Can We Stop Asking For A New Internet?
from the chicken-little dept
To be fair, the Internet certainly has its flaws, and there is nothing wrong with researching ways to improve it. In fact, it is something we should encourage. The problem, though, comes from the breathless style in which so many of these stories are written. By inducing FUD in the general population, it increases the likelihood that people will shift to closed systems without thoughtful analysis of what will be lost. As Jonathan Zittrain explained in his recent book, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, a shift away from open, generative platforms will decrease peoples' abilities to innovate widely and inexpensively. The fact is, by trying to stop people from doing certain things (spamming, for instance), any new network's architecture will have unintended consequences that will preclude all sorts of future innovations. As Techdirt contributor Tim Lee has noted, open platforms are perpetually in peril, but they have the benefit of flexibility and adaptation by virtue of their decentralization; this provides for long-term stability and security.
And, finally, all this talk about a "new" locked down Internet seems to leave out the most important point: there's no evidence that any users actually want such a new Internet or would switch. We've had locked down systems (remember AOL?), and people went to the more open Internet. And they did so for a very good reason. For all the dangers of an open platform, it also gets all the benefits of rapid innovation.