Is Success Killing the Internet?
Is the Internet as we knew it - an open platform for innovation - a victim of its own commercial success? In his important new book, Jonathan Zittrain argues that both the Internet and the PC are on a path to a lockdown, devolving into "tethered appliances" that reduce our freedom to innovate. Zittrain argues that the openness of PCs and the Internet spawned an abundance of connectivity and creativity, but have also brought us a growing scourge of spam, viruses, identity theft, and even cyber-terrorism. Zittrain fears we may increasingly accept restricted devices and closed networks as an alternative. Adam Thierer argues that fears about a loss of openness and innovation are "wildly exaggerated" and, he fears, a pretense for more "net neutrality" and other regulation. In his new Manifesto for Media Freedom, Thierer argues that not only is the Net not dying, but there are signs that digital innovation and online openness are thriving as never before. Thanks to the Internet, we enjoy an unprecedented media abundance beyond what we could have imagined even a decade ago. Is the iPhone, for example, a sterile "information appliance" - and the harbinger of a locked-down wireless future? Or is it a positive reflection of consumer demand for devices that simply work well, leaving plenty of other options for innovators?