The Dark Side of Your Amazon Kindle e-reader.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 2:25PM
Ron Tarro in Books, Internet and Society, Privacy

(I continue grabbing a couple of my old reviews of favorite books and dropping them onto this blog. This one is from 2008.  This book legitimized my concerns that the individual is loosing their autonomy in the internet world. The author reignited some of the internet libertarianism of the 1990's and happily privacy and control remains an important issue today.)

The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It By Jonathan Zittrain

I read this book on my Amazon Kindle. Ironically this book describes why my Amazon Kindle (and for that matter your iPhone) may represent a problem for the information technology industry (and for all of us as individuals).

Zittrain describes how open devices and software platforms can faciltate innovation and how closed platforms don't. Further, he discusses how these emerging closed device platforms risk converting the internet into a tool for simplified corporate or governmental control of what you see and hear. This book, along with "The Big Switch" by Nicholas Carr, challenge the conventional cyber-utopian assumption that the internet will continue to be a wide open landscape where you independently (and privately) choose when and where you can go. The battle is for control of the end-point device.

Zittrain has certainly spotted the dark side of Web 2.0. He has specifically illuminated those selected design assumptions within and around the internet that can shift the net from a tool by which you manage your life -- to a tool by which others manage your life. This is a serious book that merges the future of technology with public policy (and without ever actually discussing public policy -- he instead wisely focuses on the implications of certain technology architectural choices).

"The Future of the Internet" is one of the first books to directly question the sustainability of cyber-libertarian assumptions about the internet. If you cherish those long standing assumptions, you may want to spend a little time on this book.  You can buy the book here: The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It .  Also here is Zittrain's blog on the evolution of the internet and privacy. 
Article originally appeared on The SalientVoice Journal (http://www.salientvoice.com/).
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