Jonathan Zittrain speaks about his new book, The Future of the Internet - And How to Stop It.
About the Book
North Korean radios that are altered to receive only the official stations. Cars that listen in on their owners’ conversations. Digital video recorders ordered to self-destruct in viewers’ homes thanks to a lawsuit against the manufacturer thousands of miles away. Jonathan Zittrain’s extraordinary book pieces together the engine that has catapulted the Internet ecosystem into the prominence it has today—and explains that it is sputtering precisely because of its runaway success. With the unwitting help of consumers, the Internet is on a path to a lockdown, a closing off of opportunities and innovation.
Zittrain explains that the Internet and much of what is built on top of it is “generative”—it welcomes change from anyone, anywhere. The benefits of generativity are innovative output (new things that improve people’s lives), and participatory input (the opportunity to connect with other people, work with them, and express oneself). But security issues online, like viruses, spyware, and invasions of privacy, will see this generative infrastructure replaced by fashionable “tethered appliances,” including iPods, iPhones, Xboxes, and TiVos. These devices are not generative—they can’t be modified easily by users, even as they are continuously regulated and controlled by their makers. Zittrain offers an accessible discussion of the looming problems of an “appliancized” future and provides a set of visionary solutions to help stop it.