Feudalisation of the Internet

In class this week we looked at a reading by Zittrain that outlined the impending feudalisation of the internet. We explored the concept of tethered appliances and why they present as a significant threat to our way of life.

Internet censorship is an issue that many perceive as pressing. But Zittrain insists that tethered appliances present as more of a danger to the very things we value in technology. Walled gardens for instance, are censoring and controlling us. But do we rebel? No, we simply see it as a way of life. John Batelle explains, “The old internet is shrinking and being replaced by walled gardens over which Google’s crawlers cannot climb.” We are stealthily being regulated through these devices as by their very nature, “invites regulatory intervention that disrupts a wise equilibrium that depends upon regulators acting with a light touch, as they traditionally have done within liberal societies”.

As the appliances are controlled by the manufacturers, they are subject to change at any point in time. Basically, we are paying for a good or product that we want, but then run the risk of having the very quality we value being taken away without our consent and with no warning. I personally found it most alarming that these devices can be used for surveillance purposes and consider it a gross privacy invasion.

We as consumers have enabled tethered appliances to rise to prominence through our blind trust in Companies such as Apple and Facebook. We are moving further away from dormant PC’s, in favour of devices that allow for mobility. However, Zittrain suggests that the sacrifice we must make to enjoy mobility and computing ease is simply not worth it, he fears, “that blunderbuss technology regulation by overeager regulators will intrude on the creative freedom of technology makers and the civic freedoms of those who use the technology.”


– Zittrain, J 2008, ‘Tethered Appliances, Software as Service, and Perfect Enforcement’. In The Future of the Internet and How to Stop it, Yale University Press, New Haven, ppp.101-126

– Mitew, T 2013, ‘The Fuedalisation of the Internet’, viewed 30 April 2013. http://prezi.com/qopqxh6ktl1j/the-feudalisation-of-the-internet/


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