When I first heard about Jonathan Zittrain’s The Future of The Internet And How To Stop It I wasn’t too impressed — I figured it was another one of those “technology will destroy us all” diatribes and summarily dismissed it.
Boy was I ever wrong.
I finally got around to reading it over the summer and quickly realized that this is a cautionary tale about the rise of Internet appliances.
Zittrain spends a good part of the book defining things that he calls generative — that is, devices and networks which have functionality far beyond the scope of what their creators could envision.
The personal computer, for example, is a generative device. It was conceived and brought to market before the Internet as we know it today even existed. And the Internet itself is a generative network, originally little more than a series of open protocols which made everything else possible.
Had these two innovations been locked down from the start we would be living in a very different world today. And as we supposedly enter the Post-PC era I fully agree with Zittrain that in our seduction by geegaws we’re in real danger of giving up the stuff that’s really important.
That’s why you won’t be reading much about the iPhone or Kindle around here. But if you stick around you’ll be treated to lots of good stuff about great things, things that are open.
Oh, and if you haven’t read Zittrain’s book you can buy it here. I get a couple of cents for the referral so thanks in advance. 🙂