Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Cloudy With a Chance of Computing: BoomTown's NPR Debate With Harvard Law Prof Zittrain


This morning, BoomTown was interviewed on the very terrific National Public Radio talk show, “On Point,” along with Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain.

The program, moderated by Tom Ashbrook on Boston’s WBUR station, was titled “From Desktop to the Digital Cloud” and dealt with the increasing move of data of all kinds online and into the so-called “cloud.”

In other words, eventually, a completely virtual life for music, photos, records and more, and the end of packaged software.

Zittrain, who was co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, also wrote the scary-sounding book, “The Future of the Internet–and How to Stop It”–a kind of ladies-lock-up-your-daughters title it’s hard not to love for its chutzpah.

He also penned an op-ed piece for the New York Times recently, with another corker of a title: “Lost in the Cloud.”

Some of the “real dangers” of the move to cloud computing that Zittrain cited in the piece: Losing control of data, losing data itself, privacy issues, federal government overreaching, even more nefarious governments abroad and a damper on innovation.

Zittrain is a smart cookie, to be sure, although I did not really agree with him at all on the show about pretty much any of his concerns.

For some non-cloud-friendly reason, WBUR does not allow me to embed the show here; you can listen to it in its entirety by clicking here.

Also, here is a posted response by Zittrain after the conversation, in which I failed to assuage him. He remains “still worried.”

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work