“A mobile phone-cum-computer might be very useful, but we still need our PCs to run our programs, and these PCs will preserve all the possibilities of social creativity. Things could evolve differently, though, due to the possible diffusion of Web 2.0. Its application programs are beginning to migrate from individuals’ computers to centralized webservers. This approach offers great and widely publicized convenience, but there are also great—and not so publicized—risks. With centralized applications, the
user loses control over the software’s evolution, even post facto—that is, even after using it to create data. While we can simply decide not to install the new version of a program if it lacks some useful feature, such a possibility doesn’t exist in the Web 2.0 environment. A buyer who finds that a crucial feature necessary to finish an important document has disappeared or is suddenly being offered for a fee has little choice but
to comply—and pay up, if so required. Applications initially advertised as “open” to attract customers can suddenly close up when the customers are locked in due, for example, to proprietary file formats.
…with the advent of Web 2.0, the purpose of a personal computer eventually will be little more than to execute Web browser commands. In this environment, several
forces could join and start asking that computers be transformed into closed information appliances. For users worried about viruses and security threats, many companies see an attractive business model in complete customer control (C. Lawton, “Dumb Terminals Can Be a Smart Move,” The Wall Street J., 30 Jan. 2007), giving the
government a way out of regulatory headaches.
What would we lose if our computers became tethered appliances capable only of executing applications running on remote servers? Simply put, without the Internet and its unlimited capability for exploration and experimentation—its unbridled creativity for drawing from the thousands of minds steeped in writing programs
simply because they’re interesting—much of our creativity would vanish. If Web 2.0 and its information guardians have their way, the future may be nothing more than a flashy version of Compuserve or Minitel, despite the allure of all their modern technological bells and whistles. The corporate model that the creative anarchy of the Internet defeated once might then return with permanent vengeance.”
–Simone Santini, “Is your phone killing the Internet?” Computer, December 2010