Sunday, 4 May 2008

Zittrain "The Future of the Internet - And How to Stop It" book & download

Jonathan Zittrain virtually needs no introduction: world-renowned expert and visionary on the internet and the law / society, professor at Oxford's Oxford Internet Institute and co-founder of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, his book "The Future of the Internet - And How to Stop It" just came out on 1 May.

I was lucky enough to be at the book launch in London, chaired by ORG head Becky Hogge, last week at the RSA. His lively, witty and informative talk at the launch was superb - and you can now play or download the MP3 audio podcast of Zittrain's talk at the launch of "The future of the internet". The webcast will be out in a week or two, I gather (unless the RSA people were meaning just the podcast). Watch it if you can, if only for the fun slides of happy Bill Gates mugshots and a hamster-powered shredder, and of course what Prof Zittrain said in relation to those slides - but you can hear all that on the podcast. I'd not come across Cats That Look Like Hitler, though I'd heard of couch surfing before! More seriously, see the BBC report on the talk, which sums it up well.

(Digression: another reason to catch the webcast - for anyone who has to do public speaking or lecturing, viewing it should be de rigeur. This is the way to use slides in a talk, instead of inflicting death by PowerPoint on the audience.)

You can:
A full review will follow once I've finished reading it, but he makes very good points, clearly and entertainingly. I'll just quote from the synopsis for now:
"...IPods, iPhones, Xboxes, and TiVos represent the first wave of Internet-centered products that can’t be easily modified by anyone except their vendors or selected partners. These “tethered appliances” have already been used in remarkable but little-known ways: car GPS systems have been reconfigured at the demand of law enforcement to eavesdrop on the occupants at all times, and digital video recorders have been ordered to self-destruct thanks to a lawsuit against the manufacturer thousands of miles away...As tethered appliances and applications eclipse the PC, the very nature of the Internet—its “generativity,” or innovative character—is at risk.

The Internet’s current trajectory is one of lost opportunity. Its salvation, Zittrain rgues, lies in the hands of its millions of users. Drawing on generative technologies like Wikipedia that have so far survived their own successes, this book shows how to develop new technologies and social structures that allow users to work creatively and collaboratively, participate in solutions, and become true “netizens.”"

And, while I shouldn't gloat, I managed to get a signed copy of the book, with a little personalised message, yay! Ultra-intelligent, sharp, funny, a fab speaker as well as writer, and a lovely man too - don't you just want to hate him? (/fan mode).

Go read the book and join the group annotation of the book!

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