Jonathan Zittrain wants to make sure the electronic frontier stays open — and he's looking to the Internet's millions of users for its salvation.

Why you should listen

The increasing proliferation of "tethered" devices, from iPhones to Xboxes, is only one of countless threats to the freewheeling Internet as we know it. There's also spam, malware, misguided legislation and a drift away from what Internet law expert Jonathan Zittrain calls "generativity" -- a system's receptivity to unanticipated (and innovative) change instigated by myriad users.

Harvard law professor Zittrain, as an investigator for the OpenNet initiative and co-founder of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, has long studied the legal, technological and world-shaking aspects of quickly morphing virtual terrains. He performed the first large-scale tests of Internet filtering in China and Saudi Arabia in 2002. His initiatives include projects to fight malware (StopBadware) and ChillingEffects, a site designed to support open content by tracking legal threats to individual users.

What others say

“Zittrain's book, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, sounds ... a klaxon calling to arms everyone who believes that platforms open to user innovation should rule the world, not tethered, sterile appliances that are controlled only by their designers.” — ArsTechnica

Jonathan Zittrain’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Jonathan Zittrain

The Web as random acts of kindness: Jonathan Zittrain on

September 21, 2009

Feeling like the world is becoming less friendly? Social theorist Jonathan Zittrain begs to difffer. The Internet, he suggests, is made up of millions of disinterested acts of kindness, curiosity and trust. (Recorded at TEDGlobal 2009, July 2009, in Oxford, UK. Duration: 19:52) Watch Jonathan Zittrain’s talk on, where you can download this TEDTalk, […]

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Jonathan Zittrain at TEDGlobal 2009: Running notes from Session 3

July 22, 2009

As the second day of TEDGlobal unrolls, the morning’s program begins with the Connected Consequences session. This is a session all about technology, especially the Internet, and how it interacts with our lives. TEDGlobal director Bruno Guissani takes the stage to welcome Jonathan Zittrain who is a lawyer that specializes in technological, and of course, […]

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Live from TEDGlobal

Onsite in Oxford: Monday in the theater

July 20, 2009

It’s lunch break in Oxford after a morning of speaker rehearsals. While Jonathan Zittrain (above), Stefan Sagmeister, Beau Lotto and other TED speakers were testing slides and lighting, the crew of the Oxford Playhouse has been running around tweaking the stage set behind them. A snapshot below — and see more shots from TED setup […]

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