Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Generation Generators, April 11, 2009
This review is from: The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It (Hardcover)
The Internet has indeed evolved and it continues to create myriad social and legal questions far beyond battles over hacking and file sharing. In fact, technological control and government regulation are now the biggest issues, but they've largely escaped the public's notice. This book is a very useful primer on up-to-the-minute issues in cyberlaw, and Zittrain insightfully frames the history of the Internet from multiple social and technical perspectives. The Internet was once totally user-defined but is now in the process of being locked down into proprietary tethered devices under the control of for-profit corporations, with the (supposed) need for security against hackers, viruses, and copyright infringement. But in the process, the Internet is in danger of becoming little more than a mass media outlet, to the peril of public collaboration and cooperative programming.

These are truly worrisome issues, and Zittrain frames the problem very well, but as the book drags along his overall argument becomes more and more directionless. The first problem is that Zittrain expends far too much effort trying to add theoretical support to his concept of "generativity," reaching awkwardly into areas of education policy and social construction of technology that are not his forte. And while Zittrain maps out the potentially unhappy "Future of the Internet," he comes up short on "How to Stop It" - or even why. Surely a certain segment of netizens would wish to avert the coming disaster, but it's a disaster that probably only they can see. Zittrain bemoans, but largely evades, the fact that the overwhelming majority of current Internet users are passive consumers of information on sites like this one.

This book's main deficiency is not in framing the problem, but in making the need for solutions relevant to the huge demographic that really has some kind of say in the near future of the Internet. Besides, technology will still allow truly passionate netizens to abandon the locked-down and corporatized World Wide Web. Figuring out how to make everyone else care is still the 64 gazillion dollar question. [~doomsdayer520~]
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 7, 2012 8:20:45 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 7, 2012 8:33:23 PM PST
Fred Clancey says:
"becoming a mass media outlet" is suppose to include the growth of social media like twitter, Youtube and Facebook which have been so important for the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement? "Mass media outlet" would seem to deny the phenomena of WikiLeaks.
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