Networks/Zittrain: According to end-to-end theory, placing control and intelligence at the edges of a network maximizes not just network flexibility, but also user choice. (1) The political implication of this view—that end-to-end design preserves users’ freedom, because the users can configure their own machines however they like—depends on an increasingly unreliable assumption: whoever runs a machine at a given network endpoint can readily choose how the machine will work. To see this presumption in action, consider that in response to a network teeming with viruses and spam, network engineers recommend more bandwidth (so the transmission of “deadweights” like viruses and spam does not slow down the much smaller proportion of legitimate mail being carried by the network) and better protection at user endpoints, rather than interventions by ISPs closer to the middle of the network. (2)
Open highways do not mean freedom when they are so dangerous that one never ventures from the house.
The idea is that by reformulating our vision of the network to extend beyond mere “endpoints” and “middles,” we can keep our eyes on the real value at stake: individual freedom to experiment with new code and anything made possible by it, the touchstone of a generative system.
1. See Jonathan Zittrain, The Generative Internet, 119 HARV. L. REV. 1974, 1988—89 (2006).
2. See Saul Hansell, Spam Fighters Turn to Identifying Legitimate E-Mail, N.Y. TIMES, Oct. 6, 2003, at C1 (discussing authentication and other possible solutions for limiting spam); Yakov Shafranovich, 2004: The Year That Promised Email Authentication, CIR-CLEID, Dec. 27, 2004, http://www.circleid.com/posts/2004_the_year_that_promised_ e-mail_authentication (discussing various e-mail authentication proposals to limit spam on the receiving end); see also Saul Hansell, 4 Rivals Near Agreement on Ways to Fight Spam, N.Y. TIMES, June 23, 2004, at Cl (discussing approaches toward authentication proposed by major ISPs).
(see also Captcha/reCAPTHA/Zittrain)._____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It New Haven 2009