Should DoD Networks be Generative?

I realized today that I have an inherent bias that I bring to my work in the DoD and other large enterprises; it is a bias toward system design in support of generativity.

This wonderful article by Jonathan Zittrain in Harvard Business Review describes the benefits and failures of the Internet in terms of its generative features: leverage, adaptability, ease of mastery, and accessibility.

The basic thesis is that the generative attributes of PC’s connected to the Internet support innovation but equally support malicious use (e.g. botnet armies etc.). He draws comparisons with cell phone networks, where because of carrier controls, there is much less innovation but also much less malicious use (as Steve Jobs reminded us when he said that “you don’t want your iPhone to be like a computer”). He goes on to posit that consumers may eventually opt for a less generative Internet made up of remotely managed Internet appliances to choose a safer experience and may never notice the loss of continued innovation.

In the Defense arena, especially now with


  1. Mari - June 21, 2007 @ 9:33 pm

    If you’re going to have an environment that’s non-generative, the key is to have a parallel and competitive system that is generative. Competitive solutions, or more likely threats in this case, also drive innovation.

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