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Fouling Our Own Net

The future is far from rosy in Jonathan Zittrain's The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It

4 min read

It would be easy to ignore a book called The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It . First, it predicts the progress of technology, which as every engineer knows is a risky business. Second, it seems to inveigh against one of the most successful and transformative inventions of our time. Has author Jonathan Zittrain, a cofounder of Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, suddenly become a modern Luddite, urging us to abandon the connectivity we have come to love?

Not to worry. Zittrain favors this connectivity and wants us to nurture it. The foundation of his argument is that the Internet fosters creative, collaborative invention—that it is, in a word, generative . This generativity arose in part because of its creators’ architectural principles. One such principle called for the Internet Protocol to be like the neck of an hourglass—slender yet open to all. Another principle was to move, whenever possible, all functions to host computer systems at the edge of the Internet. Together these two principles ensured that the middle of the network didn’t interfere with end-user innovations, such as better search tools or streaming media.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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