The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It

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There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It is a major work of business, legal and policy research that will be less accessible to most people, but important to those looking to understand the future direction of today's ecommerce world. Zittrain is both a technologist and a lawyer and he appears to be writing this book more to influence policy and thinking rather than proposing a specific solution. 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 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. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. If you are into the destructive things people have done using the InterWeb, then this is the book for you.

There are fascinating tidbits in addition to the many things we all seem to know. Well worth the read. One person found this helpful 2 people found this helpful. I read this book on my Amazon Kindle. Ironically this book describes why my Amazon Kindle and for that matter your iPhone may represent a problem for the information technology industry and for all of us as individuals. 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.

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. If you cherish those long standing assumptions, you may want to spend a little time on this book. The field of cyberlaw, or the law of the Internet -- a field I helped birth Code: 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 i 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. It's an interesting argument -- like, I'm glad I read it -- but my rating reflects the fact that there just isn't that much else too it.

Oct 23, Ev rated it it was amazing. Indeed, I'm not exaggerating - this book had me starstruck from page 1, mainly because I know relatively little about the internet and am beyond curious to explore its engineering. But on an intuitive level, I knew the issues and potential paths for evolution Zittrain described are a mirror of our own human situation - the necessity to evolve governance to preserve generativity at our core.

This, I believe, will be the defining challenge of my generation. That additional 6th 6 stars. That additional 6th star is for going beyond what most pop-intellectuals do these days: But Zittrain lays out detailed potential solutions, and what their potential outcomes would look like. Even if he's wrong, he gets my utter admiration. Highly highly highly recommended reading, which is free for download here: Jun 18, Ben Babcock rated it really liked it Recommended to Ben by: This was a very fascinating book.

Some of the technical language may be new to a reader who is not already knowledgeable on computers and networking. Beyond the vocabulary, however, the book is accessible to newcomers to the field. Zittrain writes with an open invitation to discuss, talking with the reader rather than lecturing the reader.

He admits that he does not have all the answers to the rather large problems the Internet faces. On the other hand, unlike many alarmists, he at least tries t This was a very fascinating book. On the other hand, unlike many alarmists, he at least tries to propose some sort of positive solution instead of simply throwing up his hands to say, "We're doomed. The major one is, of course, generativity. The other one was the procrastination principle--I operate on this, although I never named it such, and it's a pretty good name.

So the book was worth reading for that alone.

The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It

His perspectives on generativity, the procrastination principle, the Internet's development and future, etc. He presents a concise history of the Internet's development. I found the historical anecdotes entertaining and informative, such as the one about how a Cap'n Crunch cereal whistle could be used to get free phone calls. These anecdotes provide insight into how the Internet came to be and how it works today. The book makes me think too, and that's always good. I'd already been considering how "appliances" like the iPhone were affecting the Internet and our own freedom, so Zittrain provided a concurrent dialogue that helped me form my own opinions.

His conclusion is essentially a call-to-arms; his theme something similar to "Why Can't We Be Friends? The cynical part of me isn't very hopeful. It's too much to ask of the average person to attempt to understand this nebulous thing we call "the PC. We seem to be at an impasse! So the future will arrive, and we will hopefully be better informed, if not wiser. Jul 02, Michael rated it really liked it Recommended to Michael by: Berkman Center, gift from Mike. I read the first pages of this book as an ebook free download: I learned that I will prefer dead trees to ebooks unless a tablet PC or other device changes my mind as I suspect it will.

For me, Zittrain is, for the most part, preaching to the choir. Still, Zittrain told some gems that I didn't know about, and most of his analyses are poignant and clearer or more fully thought-out than my own. I'd estimate a quarter to a third of the book was new to me. Some have criticized his analysis as being black and white, but how else do you communicate to someone the nature of a spectrum but by describing each comprising end and the defining variable?

I would recommend this book to everyone I know if only because it is impossible for me to effectively summarize these pages into a few minutes if I can even hold the floor that long in a conversation. On top of that, the amount of information consolidated in this book is incredible--after the text of pages comes 80 pages of references to the full stories, about a quarter of the book's length.

To Zittrain's credit, he does not attempt a sci-fi vision of the future, though he considers potentials that are possible from the current situation. The title of the book may be misleading for that reason and that the book deals more with the past and present than the future. I think everyone should know at least the base histories provided herein and agree with Zittrain that historical knowledge is key to avoiding mistakes as we move into the future.

One of the most intriguing ideas in the book is "verkeersbordvrij", Dutch for free of traffic signs, and how the philosophy plays out online. Experiments in several European towns have shown "dramatic improvements" in vehicular safety when nearly all traffic signs are removed. In an unsafe environment, drivers can no longer pay little mind to their actions assuming other drivers will follow rules. Aug 18, Andrew is currently reading it Recommends it for: I'm still ankle-deep in this book, and have been for some time.

Ok, so maybe that's a bit unfair. Zittrain makes fantastic points about the dangers of straying too far down either road anarchy vs. Orwellian iron-fistedness , and it really makes one stop and ponder just HOW we are going to move forward in an intelligent way given the seeming dichotomy we're facing. If you care at all about the fact that Apple has complete control over what you're allowed to do with your cell phone apps, this is highly recommended reason.

If you're still surfing dialup and utilizing AOL startup discs from the mail, then this book will help kick you into the 21st century. Forget about keeping up with the Joneses Feb 27, Wersly rated it really liked it. Intensely informative and motivating: He says something to the extent of his 'ideal computing environment actually being split into two distinct, non-communicating spaces, achieved through either virtualization or drive formatting; with one space used to house important and private documents and not actively used to access the internet, and another, easily reconfigured or expendable space used to house all recre Intensely informative and motivating: He says something to the extent of his 'ideal computing environment actually being split into two distinct, non-communicating spaces, achieved through either virtualization or drive formatting; with one space used to house important and private documents and not actively used to access the internet, and another, easily reconfigured or expendable space used to house all recreational materials, as well as surf the web in riskier ways.

But this is all aside the point - there's a lot more to this book than the stupid shit it motivated me to do. Zittrain balances a lot of healthy technology criticism against his own love for and knowledge of technology: Additionally, and quite interestingly, Zittrain draws a lot of influence from how digital culture has so far organized itself to suggest some principles as to how to proceed with government and regulation of the online-sphere - see his chapter on Wikipedia if you want to see this at its most developed.

This is a wonderful book; anyone serious about the current shape and progress of digital society should read it. You can read the whole thing for free here: Feb 16, Janet rated it it was amazing. Jun 24, Davis rated it really liked it.


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The first part discusses the state of the Internet today, painting a landscape filled with virus and malware infected PCs working in unison as botnets to carry out denial-of-service attacks or acting as virtual email servers flooding the net with millions of spam. All the while, the anti-virus software companies secretly throw their hands up in frustration and hopelessness.

As the book progresses, it tries to predict the consequences of these problems if not adequately addressed. And it also touches copyright and privacy issues.

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The author also provides solutions which seem possible, but somewhat dependent on assuming that the majority of people generally want to do good, as witnessed by the rise of Wikipedia which has its own chapter in the book. The book is well researched and the author seems very knowledgeable in this area. What prevented a 5 star rating is the fact that the writing is somewhat convoluted and verbose. This makes it all the more difficult for those not familiar with computer science concepts and terminology to comprehend the ideas and theories expressed in this book. The book is also downloadable in PDF format on the author's website, www.

This is very convenient as I plan to read it again. May 14, Victor Gonzalez rated it liked it. He explains his view on how this problems occurred and how they were handled. Zittrain has confusing view toward the beginning of the internet and it changes throughout the book. In the first section of the book there is a perception where Zittrain believes that the generative aspect of the Internet and the PC is harmful and that the continuance of this will harm the future development of them.

In the second part this view is different and he argues on the importance of this generative to drive innovation. The last part focus on providing different solution so that the internet and the PC can be preserve with the essence they were created initially. Throughout the book Zittrain mention various examples to explain his points can cover important issues such as those concerning privacy issues, patent and copyright problems, network neutrality and other issues.

Jun 26, Jen rated it liked it Shelves: I have my guesses of what the future of the internet is considering I went to a panel discussion with Jonathan Zittrain and Jimmy Wales. The panel is what inspired me to read this book and I'd been looking forward to it for a few years now. It was disappointing to see how dry and dense the book can be. There was a lot there that I'd already known being a CS major and web dev so it felt like I wasn't really learning anything. When I realized I wasn't even halfway done with it after a week of se I have my guesses of what the future of the internet is considering I went to a panel discussion with Jonathan Zittrain and Jimmy Wales.

When I realized I wasn't even halfway done with it after a week of several attempts and having no motivation to finish it, I just gave up. So yeah, I guess I'll never know what it is we're supposed to do to stop the internet's future. Maybe I'll read the Cliffnotes one day. Ahhh, the sky is falling!

The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It: Jonathan Zittrain: eywaapps.dk: Books

This book is a bit alarmist for my tastes, but I appreciate the historical perspective on proprietary models compared with shared models, and I do agree with a lot of Zittrain's alarm. I think that the cover image of the edition I read, of a train track going off the edge of a cliff, combined with the title, do a disservice to Zittrain's message. Although he does come across as almost conspiracist-y, he provides suggestions for improvement, and hope for the future.

He d Ahhh, the sky is falling! Nov 29, Jeb Benson rated it did not like it. I checked this book out after seeing it referenced in the Steve Jobs biography. The author's basic premise, that the Internet and related hardware technologies are teetering dangerously close to becoming closed systems to minimize risk at the expense of unknown serendipitous rewards like the Internet itself was , seems almost prescient and rings ever more true today in when consumers are being increasingly forced to consider and choose "ecosystems", e.

Apple, Microsoft, or Google, rather I checked this book out after seeing it referenced in the Steve Jobs biography. Apple, Microsoft, or Google, rather than "generative" technologies. However, this message is crystal clear after the Introduction and no one should have to suffer through the endless pages of dry material to find there are few, if any, meaningful suggestions on "How to Stop It" as this book claims. Nov 23, Kelly rated it really liked it Shelves: I read this book while researching network neutrality for school.

Zittrain has a very clear way of articulating current concerns about the internet. It's also a great brief history of the internet and an interesting look at what the future holds. It's a little sobering to read some of his takes on security issues on the internet especially the economic vulnerability part , but the information is relatively objective and helpful.

Jan 22, Jeffrey Hart rated it really liked it Shelves: A very good book on what should be preserved about the Internet "generativity" and how things might go wrong if "appliancization" such as that associated with the iPhone and other "tethered" devices goes too far. But there is much to admire in this emi A very good book on what should be preserved about the Internet "generativity" and how things might go wrong if "appliancization" such as that associated with the iPhone and other "tethered" devices goes too far.

But there is much to admire in this eminently sensible and well-argued book. Very important book on what we are about to lose if a handful of telephone and cable companies succeed in cementing their control over the Internet via control of broadband access. His writing style and syntax are awkward at times, and there is some unnecessary repetition.

But if you can get past these two minor annoyances, this is a an excellent overview of where the Internet came from — and where it will go if we do not take action to prevent the corporate enclosure of this communications co Very important book on what we are about to lose if a handful of telephone and cable companies succeed in cementing their control over the Internet via control of broadband access.

But if you can get past these two minor annoyances, this is a an excellent overview of where the Internet came from — and where it will go if we do not take action to prevent the corporate enclosure of this communications commons. Feb 20, Cara rated it liked it. This book offers an intriguing perspective on the internet and digital culture.

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Zittrain compares generative appliances like PCs that accept code from any source to tethered applicances like iPods that are completely locked down by the company and cannot be reprogrammed without illegally hacking into them and what an impact these two technological systems can have on our culture. It definitely made me think about the serious implications that seemingly simple digital choices can have on life.

Jul 25, Soh Kam Yung rated it liked it Shelves: Interesting look at how the Internet may look in the future. The author advocates a 'middle path' between a completely open internet where users fully decide what to access and completely closed tethered applications.


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Illustrated with the histories of internet technology like Wikipedia, Google, malware and the 'darknet', it makes for an interesting reading. Best read if you already have a 'feel' for internet based technologies as the author makes some technological assumptions on the part of the Interesting look at how the Internet may look in the future. Best read if you already have a 'feel' for internet based technologies as the author makes some technological assumptions on the part of the reader.

Sep 11, Jessica added it. Fairly interesting premise - that the generative nature of the internet that is more or less responsible for its rise in popularity will eventually transform it into a non-generative system as people shy away from the security risks of generativity Which is what he is talking about in the title I got confused and thought the "and how to stop it" referred to the internet itself, rather than the future.

Zittrain, however, is really really reall Fairly interesting premise - that the generative nature of the internet that is more or less responsible for its rise in popularity will eventually transform it into a non-generative system as people shy away from the security risks of generativity Zittrain, however, is really really really really in love with the internet, and its making me distrust his views. Sep 17, Azamali rated it really liked it Shelves: Jul 27, Desiree rated it it was ok.

Finally finished this one! Although Cliff Stoll's book is probably a close second, at least he was able to hold my attention. If you HAVE to read this one for a college class, good luck to ya! Otherwise, it's best left alone. The first or so pages seemed to go on and on about "generativity", saying the same thing over and over and over There are no discussion topics on this book yet. If you like books and love to build cool products, we may be looking for you.

Books by Jonathan L. See All Goodreads Deals…. Trivia About The Future of the Quotes from The Future of the PCs were to be only the delivery vehicles for data sent to customers, and users were not themselves expected to program or to be able to receive services from anyone other than their central service provider.

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