The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It
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.”
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Even if the generative Internet is preserved, those who stand to lose from the
behaviors taking place over it will maintain pressure for change. Threats to the
technical stability of the newly expanded network are not the only factors at work
... to my students and me— and the beginning of a series of regular visits
between ZIP codes 02139 and 02138 that, in the span ofan hour or two, opened
up new avenues of thinking for me about the way the Internet does and does not
27, 2006, http://www.technologyreview.com/ InfoTech/wtr_16427,258,p1.html.
See Technology and Instruction, Accessing the Internet!, http://www.coastal.edu/
education/ti/internetaccess.html (last visited June 1, 2007) (“In the late eighties
58 (2007) ; Byron Hittle, An Uphill Battle: The Dzjyficulty ofDeterring and
Detecting Perpetrators of Internet Stock Fraud, 54 FED. COMM. L.]. 165 (2001);
K. A. Taipale, Internet and Computer Crime: System Architecture as Crime
IMTEC-89-57; see generally Mark W. Eichin 8c ]ohn A. Rochlis, With Microscope
and Tweezers: An Analysis of the Internet Virus of November 1988 (1989) (paper
presented at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy) (providing a ...