Future Net

April 11, 2008 at 7:44 am | Posted in Internet, Security | Leave a comment

Will the future of the Internet be the wide open field of experimental possibilities that the PC fostered? (like blogs) Or will it be a network of control. Certainly some parties would like to control it more. In this article, they interview Internet scholar Jonathan Zittrain on the subject of his new book, “The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It.” The controlled version that is, which appliances like the iPhone unintentionally represent.

“We have grown weary not with the unexpected cool stuff that the generative PC had produced, but instead with the unexpected very uncool stuff that came along with it,” he writes. “Viruses, spam, identity theft, crashes: all of these were the consequences of a certain freedom built into the generative PC. As these problems grow worse, for many the promise of security is enough reason to give up that freedom.”

Zittrain argues that if the cybersecurity situation doesn’t improve, we will migrate to a different kind of Internet. The new Internet will have as its endpoints tethered appliances such as iPhones, which are controlled by their manufacturers, instead of open, changeable PCs attached to an open network that can foster the next round of disruptive innovation. (See our slideshow of iPhone clones.)

“The future is not one of generative PCs attached to a generative network. It is instead of appliances tethered to a network of control,” he warns.

No spam or viruses, but no fun either. Would be a pity. The bigger question is whether the net-aware would be enough to sway popular opinion. I know many who see the net as a dangerous place. And even net-aware that would be oblivious to this consequence. It somehow seems unlikely that the wide open would go away but if most people migrate to controlled sub-nets, who would we be left to talk to here? Worth thinking about.


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