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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

a radically changing internet « Previous | |Next »
January 12, 2012

Jonathan Zittrain in The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It places the nasties of the internet in the middle of his analysis. The nasties are not just porn or spam. It's the viruses. The openness of the net means that as we load new software on our PCs more and more often that software is rogue—harvesting computing cycles from a PC in order to attack others, stealing personal information, steal network bandwidth or simply frying the PC. Then crash--the blue screen of death.

There have been two responses to the worsening security problem on computers to open platforms. The first reaction to the abuses of openness is to try to lock things down--- which Apple first took with the initial iPhone. No outside code at all was allowed on the phone; all the software on it was Apple’s.

The second model is premised on shifting more and more of software our away from our own devices and into the Internet’s “cloud.” Ztittrain says that:

These technologies can let geeky outsiders build upon them just as they could with PCs, but in a highly controlled and contingent way. This is iPhone 2.0: an iPod on steroids, with a thriving market for software written by outsiders that must be approved by and funneled through Apple. It’s also Web 2.0 software-as-service ventures like the Facebook platform and Google Apps, where an application popular one day can be banished the next.

This shift to stable, controlled form is likely the future of computing and networking. It is a wholesale revision to the open or generative Internet and PC environment we’ve experienced for the past thirty years: an environment designed to accept any contribution that followed a basic set of rules (either coded for a particular operating system, or respecting the protocols of the Internet).

Zittrain says that :

It’s important to realize that a cloud-based setup like Google Docs or APIs, or Facebook’s platform offer control similar to that of a managed device like an iPhone or a Kindle. All represent the movement of technology from product to service. Providers of a product have little to say about it after it changes hands. Providers of services are different: they don’t go away, and a choice of one over another can have lingering implications for months and even years.

Apples iPhone 2.0 model runs outside code after approval. Though third-party developers are welcome to write software for the phone, users could only install software on a phone only if it was offered through Apple’s iPhone App Store. Developers were to be accredited by Apple, and each individual app was to be vetted. Apps that emulated or even improved on Apple’s own apps weren’t allowed.

So the the app store provides a rough filter for bad code, and accountability against its makers if something goes wrong even after it’s been approved. It's a gated world as the ability to limit code is what makes for the ability to control content. Tech companies are in the business of approving, one by one, the text, images, and sounds that we are permitted to find and experience on our most common portals to the networked world.

The App Store model has boomeranged back to the PC. There’s now an App Store for the Mac to match that of the iPhone and iPad, and it carries the same battery of restrictions.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:58 PM | | Comments (1)
Comments

Comments

"The nasties are not just porn or spam. It's the viruses".

There's porn and spam and viruses, and there's also gambling. I have been astonished at the crass promotion of sports gambling in the broadcasts of sports events recently, especially the NRL games last season. There seems to be no good information on the amount bet on the internet, but it does seem to be growing. See the recent Parliamentary Committee report here:

http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/gamblingreform_ctte/interactive_online_gambling_advertising/report/index.htm

And of course we had the wonderful revelations last year about covert network participation in the campaign against Federal poker machine restrictions.