- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (April 14, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300124872
- ISBN-13: 978-0300124873
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,564,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It First Edition Edition
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“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
“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
“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
About the Author
He performed the first large-scale tests of Internet filtering in China and Saudi Arabia, and as part of the OpenNet Initiative co-edited a series of studies of Internet filtering by national governments: Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering; Access Controlled: The Shaping of Power, Rights, and Rule in Cyberspace; and Access Contested: Security, Identity, and Resistance in Asian Cyberspace.
He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Board of Advisors for Scientific American. He has served as a Trustee of the Internet Society, and as a Forum Fellow of the World Economic Forum, which named him a Young Global Leader, and as Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at the Federal Communications Commission, where he previously chaired the Open Internet Advisory Committee.
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This is fine, in my opinion, as Zittrain provides two important frameworks that define new ways of thinking about the net and its impact: the notion of generative technology and the idea that the value of that technology is moving from the network to the endpoints. The book describes these ideas and develops them into a range of policy and technical decisions facing business, political and judicial leaders.
In the Future of the Internet, Jonathan Zittrain provides a detailed analysis of the development of the Internet, the nature of networks, and the evolution of technology. This book concentrates on the central elements of what Zittrain calls "generative" solutions. A generative solution is one that provides a basis for innovation, new products and new sources of value through experimentation and individual innovation (ala Cheesbourgh's open innovation). Zittrain sees the Internet and the PC as generative technologies, which the clearly are. However he sees generative technologies go through a pattern where the openness and high levels of trust that made them generative and attracted new solutions soon fall prey to fraud, abuse and outright criminal activities.
Zittrain argues that this is what the Internet is going through now as SPAM, Malware, Phishing and other forms of cyber crime and mischief are eroding the value of the Internet as a generative platform. The book makes this argument in a very logical way with good examples. This takes up the first part of the book and is perhaps the best part.
Zittrain's idea is that as these generative technologies become compromised, the value potential moves from the network that connects devices to the devices themselves. Here is where he introduces the notion of appliance devices that are purpose build, not readily programmable at the functional level and give the consumer more protection and the provider more control. The notion that the value is moving away from the network is very intriguing; particularly interesting give the recent warm reception of appliances such as the iPhone, Wii, Tivo and others.
Overall this book is not for the faint of heart, nor for the casual reader of business and technology books. The text is well written, loaded with examples and details that will make for good cocktail party stories, but it is more of a policy book and a scholarly work than a business text.
CIOs should read the first half of the book with great interest as it lays out a new way of thinking about the network.
Corporate development officers at technology companies should read the whole book as it describes a possible legal, regulatory and economic framework for the future of technology.
Business leaders should read the first part of the book to understand the true nature and exposure they have in the current generative Internet era.
Zittrain describes how open devices and software platforms can faciltate innovation and how closed platforms don't. Further, he discusses how these emerging closed device platforms risk converting the internet into a tool for simplified corporate or governmental control of what you see and hear. This book, along with "The Big Switch" by Nicholas Carr, challenge the conventional cyber-utopian assumption that the internet will continue to be a wide open landscape where you independently (and privately) choose when and where you can go. The battle is for control of the end-point device.
Zittrain has certainly spotted the dark side of Web 2.0. He has specifically illuminated those selected design assumptions within and around the internet that can shift the net from a tool by which you manage your life -- to a tool by which others manage your life. This is a serious book that merges the future of technology with public policy (and without ever actually discussing public policy -- he instead wisely focuses on the implications of certain technology architectural choices).
"The Future of the Internet" is one of the first books to directly question the sustainability of cyber-libertarian assumptions about the internet. If you cherish those long standing assumptions, you may want to spend a little time on this book.
This book, in my view, radically changes the field. Zittrain has lived with network technologies since he was a kid (he ran the Compuserve Sys-Op forum before he could drive a car); he has watched the field develop first hand. And this book delivers a powerful understanding of what made the Internet great, and what we need to do to preserve it.
Here's one picture -- a single slice -- to understand the point: As Zittrain convincingly demonstrates, we're facing an i911 event. Not an Al Qaeda attack, but a significant, and devastating attack on Internet infrastructure, caused by one of very many who have deployed "malware" to the Internet. They may not intend it. But their work will, over the next 5 years, cause this event. And when it happens, governments will have everything they need to argue for a radical change in the freedom of the Internet. Both the freedom to innovate and the freedom to communicate/create/share. Unless we prepare now to resist the bad in that change -- by recognizing the threat and developing mature, sensible responses to the threat rather than by denying the threat and pretending someone the invisible mouse of the Internet will take care of everything -- we will lose, Zittrain convincingly argues, much of the potential of the net.
Best title, brilliantly and beautifully argued, and right: read this book.