Jonathan Zittrain, the Oxford-Harvard Internet governance and cyberlaw scholar, has written a very accessible and provocative book called The Future of the Internet and How To Stop It. It stopped me dead in my tracks today and I had to steal away time to absorb its premise and enter the full-on reading of the book.
Zittrain's assertion is that the Internet's trajectory might be one of lost opportunity because of the rise of "tethered appliances" and technologies that essentially take control out of the users' hands (read: iPhone) and install a form of central command. In other words, tech that tells you to leave it alone --- and you do leave it alone because, after all, it provides security and stability.
He adores so-called generative technologies, in which development is left open to improvement by the users, and he worries the Internet's shift away from these technologies is leading to an inevitable meltdown. He provides a wake-up call for collaboration and hopes users don't stay asleep as more proprietary (and sterile) technologies surface and dominate. He's not suggesting only generative technologies are good, but he wants a healthier hybrid lean to them than the road we're taking.
Zittrain is a spacious writer and generous to varying views, so his book has a general public/not academic feel. Profound weekend reading.