Tuesday, October 14, 2008

internet´s future

a number of reviews of Jonathan Zittrain´s book "The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It" have flown by in my mailbox in recent months. not that i´ve been following absolutely all of the reviews.
i´d attended at least two talks of Jonathan´s which were book-centric, as well as two other lectures that seemed to me more conceptually linked, though yet quite distinct from any book-talk. i´ve not read the book cover-to-cover yet (but have downloaded it!) so will merely and generally opine that there is always value in the cautionary tale.

i copy below part of a review of Zittrain´s book by Geert Lovink. the part of the review (though not quite having to do with the book per se...) that i found most interesting and most thought-provoking was with regard to the status/measure of one´s discipline (see below).
even so, i don´t quite agree with Lovink since it is not the case that all research in this area is merely a mapping exercise. further, there´s much value in trying to understand something before we try to shape it. experiences of colonialism ( to go off-topic a bit, yet still a salient analogy) attest to the folly in trying to shape something without (full) understanding.

"Funding bodies worldwide, categorically refuse to fund fundamental humanities research that,
like Zittrain, dares to look into the future. What we are left with are piles of PhDs that are condemned to remain unread as they merely map the impact the Internet on society–projects that are doomed to become history writing. How can we raise, and organize a new generation of technology-aware research that have the guts, and the creativity, to design a comprehensive field of critical concepts that can be implemented into code? We have to stop understanding the Internet, and start to shape it. That's the real Zittrain challange." (sic)

the entire Lovink review can be found in the nettime archive

but see also the more detailed Thierer review and commentary over at http://techliberation.com/2008/03/23/review-of-zittrains-future-of-the-internet/ and http://techliberation.com/2008/03/30/apple-openness-and-the-zittrain-thesis/

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