End is Near, The: The Future of the Internet Probably Won’t Be As Bright As We Think

Innovation and Economic Growth

Article Snapshot


Jonathan Zittrain


Playboy, June 2008


This short article describes how Internet technologies allow less freedom than before.

Policy Relevance

Individual users should take actions to resolve Internet security problems, so that we do not need to sacrifice freedom to corporate or government control.

Main Points

  • The early generations of Internet technology, including the personal computer, allowed users tremendous freedom and fostered innovation. Even ordinary users could start amazing projects like Wikkipedia. But this freedom eventually gave rise to spam and other security problems.

  • As the Internet becomes more popular, these security problems seem overwhelming. Software and devices that resolve these problems by locking down the Internet now appeal more to users.

  • Today many new technologies for the Internet like the Tivo, Amazon Kindle, and the iPod are closed to user innovation. They are secure, but are less likely to foster innovation.

  • User groups should form to work on security problems without sacrificing freedom. Harvard and Oxford universities have developed a program called StopBadware. Users can download software that helps other users spot bad code.

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