investment means that researchers at every level will have to be informed about choices so that they can guide their institutions in making technology decisions. The growing disparity in Internet access between rich and poor has been called the “digital divide” ( http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/digitaldivide/). Vigorous efforts are being applied to cope with the economic, policy, training, and design issues ( http://www.digitaldivide.gov/ ), but persistent attention to these issues will be needed at every level (Shneiderman, 2000). The large disparity between advanced and developing nations also raises concerns about the capability of researchers to participate in international projects. Bridging this divide, nationally and internationally, will bring benefits by ensuring diverse participation in research activities and enabling previously marginalized researchers to contribute.
For researchers themselves, of course, these institutional