Internet operates in layers, and so does much of the technology that
hooks up to it: PCs, mobile phones, tablets. Nearly two decades ago
those platforms were conceptually simple: a "generative" base offered by
one manufacturer, on which any third party could build. (Think:
Windows and the programs that run on it.) Some efforts by platform
makers to tip the scales in their favor in the layer above resulted in
extended controversy and regulatory efforts, such as over Windows coming
bundled with Internet Explorer. Today platforms are just as vital but
far more complex. We have hybrids like the iOS and Android operating
systems or the Facebook and Twitter platforms, where the platform makers
offer their systems as services rather than products, influencing and
sometimes outright limiting connection between users and independent
developers for those platforms. How should we think about these new
platforms? What counts as a "level playing field," and what
responsibility, if any, is there for public authorities to enforce it?
What lessons, if any, do the prior tangles offer for today?
Note: This course is jointly-listed with HKS as DPI-668 and SEAS as TBD.