Top critical review
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Wonderful Exposition Poor Persuasion
on September 15, 2008
This book should have either been 150 pages shorter and simply an argument or 100 pages longer with fully developed ideas. Zittrain frequently references and discusses the idea of "generativity" and changes the definition at each usage. Sometimes it means "creativity" sometimes it means "openness" and sometimes it means "freedom", while all these ideas are tied to generativity, none are categorical or clear. It seems to be a shorthand for "computer good stuff" in the same way the word "umami" or "freedom" is used with several means and a body of meanings that's poorly defined.
The book also references several seeming contradictions that I felt were poorly addressed. The opening of the book talks about the triumph of the Internet because of its openness over walled garden, then says that it's under thread by tethered services, which the Internet had initially bested.
Hacking isn't referenced for devices like DVRs, iPhones, and other such beasts.
DRM is entirely ignored as well as its failure in the music realm. I think the Sony Rootkit debacle would have served as a nice piece.
Finally, the book's title includes "and how to stop it". I don't recall much in the book that actively tells the read what to do to stop a tethered device dominated network nor what legislation should be avoided or promoted.
The center bits on generativity and how it pops up in everyday life was both informative and interesting. Maybe this book should have been broken into two parts rather than the odd mingling that took place in this text.