The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain – book review

The Sunday Times review by Tom StandageThe internet is falling! You may recently have read that it could soon be overwhelmed by an “exaflood” of streaming video, as people flock to YouTube and the BBC’s iPlayer.This is just the latest version of an idea that keeps reappearing in different guises. In 1995 Robert Metcalfe, an American networking guru, predicted that the internet would soon collapse. It didn’t, and Metcalfe duly ate his words, after liquidising them in a blender. More recently there have been claims that spam and viruses will bring down the internet.This doesn’t worry Jonathan Zittrain. In The Future of the Internet he claims that it is in danger in a more subtle way: its culture of innovation is under threat and we will all be the poorer for it. What makes the internet so valuable, says Zittrain, a professor of internet governance at Oxford University, is its “generative” nature – a handy term that encapsulates its open, anarchic and innovative essence.

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