Network World - Is the iPhone killing the Net? That's the question posed by Oxford University Professor Jonathan Zittrain in his new book, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It.
Zittrain is a bona fide member of the digiterati — a cyberlaw scholar with multiple degrees from Yale and Harvard. He is the professor of Internet government and regulation at Oxford University and co-founder of Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. His latest book is due for release April 14.
Zittrain argues that today's Internet appliances, such as the iPhone and Xbox, hamper innovation. That's because these locked-down devices prohibit the kind of tinkering by end users that made PCs and the Internet such a force of economic, political and artistic change.
Zittrain understands why appliances are attractive to the average Internet user. They're neatly packaged, they're easy to use, and they're reliable
"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.
Zittrain doesn't predict that PCs will become extinct any time soon. But he worries that PCs are being locked down and prohibited from running the open source code that has driven much of the Internet's new functionality.
"If the security problems worsen and fear spreads, rank-and-file users will not be far behind in preferring some form of lockdown — and regulators will speed the process along,'' Zittrain says. What we will lose in this transition is "a world where mainstream technology can be influenced, even revolutionized, out of left field.''
Zittrain's book traces the history of the general-purpose PC and how it surpassed mainframe terminals and niche devices such as word processors. The strength of the PC, he says, is that it was designed to run third-party software instead of only software written by the manufacturer.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- What Datapipe customers need to know about the new PCI DSS 3.0 compliance standard This handy quick reference outlines what PCI DSS 3.0 is, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the new...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- The Critical Role of Support in Your Enterprise Mobility Management Strategy Most business leaders underestimate the importance of tech support when they choose an EMM solution. Here's what to put on your checklist.
- Separating Work and Personal at the Platform Level: How BlackBerry Balance Works BlackBerry® Balance™ separates work from personal on the same mobile device, right at a platform level. Find out how it can work for...
- Live Webcast Best Practices for the Hyperconverged Enterprise Network To the Age of Constant Connectivity and Information overload
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of... All Networking White Papers | Webcasts