London: The rise of gadgets such as iPhone, BlackBerry and Xbox threatens to unravel the decades of innovation that helped to build the Internet, a leading academic has warned in a new book.
Jonathan Zittrain of the Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University, says these devices are sealed, “sterile” boxes that stifle creativity and turn consumers into passive users of technology.
Unlike home computers, new Internet-enabled gadgets don’t lend themselves to the sort of tinkering and collaboration that leads to technological advances, he says.
“I don’t want to see a two-tier world where only the experts can survive...and the non-experts are stuck between something they don’t understand and something that limits them,” Zittrain said.
Zittrain says the iPhone is typical of what he calls “tethered appliances”. “They are easy to use, while not easy to tinker with,” he writes. “They are tethered because it is easy for their vendors to change them from afar, long after the devices have left warehouses and showrooms.”
They are a world away from the “generative Internet”, the open, creative, innovative approach that helped build the Internet, he said.