Feeling like the world is becoming less friendly? Social theorist Jonathan Zittrain begs to difffer. The Internet, he suggests, is made up of millions of disinterested acts of kindness, curiosity and trust.
The increasing proliferation of "tethered" devices, from iPhones to Xboxes, is only one of countless threats to the freewheeling Internet as we know it. There's also spam, malware, misguided legislation and a drift away from what Internet law expert Jonathan Zittrain calls "generativity" -- a system's receptivity to unanticipated (and innovative) change instigated by myriad users.
Harvard law professor Zittrain, as an investigator for the OpenNet initiative and co-founder of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, has long studied the legal, technological and world-shaking aspects of quickly morphing virtual terrains. He performed the first large-scale tests of Internet filtering in China and Saudi Arabia in 2002. His initiatives include projects to fight malware (StopBadware) and ChillingEffects, a site designed to support open content by tracking legal threats to individual users.
"Zittrain's book, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, sounds ... a klaxon calling to arms everyone who believes that platforms open to user innovation should rule the world, not tethered, sterile appliances that are controlled only by their designers." - ArsTechnica