Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Future of the Internet

I had the opportunity to hear Jonathan Zittrain speak at the recent Gartner Symposium.  He wrote about the future of the internet in a book called The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It and I have to say it is a very thought provoking book. 

When he spoke at the symposium he showed us a future where the huge leverage possible by the low cost of the internet can bring some unexpected things into our future.   He gave an example in his presentation where a government(or any group) could identify the names of people in pictures by creating a game on the internet to map names to pictures.    A government might have a huge database of passport photos and it is possible to create a game on the internet where people around the world help map the passport photos to the pictures of the crowd.   I hadn't seen that one coming but it is obvious now.     Kids games on the internet could be doing work for companies, groups or countries. 

I'm about 1/2 way through the book and so far he is talking about the likelihood that consumers will shift back towards move controlled appliances (iPhone/iPad) and away from the more open PCs because they are getting tired of the risks of such open platforms.   The open nature of the internet makes it too easy for bad things to happen to good endpoints.   So we will start using closed endpoints more in the future.

Lots of interesting things to think about.

If you haven't changed your passwords on your accounts recently, it is time.


  1. Hi Mark,

    I do like Prof. Zittrain’s writings, especially his recent articles on Ubiquitous Human Computing (UHC) and its implications on policy, ethics and morality. Ubiquitous Human Computing is fast becoming a reality with software libraries like MIT’s turKit being built to integrate the power of UHC in existing computer applications.

    However I don’t quite agree with his thoughts and blogposts about the shift towards more controlled appliances like Kindle and iPhone. I don’t think a more controlled marketplace like iPhone’s AppStore is the answer. Nor is a socially vetted app store like Android Marketplace. Social consensus does not prevent distribution of nefarious apps. We need a more balanced approach.

    I like android’s market-driven approach, but the marketplace needs to provide a way to verify the identity of the customer reviewing an App i.e. a way to ensure that the reviewer is who she says she is. Without this verification the reviews are totally useless. For all I know, the developers themselves could be reviewing their own apps. Also the reviewers have to be categorized based on the size of the organization they represent. For e.g. if I work for a large enterprise, I may be more comfortable reading reviews about a chat client for iPhone from folks who work for organization that have 10,000+ employee, etc.

    We need a way to establish the “Trustiness” of the App Vendor and the people who review them. An App Marketplace that can only provide browsing, searching, filtering of these apps is pretty much useless.


  2. I agree that Trust is a key concept and the foundation. However, I also think that most people are lazy and prefer someone to just solve that problem for them. Your points are good and I'll stop by and read his blog. Thanks!