The Future of the Internet explains the engine that has catapulted the Internet from backwater to ubiquity—and reveals that it is sputtering precisely because of its runaway success. With the unwitting help of its users, the generative Internet is on a path to a lockdown, ending its cycle of innovation—and facilitating unsettling new kinds of control. 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 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.”
This project is meant to put the themes of this new book into practice and to facilitate an ongoing conversation about something that will affect us all.
The Institute for the Future of the Book has designed this platform, through which readers can engage with the text, with Jonathan Zittrain, and with each other. Each passage has a dynamic margin to the right, where one can post responses and annotations to individual paragraphs.
This is a collaborative experiment, which will depend on the intelligent participation of readers for its success. We invite you to join in and take part in this important conversation.