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.
If you are into the destructive things people have done using the InterWeb, then this is the book for you. Read morePublished 16 months ago by S I P Adam
In the Introduction to this 2008 book, Jonathan L. Zittrain (born 1969; a professor of Internet law at Harvard Law School) predicts that "the future unfolding right now is very... Read morePublished on June 11, 2012 by Steven H Propp
This is a subject I'm pretty familiar with, I actually spoke at his cyberlaw class once. I've participated in many open source discussions and debates, and I've heard the... Read morePublished on March 2, 2012 by Joseph Born
I was disappointed in this book. It has a very good title - we are nearly all interested in the future of the net. Read morePublished on January 20, 2011 by Russell Telfer
In this book, Professor Jonathan Zittrain makes implausible predictions of a dystopian future, presenting fallacious arguments and unsatisfying evidence for them. Read morePublished on December 28, 2010 by L. B. Glass
I saw a video of a talk he gave which seemed to be a prelude to this book. I liked his talk and presentation style, so I read the book. My review is in the middle of the road. Read morePublished on August 21, 2010 by AmazonShopper
Anyone interested in the future of freedom should read Jonathan Zittrain's book, The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It. Read morePublished on January 17, 2010 by Oliver Demille
This book was way too long. Much of the book seems repetitive. That being said, there were some very interesting and valuable concepts explained in the book.Published on July 20, 2009 by Mike Liptak
Despite the title "the Future of the Internet", more than half the book is about its past including the history of PCs. In simple words, the book was boring. Read morePublished on May 8, 2009 by F. Zaki