Post I.T. - Washington Post Technology Blog Frank Ahrens Sara Goo Sam Diaz Mike Musgrove Alan Sipress Yuki Noguchi Post I.T.
Tech Podcast
The Bloggers
Subscribe to this Blog

Lessig & Zittrain talk at Google Washington

Mike Musgrove

It was a geek double-header at Google's Washington offices yesterday afternoon, where Professor Jonathan Zittrain of Oxford University and Professor Larry Lessig of Stanford Law School showed up to share some of their thoughts about the future of the Web.

Zittrain's talk was based around his new book, "The Future of the Internet -- And How To Stop It."

His thesis, in the book, is that the prevalence of spam and malware may be setting the Web on a path to a kind of appliance-driven lockdown. The Web, Zittrain argues, became important because of the open-ness of the personal computer, on which any programmer could come up with and develop crazy, innovative, world-changing ideas. But the threat of faulty code and spyware, among other problems, means that the world is starting to turn to closed systems -- like TiVos, Xboxes and iPhones -- that can't as easily be modified by users or gifted programmers.

Lessig, in his talk, talked about his worries of what he sees as a probably-inevitable Internet-wide disaster

Lessig said he thinks that an "e-911" will likely take place at some point down the road, but he's most worried that the government will use an hacker-caused Internet shutdown or outage as an excuse to further ramp up online surveillance and to further do away with online privacy.

"We need to prepare for this choice now," he warned.

Lessig did not bring up his possible candidacy for a congressional seat in San Francisco.

If anybody who also attended the talk wants to tack on more of Zittrain's or Lessig's arguments here, please do so.

By Mike Musgrove  |  March 21, 2008; 9:58 AM ET  | Category:  Mike Musgrove
Previous: Red Octane Comes to Washington | Next: Playlists Are the New Albums


Add Post I.T. to Your Site
Stay on top of the latest Post I.T. news! This easy-to-use widget is simple to add to your own Web site and will update every time there's a new installment of Post I.T.
Get This Widget >>


Blogs That Reference This Entry

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/20277

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



unless they mention Usenet or IRC these individuals do not even know the depths of the internet, and cannot fathom its true power or potential.

a discussion of the future of the internet, without mention of these two extremely HISTORICALLY important systems, falls far short of making any accurate predictions about the internet as a whole.

Posted by: haha | March 21, 2008 2:57 PM

A smart move by Obama today to call for senate investigation of executive branch snooping into computer records reminds me of Hillory's getting FBI files of her political foes when she was first lady and gets us past the really stupid, trumped up scandal of Rev. Write's one or two regretable remarks made many years ago. They can read your e-mail, snail mail, listen in on phones and anything else nowadays and somebody has to draw the line soon.

Posted by: DotCom | March 21, 2008 3:28 PM

As a software professional, I am amused by the naivety of Lessig & Zittrain, as they call Tivos, Xboxes and (the funniest one), iPhone's platforms "closed" systems (they all have been "opened" many times over), while calling the Net "open" - it is as open as the given node in it (a computer) and/or the subnet that is connected to. Close one of the components, and you get the "closed" system.

Posted by: Javaman | March 21, 2008 3:41 PM

Did I really just see two comments characterizing Lessig as naive or unaware of usenet? Are you people for real?

I don't know if you computer "professionals" have heard of "Google" -- but go ahead and Google Larry Lessig before you say anything else as stupid.

Posted by: James D. Newman | March 21, 2008 5:01 PM

Larry Lessig already decided not to run for Congress. See http://www.lessig.org/blog/2008/02/on_why_i_am_not_running.html

Posted by: Asdf | March 21, 2008 5:20 PM

[... "e-911" will likely take place at some point down the road, but he's most worried that the government will use an hacker-caused Internet shutdown or outage as an excuse to further ramp up online surveillance and to further do away with online privacy....]

Any why not? As it is, who knows what goes on behind your monitor and CPU. Perhaps a more sinister surveillance has already begun without you even knowing it..

Posted by: fortheclueless | March 23, 2008 2:49 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2009 The Washington Post Company