How the iPhone Is Killing the Net

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Web 2.0 Threat

Zittrain sees similar threats with software-as-a-service Web sites, which he says are less generative than original PC software. With these Web 2.0 applications, PCs become dumb terminals merely running the Web browser, while all the functionality and data is hosted by the service provider. The end user has no control over changes made to the application. For example, Google could cancel its GoogleMaps service at any time, which would affect many mapping applications that were built on this service.

"The key move to watch is a sea change in control over the endpoint: lock down the device, and network censorship and control can be extraordinarily reinforced,'' he warns.

As an alternative to tethered appliances and Web 2.0 sites, Zittrain offers up the community-oriented approach of Wikipedia for solving the cybersecurity dilemma. In Chapter 6, Zittrain offers a glowing review of Wikipedia, from its humble origins to its success as one of the Internet's most popular Web sites. What Zittrain likes about Wikipedia is that it has few rules, it has a transparent process for editing articles, it fosters discussion, and it has a core of dedicated participants.

"Wikipedia rejects straightforward democracy, favoring discussion and consensus over outright voting, thereby sidestepping the kinds of ballot-stuffing that can take place in a digital environment," Zittrain says. He favors the self-governance model of Wikipedia along with the fact that it fosters "netizenship.''

Zittrain also writes favorably about the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet's premier standards body, which focuses on rough consensus and running code. Zittrain likes that the IETF favors better ``community ethics and policing'' in light of security breaches, rather than locked down appliances.

"Wikipedia shows us that the naivete of the Internet's engineers in building generative network technology can be justified not just at the technical layer of the Internet, but at the content layer as well,'' Zittrain says .``The idiosyncratic system that has produced running code among talented (and some not-so-talented) engineers has been replicated among writers and artists.

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