Could a large collaborative project to redefine browser, server and web technologies to enable fully robust web applications spike the economy?
The answer is certainly, even with the outsourcing of globalization, there's a lot of manhours to be invested and the opportunities for new start ups are certainly there.
Taking a brief inventory ...
1) Software Engineering and Comuter Scientists
These sectors of the economy benefit from needs to redefine browser internals and server infrastructures. As normal desktop applications, large applications beyond those defined under the umbrella of Web Cloud and RIA find the new infrastructure available, a large number of traditional applications will see revisions to utilize web communications and a large number of new applications will be spawned. Security issues will peak that sector of the industry without doubt as the new technology will require changes in how network security is implemented and its depth.
2) Hardware Engineering
Improvements in network bandwidth and QoS, place a need for changes in infrastructural hardware. Security appliances which monitor network traffic and selectively remove or inhibit illicit or harmful packets will come to fore as new technology. But the largest hardware sector growth will be seen in new appliances, ranging from hand held devices to traditional household appliances which do not normal function over the internet. Industrial and Scientific control applications will find a fertile ground for new applications and will require new devices for controlled automation of processes and collection of information. Probes, monitors and instrumentation will also find new methods of implementation.
ISPs, Advertising, Entertainment, Communications, Automated Processing and Information Gathering are likely to be among the largest featured service growth areas, but there is certainly a large list here to include, eductional, government, medicine and others which will benefit from the new technologies predicted here. The transportation and shipping industries for example will find new ways to monitor, dispatch and control travel from reservations, priorities to tracking, futuring expenses and so forth.
When hardware changes, manufacturing benefits. No need to say more.
This area is difficult to predict, but the legal sector might see some changes as security issues come to involve legal processes to a larger degree. As well, intellectual property rights can be predicted to see some changes as elements which are traditionally not shared suddenly find expression in a widely shared global market.
The ripple out certainly has potential for affecting many other areas.
As a follow-up question, does it make sense to persue such a large collaborative project with the intention of stimulating economic growth as one of its primary goals?
It is natural for individual corporations to persue projects for their own financial growth and wall technologies to preserve their rights to those technologies. When a large corporation stimulates the economy, some might believe that they preferentially do so through community, providing grants and other foundation-like contributions to stimulate production of the educated labor and management resources they require and infrastructures related to community to benefit their human assets.
If we conclude that a general stimulus to the overall economy is a community benefit that lends itself to those corporate objectives, but on a much larger collaborative and partnered scope, then yes, it does make sense and is even more preferrential. Albeit, it will requiring some steering to allow corporate competitive protections.