Monday, July 07, 2008

Naughton on Zittrain

John has done a terrific review of Jonathan Zittrain's new book, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, at Management Today.

"Life without this digital ecosystem is now unthinkable - as Estonia discovered when it underwent a savage cyber-attack a year ago. And yet the very features that have made the internet such a creative force in our societies now threaten its future - as citizens, governments and corporations, exasperated or terrified by online mayhem, combine to 'lock down' and regulate the network. Such a future - if it came about - would implement an Orwellian nightmare of comprehensive surveillance and perfect enforcement. It might also strangle the technological goose that has laid so many golden eggs. And it will happen, unless we take avoiding action...

Zittrain's great insight is that the combination of the personal computer and the open internet created what he calls a 'generative system'. He defines generativity as 'a system's capacity to produce unanticipated social change through unfiltered contributions from broad and varied audiences'. In other words, an endless capacity for springing surprises...

The beauty of The Future of the Internet is that it's an ideal primer for the debate that we now need to have about all this."

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