Is Success Killing the Internet?

A Web of Wide Open Innovation….Or Closed Appliances?

Is the Internet as we knew it – an open platform for innovation – a victim of its own commercial success?

These are the mottoes for a conference at the New American Foundation, tomorrow, 5th of November in Washington (USA). This event will bring together Jonathan Zittrain and Adam Thierer. Zittrain is the author of the “Future of the Internet and how to stop it”. He argues that the openness of the Internet brought connectivity and creativity, but at the same time spam, viruses, cyber-terrorism, etc. For Zittrain the future of the Internet might be closed networks and restricted devices, subverting the spirit of the Web. On the other hand, Adam Thierer, author of “Manifesto for Media Freedom” emphasizes that fears about a loss of openness and innovation are exacerbated. They are a façade used for more “net neutrality” and regulations. For Thierer the Net is undoubtedly alive and digital innovation and online openness are a reality as they were never before.

Yes, this will be an extremely interesting conference and debate of ideas about the future of Internet policy and regulation. But, don’t worry; even if you’re not in Washington, you can “attend” this event, as it will be webcast live here, starting at 3:30 EST.

Keynote Speakers:

Jonathan Zittrain

Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

The Future of the Internet

Adam Thierer

Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Digital Media Freedom,

Progress & Freedom Foundation

Co-Author, A Manifesto for Media Freedom

Michael Calabrese

Director, Wireless Future Program,

New America Foundation


David Gray

Director, Workforce & Family Program

New America Foundation

(My quick comment to the event on “comments” LOL)

2 thoughts on “Is Success Killing the Internet?

  1. Bárbara

    Got to love Zittrain’s example of the Cats who look like Hitler site…LOL….civic technologies?)

    The conference was really interesting; they both (Zittrain and Adam) have a point…and can find/present examples to back it up. This shows that things are so much more complex that we anticipate and define.

    Yes, the Internet has a potentiality for anarchy and chaos; for surveillance and crime, yes, it’s vulnerable, subverted and continuously “saved” by a group of geeks that work towards it (see the case of Wikipedia, where editors erase vandalism in 2 minutes), yes companies can turn the toaster you bought them into a juice machine (updating things without control) like Zittrain underlines. For Adam, however, this eschatological vision is exacerbated. And open source is, for instance, a sign of a continuing spirit of an open web (he even talks about open source hardware efforts). A strict control can even determine which contents we can access….

    So, yes, all this is true. The Internet is a socio-technical model and it can be used both for good and ill. And, yes, we need some regulations and legal frameworks, especially concerning privacy (but aren’t we simultaneously moving into a coveillance world, a kind of collective panopticon – where we all are monitored and monitor each other?). But we need “reasonable” regulations that can’t undermine the open structure of the Internet. That can’t block innovation and freedom. So, it was sad we couldn’t get a common ground for action, a new position that could complement both positions, because I really think they are not so antagonic: we can find definitely find a balance between them.

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