Read this a few months ago, but haven’t posted, which is a little weird, considering how much it’s affected the way I think about the Internet. Anyway, the quick summary is that this is an incredibly important book, with an extremely important concept in it: generativity. It’s the idea that systems that are open, have standard interfaces, and are not controlled by single parties (or small groups of them) are generative — they tend to result in high degrees of innovation. Further, that the Internet is a very special case where it’s open in the right ways, on the right levels, with the right interfaces — and it’s been unprecedented in delivering innovation & user-centered designs to normal people. And, more than that, that there are some signals in the world that we’re heading in bad directions — we tend to gravitate towards closed, tethered systems — like the iPhone, Tivo or Kindle (all of which I myself own and use).
I’ve got lots more thought about this & technology life cycles, but the bottom line on JZ’s book is that everyone who’s trying to work on the Web and build something great should read it.