[unrev-II] Distributed Internet File Systems (Freenet, Gnutella)

From: Paul Fernhout (pdfernhout@kurtz-fernhout.com)
Date: Wed Apr 05 2000 - 03:47:53 PDT

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    There's a 1950s sci-fi story called "The Skills of Xanadu" by Theodore
    Sturgeon (available in his book The Golden Helix) which in part
    inspired my OSCOMAK site:
    Basically, over forty years ago , Sturgeon envisioned knowledge crystals
    that one wore which wirelessly shared knowledge with other people's
    crystals, allowing an entire culture to draw instantly from the best
    knowledge (and skills) on any topic available. Sound anything like
    today's or tomorrow's internet?

    The idea is taking off now in the form of distributed internet file
    Such systems don't necessarily reply on well known servers with names
    like the typical HTTP internet we use today. They instead distribute
    information as more like email (but directly, peer to peer, instead of
    through intermediate servers). This is an idea we might want to think
    about some for an OHS/DKR.

    As was pointed out to me about a decade ago by a SUNY Stony Brook
    University computer scientist (I'm trying to remember his name -- worked
    on some UN database stuff in the 60s which is why I contacted him), the
    total storage potential of millions of computers on a network is far
    greater than any individual computer, and so it makes sense when
    thinking about knowledge repositories to think about distributed ones,
    even given there will be some redundant overlap (which itself is good
    because redundancy promotes stability and error recovery).
    Two recent slashdot articles on Gnutella led me to some interesting
    things (Gnutella and Freenet). Just like much of the growth of the
    internet was driven by the desire to download porn, it looks like much
    of the growth of these distributed file systems systems is lead by the
    desire to download illicitly copied MP3 audio files. However, in both
    cases of the internet and Feenet, the potential of the systems goes far
    beyond the questionable early use.

    The New World of Gnutella

    Gnutella v.56 Out?

    HOWARD WEAVER: The new world of Gnutella

    "Freenet is a peer-to-peer network designed to allow the distribution of
    information over the Internet in an efficient manner, without fear of
    censorship. Freenet is completely decentralized, meaning that there is
    no person, computer, or organisation in control of Freenet or essential
    to its operation. This means that Freenet cannot be attacked like
    centralized peer-to-peer systems such as Napster. Freenet also employs
    intelligent routing and caching meaning that it learns to route requests
    more efficiently, automatically mirrors popular data, makes network
    flooding almost impossible, and moves data to where it is in greatest
    demand. All of this makes it much more efficient and scalable than
    systems such as Gnutella."

    "The Street Performer Protocol, an electronic-commerce mechanism to
    facilitate the private financing of public works."

    -Paul Fernhout
    Kurtz-Fernhout Software
    Developers of custom software and educational simulations
    Creators of the Garden with Insight(TM) garden simulator

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