Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday TED Talk: Jonathan Zittrain on What Makes the Internet Work

There will not be any TED talk published next Friday, which is Christmas. (Instead I will have a special post about the Nativity and the Star of Bethlehem.) And the next talk will be on New Years Day in 2010. For this last talk of 2009, therefore, I have chosen one which is on a subject most near and dear to all of us involved with blogs (writing them, or reading them -- it does not matter), and that is on what makes the Internet work. How does a medium that is so susceptible to interference and deliberate sabotage manage to deliver its goods so much of the time? Have you ever thought about that?

Jonathan Zittrain teaches on Internet law at Harvard, and is co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society there. He has done extensive study on the social forces behind the Internet -- both those that prop it up and those that would undermine it. (Among the latter are what he calls "tethered" devices, from iPhones to Xboxes, which limit your use of the Internet to specific channels and areas of access, as well as the recent proliferation of spyware, spam and just plain old bad legislation.) In the talk below, he brings out the fascinating positive character of the Internet, and what it says about society -- for example, its thousands and thousands random acts of kindness:

You may read more about Prof. Zittrain at this page, and here is a link to his fascinating site which is well worth your visit: The Future of the Internet. You may watch the talk in high-resolution video from this link, and download his talk in that and other formats from this page.

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