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The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop Itby Jonathan Zittrain
"Zittrain tells us that whatever the Internet's glorious adolescence, its middle age will be sharply shaped by the problem of computer security. 'Today's viruses and spyware,' he writes, 'are not merely annoyances to be ignored.' Zittrain has a graph showing the number of security incidents over the last decade, and it resembles the Dow Jones average over the 1990s. He predicts a coming crisis, grave measures, and, as 'security problems worsen and fear spreads,' broad acceptance of 'some form of lockdown.'" Tim Wu, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
Synopses & Reviews
This extraordinary book explains the engine that has catapulted the Internet from backwater to ubiquityand#151;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 innovationand#151;and facilitating unsettling new kinds of control.
IPods, iPhones, Xboxes, and TiVos represent the first wave of Internet-centered products that canand#8217;t be easily modified by anyone except their vendors or selected partners. These and#147;tethered appliancesand#8221; 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 toutedand#151;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 Internetand#151;its and#147;generativity,and#8221; or innovative characterand#151;is at risk.
The Internetand#8217;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 and#147;netizens.and#8221;
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.
About the Author
Jonathan L. Zittrain is the Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University and co-founder of Harvard Law Schooland#8217;s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. He lives in Oxford, UK, and Cambridge, MA.
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