“This book is fundamental. It will define the debate about the future of the Internet, long after we haven't stopped it. Absolutely required reading.”—Lawrence Lessig, Professor, Stanford Law School, and author of Free Culture and The Future of Ideas
"This remarkably researched and highly entertaining book is a must-read for all who take the ubiquitous nature of the Internet in our everyday lives for granted. The future of the internet is NOT a positive one, unless we all work collaboratively to ensure its lasting success. Zittrain’s analysis is first-class and should be widely heeded by leaders from all sectors of society."—Dr. Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman and Founder of the World Economic Forum
(Dr. Klaus Schwab)
“The most compelling book ever written on why a transformative technology's trajectory threatens to stifle that technology's greatest promise for society. Zittrain offers convincing road maps for redeeming that promise.”—Laurence H. Tribe, Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School
(Laurence H. Tribe)
“Jonathan Zittrain does what no one has before—he eloquently and subtly pinpoints the magic that makes Wikipedia, and the Internet as a whole, work. The best way to save the Internet is to turn off your laptop until you've read this book.”—Jimbo Wales, Founder, Wikipedia
“A superb and alarming discussion, from one of the most astute and forward-looking analysts of the Internet. Zittrain explains how the glorious promise of the Internet might not be realized—and points the way toward reducing the current risks. Absolutely essential reading."—Cass Sunstein, Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor of Jurisprudence, The University of Chicago Law School, and co-author of Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
"A useful starting point to understanding the choices that lie ahead."—Richard Waters, Los Angeles Times
(Richard Waters Los Angeles Times
"The Future of the Internet identifies and analyzes many of the key issues, obstacles, and tradeoffs that will define our future."—Science
"In the web counterrevolution that Jonathan Zittrain foresees, users will lose the ability to control content, companies will gain the power to censor data, and security will trump innovation. It's a gloomy scenario that his new book Future of the Internet, says is already underway."—Katie Baker, Newsweek
(Katie Baker Newsweek
"The thrust of Zittrain's book is that the shift back toward sterile technology cannot be entirely avoided, though the dangers can be mitigated. . . . Ignore Zittrain's warnings and we may prove his forecast right."—Paul Starr, The American Prospect
(Paul Starr The American Prospect
"This book is a must-read for any student of technology and policy, and its prescriptions are a must-do for the future of innovation in the digital age."—Hal Abelson, American Scientist
(Hal Abelson American Scientist
From the Author
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A conversation with Jonathan Zittrain
Q: You have a curious title to your book. Most people think the Internet is a good thing, so why try to stop it?
A: The Internet is a great thingand it's largely a historical accident that we have it at all. As late as the early 1990s, people in the know assumed that one of a handful of proprietary networks would be the network of the future. Those networks carefully groomed the content to be presented to people. The Internet came out of left field as an entity with no plan for content, no CEOnot even a main menu. PCs are similarly surprisingly successful. Unlike "information appliances" such as smart typewriters and word processors, the programs on a PC can come from anywhere. This has vaulted the PC into the front lines of business environments, not just homes. Unfortunately that's not how the future is shaping up. Our own choices, made in fear, are causing the most valuable features of our modern technology to slip away.
Q: You warn that the Internet, and the computers that sit on the ends of it, will become more like appliances if we aren’t careful. What do you mean by that?
A: Devices like Apple's iPhone are incredibly sophisticatedand flexible. But they can be programmed only by their vendors. That's very, very limitingand yet consumers will ask for that because it makes for a more consistent experience, and because our generative PC and Internet technologies are less and less useful due to spam, spyware, viruses, and other exploitations of their openness. We need to combat these exploitations in ways that don't sacrifice fundamental openness.
Q: Is it possible to have it both ways: to have a secure Internet that remains open to the possibilities you describe in your book?
A: Yes, and the book goes into detail about how we might thread this needle. If we fail, we return to the old models of consumer technology that we had already (and rightly) forgotten thanks to the Internet's success.