In an earlier post I discussed Jonathan Zittrain’s concept of tethered, non-generative internet-based devices vs generative devices in his book The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It. Zittrain was concerned that tethered devices, such as Apple’s iPhone (I have one) would result in more control by corporations over users of these devices, as opposed to the open, flexible nature of the Internet and PC’s that enable the user to tinker. Tethered devices enable the company that developed them to tinker, not the user.
And today, it was announced that Apple does have the ability to manage our iPhones, and indeed has the capability of disabling any application that users have downloaded from its Apps Store. In popular lingo, it is known as the “Kill Switch.” According to Apple, the switch would only be used if it felt “malicious” software was downloaded from the Apps Store.
This revelation supports Zittrain’s thesis that the Internet and PC’s are moving on a pathway of control, and management that was not characteristic of the development of the Net. In his book, Zittrain devotes an entire chapter to “The Lessons of Wikipedia,” which is an online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Zittrain uses Wikipedia as an example of an open, flexible use of the Internet, and in this case, anyone can register (for free, and without disclosing their identity), and begin to edit and even write original articles on topics from antelopes to zebras. If you have not contributed to Wikipedia, I recommend that you explore this interesting and amazing open system. You can log in/create an account here.
Am I going to turn in my iPhone? No. But I recommend that you read Jonathan Zittrain’s book, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It!Tags: generative devices, iphone, Jonathan Zittrain, Kill Switch, tethered appliances