The Future of the Internet and how to Stop it

Front Cover
Yale University Press, 2008 - Computers - 342 pages

The Internet is primed for a meltdown--and the most obvious cures are just as bad

This extraordinary book explains the engine that has catapulted the Internet from backwater to ubiquity--and reveals that it is sputtering precisely because of its runaway success. With the unwitting help of its users, the generative Internet is on a path to a lockdown, ending its cycle of innovation--and facilitating unsettling new kinds of control.

IPods, iPhones, Xboxes, and TiVos represent the first wave of Internet-centered products that can't be easily modified by anyone except their vendors or selected partners. These "tethered appliances" have already been used in remarkable but little-known ways: car GPS systems have been reconfigured at the demand of law enforcement to eavesdrop on the occupants at all times, and digital video recorders have been ordered to self-destruct thanks to a lawsuit against the manufacturer thousands of miles away. New Web 2.0 platforms like Google mash-ups and Facebook are rightly touted--but their applications can be similarly monitored and eliminated from a central source. As tethered appliances and applications eclipse the PC, the very nature of the Internet--its "generativity," or innovative character--is at risk.

The Internet's current trajectory is one of lost opportunity. Its salvation, Zittrain argues, lies in the hands of its millions of users. Drawing on generative technologies like Wikipedia that have so far survived their own successes, this book shows how to develop new technologies and social structures that allow users to work creatively and collaboratively, participate in solutions, and become true "netizens."

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Shmuel510 - LibraryThing

On the one hand, this is mistitled. I kept waiting for the big explanation of how to stop the potentially bad future of the Internet, and the author never really delivered on that. It should have been ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - SR510 - LibraryThing

On the one hand, this is mistitled. I kept waiting for the big explanation of how to stop the potentially bad future of the Internet, and the author never really delivered on that. It should have been ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (2008)

Jonathan Zittrain is the George Bemis Professor of International Law at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Director of the Harvard Law School Library, and Co-Founder of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. His research interests include battles for control of digital property and content, cryptography, electronic privacy, the roles of intermediaries within Internet architecture, human computing, and the useful and unobtrusive deployment of technology in education.

He performed the first large-scale tests of Internet filtering in China and Saudi Arabia, and as part of the OpenNet Initiative co-edited a series of studies of Internet filtering by national governments: Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering; Access Controlled: The Shaping of Power, Rights, and Rule in Cyberspace; and Access Contested: Security, Identity, and Resistance in Asian Cyberspace.

He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Board of Advisors for Scientific American. He has served as a Trustee of the Internet Society, and as a Forum Fellow of the World Economic Forum, which named him a Young Global Leader, and as Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at the Federal Communications Commission, where he previously chaired the Open Internet Advisory Committee.

Bibliographic information