Sterylized cyberspace

The last issue of New Left Review published a text called “Sterilizing cyberspace” , Daniel Miller’s book review of Jonathan Zittrain’s The future of the Internet – And how to stop it. Zittrain is professor of the Oxford Internet Institute of Oxford Universitye and was co-founder of Berkman Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. In his book, Zittrain distinguishes two types of Internet user: the traditional one, curiously more flexible, and the iPhone consumer. The first model is generative, the second one is not; all comes pre-programmed.

Jonathan Zittrain and Miller’s book review talk about convergence as well. In Miller’s opinion, this concept fits better than Zittrain’s oposition between generative and esterile models on the Internet. Miller prefer not to consider convergence as a fusion of different information flows in just one integrated system. but consider it as the influence of those technologies in everyday life, because now memory and processor are cheap and centralized institutions are not the only way of socialization. The great problem os Zittrain’n oposition (Miller says that this is a classical liberal point of view) is the oposition between freedom and security, between public and private spheres.

As Jonathan Zittrain says, the great advantage of the Internet is that it has been able to produce “unanticipated changes” like Hotmail, Google, Wikipedia or YouTube, participative systems. The proprietary model treats this fragile ecology. Internet is, thus, both a system that offers great opportunities and a space vulnerable to the trend of the huge market.

PC, says Jonathan Zittrain’s, will be substituted by mobile devices like the iPhone, elegant, multifunctional and… esterile. E-paper devices and e-books are more restrictive.

[Some newspaper entreprises in Europe, concretely in FranceNetherland, Scandinavia, United Kingdom, the United States and Japan, are trying e-paper editions].

Communciation channels are always control channels, in Zittrain’s opinion. Daniel Miller’s review insists on a real problem: whether, as mainstream discours says, internet is a greater space for free ideas and information independent from powers ans institutions, or it is not.

Jonathan Zittrain book reference:

Zittrain, Jonathan. The Future of the Internet—And How to Stop It. London: Allen Lane, 2008.


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