The Future of the Internet And How to Stop It

Jonathan Zittrain thinks a lot about the Internet. He also teaches cyber law at Harvard. He's concerned about who is going to control the Net. His book, The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It, is his alert.

I listened to a short podcast with Zittrain which was my introduction to him. He talks about "zombie computers" and you start to wonder if this guy is serious. Then I read that he is the co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, a professor at Harvard Law School, and also the Chair in Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University.

What is threatening the Net?

Well, those iPods, iPhones, Xboxes, and TiVos that most people find liberating are what he calls "tethered appliances" because they are a new generation of Net products that cannot be easily modified without the vendor's participation.

So, the threat is not only what but who - Verizon and Apple, for example.

He thinks the Internet is on a path to a lockdown and that lockdown will break the cycle of innovation.

He likes the 2.0 of Google apps and mashups and Facebook, but he also fears how these apps can be monitored and controlled by Google, Facebook and others and taken from user control. (Think of the recent Google Chrome and Facebook user rights blowups.)

The book is not all gloom and doom. It also talks about how to develop new technologies that allow users to work creatively and continue to innovate.

You can also follow Zittrain on his blog and this book is happily available to download under a Creative Commons license.


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