Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Technology

Does Peer-to-Peer Suck? 150

Posted by JonKatz
from the more-hype-from-the-techno-revolution dept.
Peer-to-Peer: Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies from O'Reilly, presents p2p as the next great thing on the Internet. Maybe. (Please - jump into this discussion). This book will tell you every technical detail you ever dreamed of knowing about peer-to-peer, but it fails to make the case that this complex, collaborative, subterranean technology will have much impact or appeal beyond the tech elite obsessively engaged in making and touting it. And, of course, keeping free -- some will say stolen -- music alive.(Read more).

In most of the world, inventors identify a need and wear themselves out creating innovations to meet it. On the Net, the creative process seems to work in reverse: you make cool and exciting stuff, and assume that somebody, somewhere will eventually want to use it. It helps to announce, in the process, that the new gizmo will change everything about the way we (take your pick) communicate, do business, go to the movies, have sex, get an education, acquire music.

On the cover of Peer-to-Peer: Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies, there's a blurb from the respected Stanford Law Net guru Lawrence Lessig:

"Peer-to-Peer," he exults,"is the next great thing for the Internet."

If we've learned anything in the past decade or so, it's to run for your life whenever you hear anybody say that. The next great thing on the Internet usually turns out to be something like sex sites, instant messaging, free music or free Web pages. A couple of months ago, we were being told that TiVo was going to alter everything about marketing, but now digital replay recording sales are in the tank. Most people know the difference between something that's neat and something they need.

One thing you can take to the bank (if it's still letting you in the door): Peer-to-Peer is not the next great thing, on the Net or off. It's a great thing, a fascinating and fun thing, especially for the thousands of tech gurus and coders and free music hogs who design and use it. And it unquestionably has some seriously social implications, like rendering censorship or government regulation very nearly impossible, creating new kinds of anonymous payment systems, and giving individuals unprecedented, and perhaps even permanent access to data, communications, ideas and freedom of a kind.

P2P, writes Clay Shirky in a recent essay defining peer-to-peer, is a class of applications that takes advantages of particular resources -- storage, cycles, content, human presence -- that are available at the edges of the Internet, beyond the conventional reach of governments, institutions and businesses.

Because getting to these intensely decentralized resources means operating in a new environment -- unstable connectivity, unpredictable IP addresses -- p2p nodes must operate outside the existing domain name system and have total autonomy from central servers. That, says Shirky, an influential writer about society and the Net, is what makes p2p distinctive. (But even basic definitions about what p2p is aren't clear: One programmer read this paragraph and wrote me: "I don't quite agree. It would seem to me that you need to have very fault tolerant and abuse-tolerant systems that can handle nodes coming and going constantly. That's more the issue, not so much the unpredictable IP addresses. Basically, it needs to be a system that can handle having people connect and disconnect from it at random.")

Whatever. The Digerati and the idealistic are swooning over p2p. They say it's heralding a new age in the personal control of information.

Peer-to-peer, writes Andy Oram of O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. in the introduction of this book, was the eyebrow raiser for the summer of 2000. Napster, SETI@home, Freenet, Gnutella, Jabber and .Net (Microsoft's big P2P gamble) shocked the computer world, and woke it from its long slumber, says Oram. (Was it, in fact, asleep?)

What's the excitement all about? "In various ways, they (these p2p) sites, return content, choice and control to ordinary users," Oram says. Tiny endpoints on the Internet, sometimes without even knowing each other, exchange information and form communities. There are no more clients and servers -- or at least, the servers retract discreetly. Instead, the significant communication takes place between cooperating peers. That is why, diverse as such developments are, it is appropriate to lump them together under the "peer-to-peer" rubric.

This idea is sweeping alternative media. Erik Moeller recently set up a mailing list for p2p journalism which suggests the direction some people believe p2p media might be taking us. "Collaborative journalism" or peer-to-peer-journalism," writes Moeller, "is understood as referring to weblogs and interactive communities where users submit and filter articles and/or comments. We are... interested in exploring new opportunities offered by decentralized networks, or Napster-like content sharing." But it's far from clear what those "opportunities" might be; how collaborative media will work, or what good it might do, let alone whether such media are economically feasible or able to reach any significant audiences. Like those falling trees in the forest, information needs critical mass. It has to be seen and heard by substantial numbers of people to have significance.

There is a utopian flavor about p2p -- freedom for everyone all of the time. Nobody embraces populism more than various political elites, even though there's no evidence that the masses are looking for decentralized info. The problem is that some of the best media has been organized, accountable and coherent in ways that may not be possible in a de-centralized information model.

There is a school of thought that says individuals don't want to control every aspect of everything to do with their lives -- electricity, water, sewage come to mind -- and that information technologies are already overwhelming and incoherent. At the moment, p2p raises more questions than answers or possibilities. Gnutella replaces Napster, which is important to many people, but that doesn't translate into the Net's next great thing.

In a chapter on trust, the authors write about open issues like the absence of a global Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to guarantee anonymity, something many programmers believe isn't possible and is never going to happen. As the writers correctly point out, this has enormous implications for the future of so-called "censorship-resistant" publishing systems, since there are so many ways to trace people and correlate their online activity that any promise of anonymity may be misguided. Which means the idea of a censorship-resistant technology itself may be doubtful.

Chapter Sixteen deals with the accountability of peer-to-peer programs, including one p2p's most touted potential applications, anonymous macropayment digital cash schemes. The micropayment systems discussed in the book offer strong security and anonymity, write the authors, but they come at a cost. "The computational and size requirements of such digital cash are much greater." And they operate more slowly. The writings on digital cash suggest these systems may be workable -- or might even come to pass -- but they have the ring of sci-fi about them, like hover cars; dazzling uses of technology that soar far above the heads, or perhaps even the needs, of most consumers.

Napster is the most widely-heralded example of the p2p revolution, even though, technically, Napster did operate from a central server, and...er...seems to be dying. (But it's peer-to-peer, writes Shirky, because the addresses of Napster nodes bypass DNS, and because once the Napster server resolves the IP addresses of the PC's hosting a particular song, it shifts control of the file transfers to the nodes.)

Shirky wrote the very interesting chapter of this book called "Listening to Napster," in which he writes that what makes Napster and Popular Power and Freenet and AIMster and Groove similiar is that they are all leveraging previously unused resources (mostly by using variable connectivity). This lets them make new, powerful use of the countless millions of devices that have been connected to the edges of the Net in recent years. Perhaps to make P2P clearer, Alexander Graham Bell is often cited, in this book and elsewhere, as an organizer of P2P, the phone a classic example of primal peer-to-peer technology.

The idea is that peer-to-peer is exciting because it harnesses all this unused space, power and connectivity, draws from the basic Net/hacker, free software/Open Source idea of reversing the flow of information, giving more power to individuals to control their own information lives, escaping government or corporation control and domination. Nodes of thought, conversation and data-sharing can flourish far from control of corporate lawyers, FBI agents or copyright snitches, and communications are more lateral and anonymous.

So peer-to-peer is being championed as a technology, a business opportunity and an investment, as well as a revolutionary new means of empowering people and protecting their civil liberties and sense of individualism. Sounds pretty good. In the book, Usenet news and its decentralized model of control is cited as the grandaddy of todays' peer-to-peer applications. Usenet, created in l979, uses no central control, and copies files between computers.

In the afterword, Oram tries to look ahead to the possible implications, to the fact that p2p technologies may challenge governments and corporations. Putting tools in the hands of individual users could have an enormous impact on business models, writes Oram. People might no longer buy a technical manual from O'Reilly & Associates; they might download it from a peer instead, or more creatively perhaps, extract and combine pieces of it along with other material from a number of different peers. This, Oram adds, could further weaken conventional notions of copyright.

Peer-to-peer is useful where "the goods you're trying to get at lie at many endpoints; in other words, where the value of information lies in the contributions of many users rather than the authority of one." It's obvious that this could be valuable in research and some kinds of business development. But the book offers precious few examples of the kind of information that might be valuable in that way to large numbers of people.

This all echoes, in the highest traditions of the hacker ethic, the idealistic founders of the Net and Web, and the ideologists behind Open Source.

But as interesting as it is, and important as some of its applications and implications already are, I personally don't believe peer-to-peer will move beyond the interests and worklives of a relative handful of computer technologists, many of whom seem to have lost touch with the needs, aspirations, frustrations and lives of middle-class Americans, who are always -- always -- the people who decide which media technologies will actually revolutionize the world and which will not.

Consumers seem quite happy to buy their books in bookstores or online, in one piece and in traditional form. Nobody is abandoning movies, magazines aren't vanishing, even the record industry racked up more money than ever before last year: $15 billion.

When peer-to-peer advocates cite the telephone as an example of P2P's usefulness, seeking perhaps to piggy-back on its astonishing success and truly revolutionary impact, they ought to stop and think. People who were geographically isolated, whose lives often depended on getting in touch with the outside world, who desperately needed a way of talking quickly with one another, found that the phone provided an essential technological utility at little cost and with considerable reliability.

To use their new technology, they simply had to order it, and someone came to their house and installed it. Almost from the first, it was inexpensive and comprehensible. People didn't have to manipulate it, and the old AT&T, like many pre-corporatist companies, understood the notion of tech support and customer service. If the thing didn't work, somebody came to your house and fixed it or replaced it pronto. You didn't have to discuss it with them on the phone for hours, either. Especially after the first decade or so, the phone company took completely responsibility for creating and maintaining the technologies they brought into homes.

For anyone in the computer industry to compare that level of service and support with complex new information technologies in which the point is that nobody is in charge or responsible for explaining or fixing things is absurd. The public would be crazy to buy that argument. Peer-to-peer is touted as a democratizing force in computing, but it's hard to imagine a time when more than a handful of people will be able to understand, let alone use, it.

The explosion on moderating, filtering and other individualistic systems in recent years has touched off a wave of narcissistic media and culture online -- people talking to themselves, rating one another's comments, limiting their communications to pre-selected or like-minded people, or trading data, nodes and files as much for the sake of it as for any urgently needed utility.

Now comes the much-heralded P2P, another potential plunge into personalized, chaotic and subterranean communications. Is this what the Net is really about, every invididual talking to every other individual at the same time, nobody really able to grasp, comprehend or evaluate what they are seeing, where it came from, or knowing who else might be seeing it?

In nearly 400 pages of intelligent, mostly complex and technical discussions about the evolution of peer-to-peer, from Jeremie Miller on "Conversational Technologies" to Adam Langley on "Mixmaster Remailers," to Brandon Wiley on "Interoperability Through Gateways," only two clearly significant utilities were mentioned -- file-sharing systems like Napster, which has a central server and isn't technically a peer-to-peer technology, which is why the government and entertainment industry could cripple it, and the fact that P2P threatens to make censorship impossible. But governments have little to fear from P2P. Since everyone is an equal content provider, goes the theory, it would be almost impossible for any significant mass of people to ever see the same message.

In his essay, Shirky offers a litmus test for anybody who is confused about P2P: l. Does it treat variable connectivity and temporary network addresses as the norm?, and 2. Does it give the nodes at the edges of the network significant autonomy? So Napster is P2P because the addresses of Napster nodes bypass the DNS system. Intel's "server peer-to-peer" is not P2P, because servers have always been peers. ICQ and Jabber are P2P because not only do they devolve connection management to the individual nodes once they resolve the address, they violate "the machine-centric worldview" encoded in the DNS system. E-mail is not P2P, because your address is not machine independent.

People's technology needs are clear, especially when it comes to the Net. They are looking to trade stocks, do research, talk about sex, buy stuff on EBay, play games and quizzes, or e-mail Uncle Charlie. At this juncture, the tech world seems on the edge of literally sinking into esoteric, exotic new programming and connective technologies that simply make little coherent sense for the overwhelming bulk of technology users, who are already enraged at the cost, poor quality and lack of service involving the outrageously-unsupported technologies they have, from cell phones to computers to DSL. And they are frustrated at a media environment, from telephones to computers, in which noone seems responsible for anything, from dumb and hostile or commercial messaging to minimal tech support. Peer-to-peer is designed to have no central authority.

This seems like the wrong technology at the wrong time. Only five percent of the country even has broadband, and the number isn't likely to go much higher soon, especially with an administration in Washington which has made it crystal clear that it doesn't want to pay for the required infrastructure.

There's a difference between neat stuff and significant stuff. Peer-to-Peer: Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies does a great job of explaining how P2P works, all the way down to free riding and scalability.

But it fails to tell us why people outside of the technical world should really care. It raises many more questions than it answers. It fails to address the true social implications of technologies like this: do Harry and Martha in Dubuque need peer-to-peer?

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Does peer-to-peer suck?

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I would'nt trade porn with anything called BearShare.. since "bear" usually means large gay male in porn culture.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I only found out recently an instance of early pirating of Intellectual Property. There was an artist named I think Allegri, and his piece 'Miserere' was regarded as one of the most beautiful pieces in the known world, despite the fact that the only written copy of the sheet music was kept under lock and key within the walls of the Vatican. This music was only to be played at times and places selected solely at the discretion of the Pope. That changed when a young fan of the music memorized and rewrote the entire piece flawlessly. That young fan was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and I credit him as the first pirate of commercial music. This isn't anything to do with Peer2Peer, or is it?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Decentralised?

    That sounds a lot like no-one will be able to control what's being traded in that net. Is that right?

    How can the trade of kiddie porn and illegal copies of software prevented then by entities like FBI and BSA?

    It must be illegal! I'm going to report this e-mail of yours at my local FBI office at once!

  • So many terms, so little time. I never particularly liked the term peer-to-peer. I'm not exactly sure who originally coined it, but it seems to cause a lot of confusion.

    P2P, Distributed Aggregation and Distributed Computing are three separate but related things.

    Peer-to-peer is simply a system where all nodes on the system are on equal standing with each other. There are no dedicated server machines, no dedicated client machines, but rather everyone is both a server and a client and they communicate with each as equals.

    This type of system lends itself to a very interesting change in the way someone finds information. Instead of going to a place (e.g. slashdot.org) to get information, you go to the information to get a place.

    Distributed aggregation is a method of intelligently locating and well, aggregating resources distributed among nodes across a network. Whether these resources are files, CPU time or disk space, the method of aggregation should remain basically the same. This fits in very well with the peer-to-peer model to provide each node with a simple way of locating resources on other machines.

    Distributed computing is a method of using resources distributed among nodes across a network. Distributed aggregation can be thought of a part of distributed computing as you have to be able to find the resources to use them, but not all distributed computing systems provide or even need a method of handling dynamic changes in the peer-to-peer network. Of course, distributed computing systems are not typically peer-to-peer. Individual nodes on the network rarely communicate with each other to share information, but instead handle jobs in batch fashion and push the results up to a central server.

    Many have argued that peer-to-peer has existed on the Internet since time began and that all things are basically peer-to-peer. This is quite true in some respects. At the protocol level, machines communicate with other machines in a manner that can be considered peer-to-peer, but historically at the application level there have been a very clear line between servers and clients.

    Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.
  • As far as I have seen, SETI@home is a screensaver app for people with nothing better to do with their potential CPU cycles than show off their computer's ability to crunch numbers. It's a popular alternative to the many distributed crypto projects, because SETI is a project that will probably never be completed. (Participate in a crypto project with your overnight cycles, and eventually the message will be cracked, leaving you looking for something else to join in on. SETI@home does not have this disadvantage.)

    On the other hand, if SETI does turn something up, it will be huge. The eventual mesage crack will just be the inevitable conclusion to the exercize. The entire distributed code cracking net could be replaced with a length of rubber hose and a sadist.

  • This is a verbatim copy of a comment I posted a few weeks ago. It is pretty rude to copy people's stuff without attribution. I will see if I can find the comment in question and post it, but I am pretty sure it is identical.

    --

  • This is moderator manipulation. This is a verbatim copy of a comment I posted in response to someone who was complaining that peer to peer systems need interoperability. You may notice that this issue isn't raised in Katz's article.

    This guy is the worst kind of karma whore, he doesn't even write his own comments.

    --

  • I am not being a hypocrite Oskar. It is wrong to take something written by someone else and pretend that it was written by you.

    --

  • It isn't a question of claiming property rights over words, it is a simple issue of honesty. It is reasonable to assume that when you post a comment it is your own words unless you attribute it to someone else. You didn't attribute those words to their author, and thus implied that they were yours.

    As for "neener neener neener", it is now clear to anyone who had read my comments (and your admission) that you are dishonest. I don't think you can claim this as a victory, in fact, you have been exposed as a plagiarist, and an immature one at that. Congratulations.

    I also note with interest that you don't even have a +2 bonus, so the fact that you needed to use someone else's words to get moderated up does not really say good things about your intellectual ability now does it?

    --

  • Firstly, the term "piracy" was intended with irony.

    I am not that fussy about who gets karma, but I do think that plagerism is dishonest, and wanted to raise the issue. I suspect that the /. moderators would probably rather not get into the business of detecting and punishing plagerism, however moderators should take action - unfortunately they haven't in this case.

    --

  • This is not necessarily truth. Fully peer-to-peer networks *can* work in a scalable manner if we do a better job of searching. Query processing is the limiting issue for all truly P2P networks. I have been working on an idea to address this which involves query routing (instead of broadcasting) to reduce bandwidth requirements. Essentially, only nodes in the network which have a high probability of satisfying a query will recieve it.

    Full details are in a draft paper here [homestead.com]. I welcome comments.
  • I think the whole Peer-to-Peer thing is grouping together unrelated technology while missing the real revolution.

    How is getting a file from Freenet different from ftp-ing it from someone who has a server running on a dyndns address? The are both based on transient IP's, yet clearly the difference goes further than one using DNS and one not.

    The real revolution is the change to a data centric model instead of a server centric one. In DNS based technologies, you first have to know the machine the data is on before you can get the data. And, if that machine is down you won't find the data, even if it is replicated somewhere else. In the new data-centric view, you find the data, and it is fetched from whatever machine has it at the current time. What machine has the data is irrelevant, who cares if it comes from some guy's home machine or from a massive dataserver on the net.
  • I'm on a dialup with no ability to upgrade for at least a year, so if a P2P system is to work for me, downloads must be kept to a minimum.

    That said, P2P is a good thing in my mind. It's flexible and often at least somewhat private (or moreso than C2S counterparts).

    My only complaint about all P2P I use is where server lists come from. Napster is dying because it's centralized. Yet, if there is no central server AT ALL, like gnutella, it's hard to find anything.

  • P2P is not new (as several people here have pointed out). However, the recent attention brought to the idea has and will continue to spawn new notions of just how the internet can work. As is mentioned in "Peer-To-Peer: Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies," the internet was originally designed as a P2P system of large (mainframe) academic and government computers. It was only later that today's trend of client-server applications appeared.

    A move back to the original ideas behind the internet is not a bad idea, but due to the size and current structure of the net it will be difficult. Furthermore, as JonKatz mentions, there is the difficulty of finding applications which will be usable by and will appeal to a large group of people (thus making p2p apps potentially profitable). However, I think he goes too far in claiming that this cannot be done. Napster (though it is only a pseudo-p2p system) exemplifies this popular appeal. It seems necessary to make sure p2p applications are simple to use and designed in such a way as to be understandable to a newbie. This isn't always easy, but it is possible.

    One method of bringing this about is to have lots of default settings and let users work within the application without ever knowing about what happens behind the scenes. Furthermore, the option to adjust those advanced settings can be appropriately labeled so the novice won't play with it. This is a good principle for UI design in general and it applies here as well.

    To conclude, though p2p has both technical and user-related difficulties to be overcome before many new p2p apps will become common, it seems those difficulties can (and in some cases already have) been overcome.

    -mhorst

  • That's why I wrote the first chapter, pointing out the history of peer-to-peer. The ARPAnet was all about peer to peer networking, we just lost that vision for a few years.
  • Napster, SETI@home, Freenet, Gnutella, Jabber and .Net (Microsoft's big P2P gamble)

    As far as I know .NET is not a peer to peer piece of software. Its a development tool to integrate third party applications with each other in a web based fasion.

    I dont mean to flame, but I asked my girlfriend to read this article objectively and tell me what she thought. She came back with a feeling that the author wasn't a profesional writer, and couldn't follow because of organizational problems. I wholely agree, and would like to point out that this is a constant in all of Katz's articles for slashdot.

    "It's weird that you would want to write when you obviously can't." --my girlfriend
  • I remember Lantastic was a peer to peer network. That sucked really hard too.

    I've got this great idea. Let's adopt the term "workgroup" for the gnutella replacement.

  • Actually I would expect a massive "p2p sucks!" campaign to be waged by the major ip producers and distributors (riaa, mpaa, msft, etc etc) as a way to fight piracy by stigmatizing it (big billboards and ad campaigns insinuating that "p2p users are loosers" ala drug war type propaganda).

    Who knows, maybe Katz was bought off by the industry to start dissing it, putting on negative spin, etc.
  • The timestamps on the posts (assuming such are rigorously kept) should prove that the original post by you was made prior to the post you accuse of plagerism (please use correct terminology, piracy ... rape, theft, and murder on the high seas ... has nothing to do with what happened to you).

    Given the availability of this evidence, rather then deleting the post, couldn't the slashdot editors reattribute the post (and karma) to the proven original author when such disputes arise. No content is changed, only attribution.

    This kind of policy would have the dual effect of rewarding the original author for posting a very sound argument, while removing the incentive (whoring for karma) of plagerizing the posts of others. Most importantly, it would avoid removing a positive contribution to the discussion (in terms of the content, which deserves the +5 score even if the plagerist does not).
  • do Harry and Martha in Dubuque need peer-to-peer?

    Well, I don't know Harry or Martha, but I live in Dubuque [dubuque.org] and I want and need peer-to-peer.

  • Dubuque may be a small city, but it is not exactly in the middle of nowhere (well, ok, it IS in Iowa..:-). Still, I wonder if Jon knows that Jeremie Miller (the jabber project (jabber.org) and listed by Katz himself in the article) is from Cascade which is an even smaller town only a few miles from Dubuque. Either that's an amazing coincidence, or he was trying to imply something else.

    In any case, I found it to be pretty darned funny since Jeremie is one of those people at the top of the new P2P world and from a traditional small-town farm family himself.
  • by Rahga (13479) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @09:00AM (#314871) Homepage Journal
    Greenspan's phrase "Irrational Excuberance" is what I would use to describe most of us geeks when it comes to advocating technology. p2p isn't going to turn the head. Where it works well, it will be used. We are simply creating a more complex spiderweb. You can send data through the center of the spiderweb, or along one of many stable and unstable paths, directly or indirectly to it's target.
    No big deal. Use p2p when necessary and beneficial. Use other methods when appropriate.
    When will everybody, publishers included, quit looking for the "next big thing" when most of them don't understand the abilities of "the big thing already here". After all, look how long it too for p2p to catch on, when the technology has had very little to do with advances in technology.
  • By the definition given, DHCP is a P2P app, since it is contingent (temporary IP addresses) and edge-oriented. And DHCP is mundane, not revolutionary. And this points to exactly the problem: defining a logical relationship like P2P in terms of physical mapping leads to contradictions.

    As for P2P as some kind of permiter around a non-surveilled zone of the net: notice that Ethernet is dependent on MACs. All the transient IP addressing in the world doesn't get around that. And to my knowledge other transports have a similar invariant logical-to-physical mapping. Consider the security issues with that. Consider the security issues if you don't have that . . . : Is it trust then verify, or verify then trust?
    -------

    -------
  • Or you could download the whole album and burn it onto a $0.99 CD-R... Here in Canada there is a levy on CD-R's that goes to pay artists for piracy, so the music has already been paid for when the CD-Rs were bought
  • People just haven't thought of the cool stuff do do with peer-to-peer yet. Imagine a high bandwidth cell phone that acts like a Gnutella client. Your call finds somebody else's phone locally and frog-hops across phones until it reaches its destination, no towers, no phone company bills, etc. It would be great for military networks, ad-hoc networking at conferences (ever try to make a cell call at Comdex? Good luck getting a circut.), etc.
  • >
    > Does p2p enable theft? Yes.

    Only if you really believe that someone can "own" something that does not exist. I own an idea. It's in your brain, too, so I own part of your brain. I own these bits: 1001010100 01010101010. If you use them, you owe me money.

    If that doesn't sound ridiculous to you, you're not really thinking about it.
  • Nope, to do that basic thing you'd find someone with music you liked and then browse their collection. The problem is the user-based stuff. That person would log off and you'd never find them again. You'd have to save the names of stuff you wanted and try to find it again, or you'd have to go through the process again with someone new.

    AudioGalaxy is *MUCH* better. Too bad the web interface is a little slow. In all other ways, it's MUCH better than Napster.

    To non-AudioGalaxy users: It supports resume! You select a song and it downloads from one person until they disconnect, then switches to someone else with the same file (uses CRCs for verification) and downloads the rest. If nobody is on with that song, it waits until they are.

    AudioGalaxy is also immune to Cuckoo Eggs, when some shithead with something to prove takes a valid song, replaces the middle with something non-music, and re-offers it on Napster, to screw over other people. AudioGalaxy shows you a list of the versions of the song available, with the lengths and quality, as well as the number of users with each version. As long as more people have the real song than the screwed one, you just pick the most common file and you're fine.

  • How can you say Napster notwithstanding?

    Napster (and things like it - media sharing) ARE/b> the killer P2P apps. That part of your argument is complete crap.
  • Not just were, FidoNet [fidonet.org] is still alive, and some would say well. Dial-up connections have in many places been replaced by data exchange over Internet, but otherwise little has changed. And, in many ways, it's a giant step above Usenet.
  • He's not that fast. His article was written last week.
  • "Peer-to-Peer," he exults,"is the next great thing for the Internet."

    Ummm...no. 'P2P' is just a different way of describing what the Internet always has been. OOooh, now I can distribute my own stuff!! I can be my own publisher!! I can even let other people contribute and talk back!!

    Basically the same thing with the same motivations that drove amatuer radio, CBs, and BBS phenomenons.

  • P2P lives, not because of it being a cool technology, but because it brings to realization an important fact. There are a number of niches where the audience, or the users, are the best content.

    I'll take the broad definition of "peer-to-peer" here and say that in the realm of things that are legal, P2P has the most impact in the following areas:

    In the idea space, when the consumer voice is just as important, or more important than a singular voice. For example, product review sites like Epinions [epinions.com]. A mass of users can provide far more information on a wider variety of topics than Consumer Reports can.

    In hobbies, where there isn't profitability in commercialization. For example, KLOV [klov.com], the Killer List of Arcade Games. You've got a large number of enthusiastic collectors who are documenting information about games that have long since lost any commercial value.

    In dark legal areas, where a commercial entity cannoy provide what the audience wants. MP3s are the best example. There isn't a place (commercial or not) to go to get your MP3s. Peer to peer is the place to go.

    In short, peer-to-peer fills in the gaps where commercial organizations do not exist, can not exist, or do their job poorly. And because that is always going to exist, so will peer-to-peer.
  • All you have to have is a network:

    MBONE [hpc.mil] and a decent application design.

    IP Multicasting is quite neat.


    --

    A mind is a terrible thing to taste.

  • Why would anyone want to dial directly to another house when you can just pick up the phone and have the operator do it for you. Or better yet send them a letter by the postal service. Oh yeah! I want centralized authority in everything I do especially to send photos (videos) of my kids to grandma. Most computers now being purchased now have enough capacity to store all your personnel information, including all of your photo albums, financial information, music preferences, operating manuals, house plans, letters, medical information, several encyclopedias worth of information. EVEN THOUGH it is not necessarily EASY to do this now it is coming. I don't want microsoft storing this stuff, I don't want AOL storing this stuff and I want full control of dissiminating this information. In a few years you will be able to store the kids birthday and christmas videos on the desktop. Peer to Peer is coming soon to a home near you.

  • Don't be a hypocrite, Ian. If you believed in those words when you wrote them, then they are equally true now. You should be happy they got moderated up again...

  • Others think that it is wrong to read something written by you without paying you the amount of money that you request. Because enforcement of that necessarily leads to the inhibition of the freedom of information, it is not acceptable regardless or whether it is right or not. How is this any different?
  • and a poorly coded one. He was written by some kid in high school, just like Napster, who now works for Microsoft. One day we hope he will become sentient, but until then we have to put up with shit like this. I say pull the plug man, delete the code, throw the backups into the fire.

  • that would require independant thought.. which hasn't been coded in the Katz script yet.
  • We should make the "fuck SETI" at home project that just bounces random signals off the moon. We could use the SETI@home algorithm as a metric in a genetic algorithm and distribute it. So the geeks with their big telescopes get all excited "we found a signal!!! It appears to be intelligent" and they start communicating with it and before you know it we've actually got some distributed electronic lifeform squirming through the web.
  • You know, it's pretty damn trivial to make a legit napster.. all you've got to do is only put songs on your server that you have the rights to distribute. Now, there are ways to beat this, right. What an attacker can do is rename "Some leet song" to "Back Hoe Boys - Lame Song" (which the legit napster has on its server) and place it in his shared folder. Well that's easy to stop, all the legit napster has to do is sign the song before they distribute it to the first peer. I hear you, you'll just hack the client to accept any song, even ones that are not signed. But I'm not suggesting that your client should not accept songs that are incorrectly signed, instead the receiving client should check the signature and if it is dodgy then it should immediately tell the server that the client that sent the song has sent an invalid song, the server then removes that client from the search list. Once it has done that the recieving client can pop up a box saying "this song may be damaged or invalid, do you wish to keep it?" Why do this and not just delete the file? Because then the receiving user will have a reason to hack his client. If we dont do this then the receiving client has no reason to hack his client. The sender can hack his client as much as he wants, but it is the receiver who narqs on him.
  • Sure, you might strike out and get pissed if you're trying to find Britney or Smashmouth - or any of the other top forty BS. But Napster has a sustained user base of around seven thousand- this peaked at just over ten thousand back when the legal battle was getting hot and nasty.

    Fortunately the "ruling" and the heat are coming from the people that control the crap on the radio- "music" I've never had a taste for. Napster is still a great place to find material from extinct and independant labels- music I would gladly support if I could actually *find* it.
  • > Usenet, created in l979, uses no central control, and copies files between computers.

    C'mon, Katz, get with the "l970s". Just because a "1" and an "l" on old-sk00l typewriters looked the same in Courier monospace, doesn't mean they're equivalent. Please, please, please adjust your spell checker. You really date yourself when you make this error.

  • Seti P2P? No way, it's many people and one server. People don't send information sideways.

    Also, other comments I've seen about P2P being an "internet over the internet" are also fallacious: networks like Napster and Gnutella are structurally identical to the WWW. Just a different port, and they don't serve HTML! The *only* advance from the WWW to Gnutella is participatory searches.

  • Woaahh... And then we could bounce signals off the moon to them, and they could respond in kind! It would be the biggest, widest, most fantasmariphic peer to peer network ever!
  • your right, P2P hype is over and done with. there are emerging technologies right now that are already prepared to take market share in all of the P2P segments. the scary thing is that you probably haven't even heard of them yet but they are working out of the garage next door. hindsight is 20/20, and with all of the talent and hype that we have in the market right now, we should expect something far greater than Napster to come along very soon.
  • A couple of months ago, we were being told that TiVo was going to alter everything about marketing, but now digital replay recording sales are in the tank.

    This is not what I want to hear. The last thing I want is for my TiVo to become nothing more than a cheap LinuxPPC box. It's downright painful trying to watch TV without the TiVo software, once you've had it. (Incidentally, the 2.0 software update RULES.)

    Anyone have some sales figures to back up this supposed financial crisis?

  • "But as interesting as it is, and important as some of its applications and implications already are, I personally don't believe peer-to-peer will move beyond the interests and worklives of a relative handful of computer technologists, many of whom seem to have lost touch with the needs, aspirations, frustrations and lives of middle-class Americans, who are always -- always -- the people who decide which media technologies will actually revolutionize the world and which will not. "

    Would you have said the above about the web?
  • The answer appears to be "it depends"...

    I wrote a two-part article about this on osopinion.com last December (here are part 1 [osopinion.com] and part 2 [osopinion.com]). - adam

  • Actually, peer to peer (otherwise known as 'conversation' when you're not referring to it in the context of technology) is pretty useful. If you're the type that hates the fact that everyone forms their musical/artistic/cultural/political views based on centralized authorities (TV, websites, mags, etc), then you covet the existance of conversation. Your friend may only know of Brittany Spears, but thanks to regular human-style peer to peer communication, at least you have an /opportunity/ to enlighten someone. Peer to peer (with respect to file sharing .. I dont know how you can group SETI et al. in the same group as its a totally different social application of an admittedly similar technological application of TCP/IP architecture) on the 'net is the same thing .. when all the major labels get their internet-music-subscription-shit up, and everyone flocks to them, the discovery and exploration of millions of artists and pieces of art (including music) will vapourize faster than you can type in your credit card # and hit submit. And while Katz loves pointing how nothing is ground shaking, there are still millions of people in the world who don't need cars .. but does that render the car an irrelevant technology?

  • As mentioned in numerous posts, p2p is simply another way to have fun with standard and ubiquitous tcp/ip.

    The p2p internet will occur when 56k connections are remembered with nostalgia. When, not if, but when, fiber to the home, or ethernet to the home, goes pro, we will see p2p as the dominant traffic pattern through all those routers.

    When we all have symmetrical (upload_bps == download_pbs) connections with 100mbs pipes, we are all simultaneous consummers and producers. The central networks and distribution networks a` la Akamai, Inktomi, Digital Island will become irrelevent. Anybody can stream video, anyone can cache content. We'll all be able to present content as easily as we can retrieve it.
  • The cool thing about "peer to peer" isn't that I can damn the man, or subvert my government. Anyone who seeks to do those things really isn't going to accomplish much just with technology. What I am excited about is being able to really use the potential of the Internet. I see Peer to Peer technologies being developed to let me use the Internet in a more effective manner. Why is Napster so popular? Because it makes it pathetically easy to get the songs you like. Wouldn't it be great if I could do the same thing with texts when I am doing research? Automatic cross-referencing? Being able to find and view artwork at museums that are halfway around the world? I see it as being able to get rid of artificial structure, like DNS, and actually search for and retrieve what I want. I'm looking for information, not a given website. Also, the whole micropayment thing that was so quickly swept aside could really allow content creators to make money on the Internet. Banner ads don't seem to be working out too well. I'd be happy to pay for what I find I enjoy online, but there is no real mechanism for doing that yet. Building an optional payment system into a peer to peer filesharing system would be a pretty elegant solution to the problem. So I see a pretty big benefit to joe schmoe, as well as myself. Much better searching, with better, more accurate results. And if I can do this with files, why not goods or services? What better way would there be to comparison shop? All of this would be pretty damn useful.
  • So, did you turn up that CID yet?
  • The company I'm the cofounder of, Humancasting [humancasting.com] is developing a peer to peer system where individuals can produce high quality content and disemminate it to a large audience with a lot less concern for things like bandwith, etc. that is straining the current flock of users.
    --
    OliverWillis.Com [oliverwillis.com]
  • Sorry, should have said "distribute".
    --
    OliverWillis.Com [oliverwillis.com]
  • Does Napster have a "Users who liked this music also liked..." feature? I know Audiogalaxy does, that's how I found out about Oomph and Megaherz, who are like and as good as Rammstein but virtually unknown in America, including to my German teacher.

    -----------------------

  • If you've ever used bearshare, and lots of other current gnutella clients, you would know that they're simple to use.

    The current crop auto-connects to a server for you and all you have to do is type in your search criteria.

    people are not as dumb as you think. That's why there are millions and millions of napster users.

    http://www.hyperpoem.net
  • Did I ever say that those words were mine? Anope. I never claimed any rights to those words. And for that matter, neither did you. Therefore, they are assumed Public Domain and so I think the appropriate words are:

    Neener neener neener.

    ------
    That's just the way it is

  • by Wind_Walker (83965) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:53AM (#314907) Homepage Journal
    You seem to fall into the common trap of thinking that the different P2P architectures are just different approaches to doing the same thing. This isn't the case, there is actually very little in common between the various architectures as they generally have very different goals. For example, Napster and Gnutella are both designed to let people share their mp3s with other people, Freenet is designed to provide a secure forum for free speech, Seti@home is designed to combine people's spare cycles to find aliens etc. These systems are as different as chalk and cheese, just because many journalists think they fall under the P2P buzzword, doesn't mean that they have any more in common than any other software, nor that there is any more room for interoperability than there is with any other software that communicates via the Internet.

    The claim that P2P would be great if only the systems would interoperate really doesn't bear much scrutiny, TCP/IP is often the full extent of what these systems have in common. This isn't a flaw, it is a simple fact.

    ------
    That's just the way it is

  • This will get -1, Troll, but I just cannot resist:

    "Does Peer-to-Peer Suck?"

    Not as much as these lame stories from you, Katz!
  • All you need is a web page with a list of servers. Once you connect to one server on the network it tells about its peers, and they tell you about their peers, and so on, and so on.

    Maybe they'll shut down one web page, but they can't get them all at once.

    Couple of links to check out:
    Gnutella host caches [hostscache.com]
    Clip2 Super Peers [clip2.com]

  • If they *do* shut down the web pages then it will just use your instant messenger contacts list or something else and query those. The point is that you only need to know the address of of any one peer on the network to be connected to them all.
  • For some reason this comment conjures up the curious image:

    Jon Katz, sitting in Lancaster, PA, by candlelight. He is typing furiously at an Underwood typewriter, writing articles about technology, of which he's actually never seen before. He has a stack of old "Wired" magazines as a reference.

    At the end of the day, CmdrTaco stops by, picks up the manuscript, scans and OCRs it, and uploads it to Slashdot.

  • I completely agree, Katz is out of his league here. P2P now is what hacker has become, a catch all for many things. Something like SETI@Home is NOT a true P2P app. Granted it makes communique between to apps, however, that does not mean p2p unless you only mean that context. Of course we all know SETI is a distributed app. Hell you could say the heart needs blood (tcp/ip), the brain needs it too, so that makes that system p2p? I think not. Its just symatics. However, I really wish for once the tech world and the journalistic world could just use the same definition.
  • To get your music downloaded on Napster, you essentially have to be famous already. On MP3.com, people can actually find you, even if you're unknown simply by browsing.

    That's not entirely true. I use Napster to find other tracks by artists who are far away from being famous, but who I've heard one thing by and want to check out more. And if I like a lot of their stuff, I usually buy the CD.

    Many artists don't have material on MP3.com or don't have commercially released material on mp3.com. I like the try before you buy aspect of Napster more than anything...

    Danny

  • Your EDI reference is interesting, because practical EDI isn't P2P. It's supposed to be; the protocols themselves are basically so. The trouble is that EDI sucks, like Bill G's vacuum cleaner, and that to work around the minefield of incompatibilities in it, an EDI structure has developed where nearly everyone talks to a VAN as a translating intermediary, rather than directly to the end-points.

    EDI ought to be P2P, but can't be, and one of the drivers for the many XML-based EDI replacements is regaining P2P.

    Sadly, if you talk to the wrong bunch of over-priced consult-o-suits, they'll sell you VAN-based XML solutions, because VANs are what they know best.

  • Consider the security issues with that. Consider the security issues if you don't have that [invariant logical-to-physical mapping] . . . : Is it trust then verify, or verify then trust?

    So what's the problem here ? Everyone and their dog appears to be working in this problem space (maybe that's just because I work in a P2P research lab) and there are many, many crypto-based solutions to this. There are already ePerson demonstrators out there that offer verifiable, trustworthy, but still anonymous, identification of community members.

    In simple terms, you own some sort of valuable token, and you can communicate it to your PC, your phone, and your TV. With it, they can buy services from service vendors (large or small) such that the vendors get paid, but you don't get trailed through your consumption history.

    PS - Liked your DHCP analogy.

  • I was thinking about this last night. Considering the old OSI layered model of networking, we've seen each layer transform from asymmetric to P2P operation, crawling gradually up the protocol stack. Is P2P the obvious evolutionary goal of all networking ?

    Back in Olden Days, the physical layer knew where the DTE and the DCE where. Ten years ago, we used transport and session protocols that knew where the Netware server was. Now an asymmetry in a new presentation layer would certainly raise eyebrows.

    Is peer-to-peer symmetry just an inevitable consequence of evolution ? Will everything in the future turn into a mesh of edge-serving boxes; indistinguishable from each other, but all speaking common semantics ?

    If your corporate mail server is slack in the evening, why not rent its capacity to an Akamai-alike, on the chargeable distributed.net model ? It's not just processor cycles that could be traded on this distributed marketplace, but how about storage, bandwidth or even favourable topology ?

  • The fact that only 5% of users have broadband has more to do with its currently poor reliability and higher cost than dial-up service

    Hmmmm, Europe (well !North America), timed local calls, dial up, cheaper than DSL/cable. Maybe not.

  • Don't forget about the sneaker net...
  • "The next great thing on the Internet usually turns out to be something like sex sites..."

    You say that like that's a bad thing...

  • I am very disapointed that Jon Katz has bought the media's line on P2P. To many, including people that should know better like Michael Robertson of MP3.com, peer-to-peer technology means file sharing of one sort or another. Full stop. While Mr. Katz refers to different uses beyond this, he fails utterly to understand what those uses are. For example

    "Like those falling trees in the forest, information needs critical mass. It has to be seen and heard by substantial numbers of people to have significance"

    What what possible relevance does such an observation to a product like Groove? None. Because Groove is not about file sharing, it is a collaboration tool (the best ever IMHO).

    I admit to being biased, because I work at Hotline Communications, possibly the oldest extant peer-to-peer company. We have dozens of interesting uses for P2P technology that have nothing to do with file sharing. At least, not of the kind that Mr. Katz seems to understand. (tempting, but I won't insert a commercial here) We believe that people will use different kinds of applications. Some will be to exchange information, but many will be used to manage information. Unlike Mr. Katz, we believe that people want more control over their lives and are not content to give control of their attention and time to Microsoft, or AT&T.

    It is also kind of silly to assert that

    Peer-to-peer is touted as a democratizing force in computing, but it's hard to imagine a time when more than a handful of people will be able to: understand, let alone use, it.

    This is patently false. Some 20 million plus people apparently understand, let alone use, Napster.

    And, as an aside, is it generally accepted that "middle-class Americans, ... are always -- always -- the people who decide which media technologies will actually revolutionize the world and which will not?" I was under the naive impression that people in places like Japan and Germany and Egypt and India would make their own decisions about what kinds of media technologies suited them. I guess that explains why America is so far ahead in wireless communicatons.

    Mr. Katz says that people's uses for the net are "clear". Is Mr. Katz seeking to become the first Luddite of the Internet age? In any case, how many of these "clear" needs existed five years ago? So possibly new technologies can create new and interesting ways for people to communicate. When those ways become general, they become a "clear need" in Mr. Katz's book.

    And lastly, what's wrong with democratization? Is not more choice inherently a good thing? Mr. Katz appears to think that this technology is so worthless, that more discussion is pointless. Possibly to spare Harry and Martha in Debuque the burden of thinking about it. Qualified Intellectuals like Mr. Katz can do that for them. And anyway, they are just going to want what AT&T gives them, right? Because they don't care about doing things beyond their "clear" needs, they just want good service. I just hope that AT&T looks to Qualified Intellectuals like Mr. Katz for guidance.

  • I think a massively distributed effort is required just to make it through that article. I gave up after about the first three pages. So that would be about 0.7%

    Rich

  • Client/Server has it's place and so does Peer to Peer. Client/Server is nice because it is simple, you want something, as the server for it. Peer to Peer is nice because (in theory) you don't need the server. I think they each have their place, one is not better than the other.

    Client/Server breaks down when the server gets too many requests, so load balancing was invented. Peer to Peer is like taking load balancing to the next level. If all machines are servers, we theoretically do not have the problem of too many clients for not enough servers.

    The ideal systems will probably combine Client/Server and Peer to Peer. Real distributed computing (such as CORBA) don't restrict you to Client/Server or Peer to Peer. Server CORBA code can go on the same machine as client CORBA code. You can build the system any way you want.
  • Maybe archie provided this capability ... but if so where are the archie servers today?

    http killed ftp for browseable information, and the www search engines killed archie for indexing. The point is, that popular olden-day files were duplicated across numerous ftp servers, you used the closest/fastest ftp server, and archie searched by (IIRC) file name/short description. Very limiting, but very useful for certain kinds of information.

  • by sigwinch (115375) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @01:04PM (#314924) Homepage
    You said:
    The thing that made P2P ala Napster so great is that it was easy to search.
    Napster is proprietary archie, proprietary ftp, and proprietary dynamic IP resolution, with a nice user interface. If you don't know what archie is, look it up on Google. (Hint: people were using it to search for files on thousands of machines. The only reason there wasn't much bandwidth is because bandwidth was scarce and many people had no sound cards.) Dynamic DNS has been done for a while now (several years, and it's an obvious service), and archie/ftp have been around for *many* years. Napster's *sole* innovation was a nice interface to an easily-installed package. Sure, that's really useful, and inspiring to other developers, but it is not some brand new networking paradigm.

    And here's what Clay Shirky says on the O'Really web site:

    Dynamic DNS is not P2P, because it tries to retrofit PCs into the traditional DNS system, and so on.
    Let me get this straight, Clay: 1) Napster *is* peer-to-peer, because their host resolution protocol is not based on an IETF standard, 2) dynamic DNS *is not* peer-to-peer solely because it uses a datagram format specified in the ARPA/IETF RFCs? I'm sorry, Clay, but you're a fucking idiot.

    Nearly all of the Internet protocols are peer-to-peer, and they always have been (the only dedicated-server to dedicated-client protocols that come to mind are DHCP and BOOTP, but they are kind of special in that regard). What you are talking about is distributed servers vs. centralized servers. So quit this mindless repetition of "P2P". You sound just like those faddists who started saying "B2B" a while back.

    What's next, Clay? When I make a TCP/IP connection to a friend's computer, will I be using a TCP frame with a *true* SYN flag set. Will my use of a SYN flag to connect to a corporate mail server be an attempt to retrofit a P2P approach on the traditional protocol in a misguided attempt to impose my mindset on a protocol that is much more flexible and liberating?

    Abusing nomenclature just because it sounds nice is asinine. Abusing it as the basis for faux technical articles on the O'Really web site is idiotic. Why don't you actually learn to write some networking code and at least *try* to learn some vague inkling of the technical basis of your statements.

    Because the shift from centralized to distributed servers *is* important. It *is* a paradigm shift, and it does have tremendous implications for how people communicate and work. When I say "distributed", and I explain to somebody what it means, they can suddenly understand that it means your life will be pervaded and supported by a ubiquitous fabric of computers and information. Distributed means that you don't connect to Joe's computer, you connect to Joe's service, and it does whatever Joe wants wherever he and his machines happen to be. It means forwarding high-priority emails from trusted people to Joe's pocket communicator (cellphone/digital tablet/PDA/tricorder). "Peer-to-peer", on the other hand, implies that I talk directly to Joe. It brings to mind the telephone model of peer-to-peer communication, which is *not* the distributed model. That's why it's important to use the right words. With the right word, the right slogan, you can convey a concept in a way that attracts people. It's the difference between "Walkman" and "portable tape player".

  • Yeah, I knew that EDI sucked when writing that line. Fortunately, I've been able to avoid doing any EDI related work :)
  • by SClitheroe (132403) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:56AM (#314932) Homepage
    P2P is the very essence of the internet. It's the very essence of TCP/IP for that matter.

    Before Napster and all the hoopla over this buzzword, people were doing the same thing via IRC, FTP, NFS, etc. The protocols have changed, but the idea certainly hasn't. Now businesses are scrambling to implement "P2P", when they've been doing it all along, using things like EDI.

    Heck, we were doing it in the BBS days. The old FidoNet feeds used to trickle from peer to peer, with each node making local phone calls to transfer to a nearby node. The whole system was set up to avoid long distance charges, by forming a web of nodes.
  • by pestie (141370) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @10:39AM (#314933) Homepage
    I hate coming into a discussion this late, 'cause chances are nobody's going to read this far down in the comments anyway. But here I go...

    Katz, as usual, is missing the point. He's right when he says that the average consumer doesn't care about P2P and isn't really affected by it. P2P is an underlying technology that will provide the building blocks that will allow some truly kick-ass applications to be built. Joe Average may not have cared about the invention of plastic and probably doesn't know the first thing about polymer science, but Joe's life sure is made easier due to all that cool plastic shit he owns! People can, and hopefully will, develop applications that use P2P technology, but hide it behind an intuitive, easy-to-use user interface and that perform a useful function. Napster became popular not because it was a type of P2P technology, but because it was easy to install and use and because it did something people wanted to do - it located and obtained music. All the Napster clones, wannabes, lookalikes, etc. have all failed to become immensely popular because they either didn't do anything particularly useful or were too difficult for the casual user to figure out.

    Katz also makes another mistake - he doesn't look far enough into the future. P2P may not appeal to today's consumers, but it appeals to their kids. I'll bet P2P will have a much greater impact on the way people share information by the time today's teenagers, who grew up on the web and Napster, reach the age of their parents.

  • Originally, you have to have SOME central repository to get the peers together. Small time may very well work great with two people or a dozen who are in the same area in real life, but how will I know there is someone else out there with a peer napster-type app the same as me who is also into saving the left handed, baby seals from nuclear power unless there is a central place (like /. for instance) to have the software downloadable from?

    If the governments and other big brother types close THOSE down, peer to peer becomes hit and miss and only as good as the new release mechanism.

    DanH
    Cav Pilot's Reference Page [cavalrypilot.com]
  • by Eloquence (144160) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @09:08AM (#314937) Homepage
    Erik Moeller recently set up a mailing list for p2p journalism which suggests the direction some people believe p2p media might be taking us.

    It is here [infoanarchy.org], if you are interested. And yes, Jon is wrong, again :-)

    --

  • by babykong (163360) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @09:11AM (#314939) Homepage
    So many fads I have seen.

    Hand Calculators
    Video Games
    Personal Computers
    Local Area Networks
    Client Server
    Internet
    Ecommerce
    And Now P2P

    When will they ever learn that none of this crap works.

    Where the hell's my slide rule.
  • in light of the fact that you wrote this [slashdot.org] and this [slashdot.org]. What are your *real* thoughts on the subject? A few months ago napster was a basic right and now it is a means to steal stuff. This is why you piss so many of us off get a postion and stick with it.
  • About the "next big thing". It seems to me that in the era we are in of over-hyping everything, that you cannot tell which will be the next big thing until the people actually adopt it. It must transcend its own hype, in other words. Neither you, me, nor Katz can make something happen just by stating it.

    Hopefully the Free distribution of information will someday make hype (and stories like this one, which seems merely to jump on the hype bandwagon) a thing of the past. No longer will marketeers (CueCat comes to mind) be able to snow us with their claims and blue-sky talk. The proof will finally be in the pudding. Napster proved that.
  • I agree with most of what you said, except for one small item:

    Seti@home is designed to combine people's spare cycles to find aliens

    As far as I have seen, SETI@home is a screensaver app for people with nothing better to do with their potential CPU cycles than show off their computer's ability to crunch numbers. It's a popular alternative to the many distributed crypto projects, because SETI is a project that will probably never be completed. (Participate in a crypto project with your overnight cycles, and eventually the message will be cracked, leaving you looking for something else to join in on. SETI@home does not have this disadvantage.)

    I've meet many people who participate in SETI@home... none of them said that they expect aliens to be found.

  • Hello, this isn't new technology folks. This method of internet communication has been available as long as computer networking has. Has anybody stopped to ask why this hasn't been used before? Well, the answer is that isn't not the best solution.

    You're working at a company with 100 workstations. You aren't going to setup a peer-peer network, you're going to setup a central server because that's the best solution.

    It's the best solution for performance and maintenance. The only factor where the central server model isn't better, is in cost. In the business arena, cost isn't that big of an issue. Companies understand it will be cheaper in the long run for them to have a central server than try to maintain several workstations that all require each other to be operational %100 of the time.

    Also please note that my examples are for mid to large sized companies. I know most small offices will use a peer-peer setup. Those offices also only have a small number of workstations, say about 5. Noticing any similarities to Gnutella problems yet?

    Peer to peer has it's place. The Napster model is pretty good. It has a central server for queries, but the actual data is served from a peer connection. This doesn't address any reliability issues but it is a good midpoint for the performance/maintenance/cost factors.

    Lets all face it, peer to peer could possibly be perfect down the road. The only problem is increasing the speed/capacity/bandwidth of the current peers.

    That brings about another point, peer means something equal. A workstation connecting to a server uses the same TCP protocol as one connecting to another workstation, however we don't define them as peers. Peer to peer MUST hold true to it's definition for it to be useful. Servers talking to servers are peer to peer. 56k user - 56k users are peers. 14k users to DSL users are not peers.

    Widespread usefullness of peer to peer is a ways off. It's still evolving. It wasn't that long ago that we all used ANSI BBSes on 2400 baud modems. We evolved from that, and are still continuing to. Just because it exists, doesn't mean it's the solution for everything right now.
  • by sulli (195030) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @09:29AM (#314952) Journal
    This seems like the wrong technology at the wrong time. Only five percent of the country even has broadband, and the number isn't likely to go much higher soon, especially with an administration in Washington which has made it crystal clear that it doesn't want to pay for the required infrastructure.

    Ummm, you don't need President Bush to budget cash for cable/DSL to be available. You just need companies with business models that aren't stupid [fuckedcompany.com]. The fact that only 5% of users have broadband has more to do with its currently poor reliability and higher cost than dial-up service - and the fact that many users haven't seen the killer app (Napster notwithstanding).

    There's a difference between neat stuff and significant stuff. ... [D]o Harry and Martha in Dubuque need peer-to-peer?

    I think so. Napster adoption has been extremely fast, and not specific to techies. Legal Napster or other apps (not Gnutella, probably, if only because the name sounds obscure and the obvious web address is useless [gnutella.com]) will drive people to use P2P and adopt broadband soon enough, I think.

    And don't forget porn. I've read that there are pic trading P2P tools out there (haven't used any myself of course!) but if there's anything that will sell to Harry and Martha in Dubuque, it's quicker access to hardcore. Don't believe me? Remember VHS, which took off in no small part because it was adopted by the adult industry - and all of those pay sites that were profitable long before Red Hat.

  • Funny that all the albums you talk about buying were released before the advent of Napster. So you haven't felt the need to buy any more since you discovered that you can steal any music that strikes your fancy, eh?

    Steal away; most of us do. Just don't try to moralize it.

  • True, the P2P concepts have been around for years. What makes this new wave special is the methods used to access the system. Yes, you've always been able to FTP files from somewhere, then serve them to someone else, but what's new about Gnutella, etc. is that it's organized and designed specifically for that type of sharing.

    Of the protocols you mentioned, FidoNet is the closest thing to what we have today. IRC is not P2P except for the DCC aspect of it, which is an explicitly created one-to-one connection. The new P2P systems allow a series of one-to-one connections to appear as a mesh to the end user.

    So, yes, the actual file transfer methods have been around for a long time, but the methods to find those files are relatively new.

  • by TheFlu (213162) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @08:57AM (#314959) Homepage
    do Harry and Martha in Dubuque need peer-to-peer?

    Well, I just got off the phone with my Aunt Martha and she said that after a long discussion with Harry, they decided they do, in fact, need peer-to-peer.

    Peering into the future...The Linux Pimp [thelinuxpimp.com]

  • of p2p.

    And I've been happy with edonkey for downloading DIVX.

    I think p2p will always be there, but may be a little tougher to use, which will just keep out Joe Sixpack, so it's not necessarily a bug.
  • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @10:25AM (#314964) Journal
    I hope that Napster does not die. I hope Napster will still be around for when musicians will want to make individual deals with Napster to release songs there. Even putting in place a payment scheme so the musicians can receive some compensation. I think Napster may open the eyes of many musicians to the crappy contracts they have with the recording companies. You do not have to mass produce mp3's in order to distribute your music, as is the case with CD's, you only need one. From that one, music can be copied and copied and copied.

    Napster is in fact pretty lame for new musicians. How do you find them unless you know the title of their songs or the name of their bands? You can't. Napster doesn't allow browsing by genre.

    Much better for the new artist is mp3.com [mp3.com] - the artist gets paid for downloads, can sell CDs via it, they retain the copyright on their music. The user can download new music for free, and find out what the new artist's music is like. You can browse mp3.com by genre, so I can just poke around until I find something I like.

    To get your music downloaded on Napster, you essentially have to be famous already. On MP3.com, people can actually find you, even if you're unknown simply by browsing.

  • Could you possibly mean "distributed"?

    This is the sort of writing I find in government reports. It is part of the reason that I cannot read an entire Jon Katz article.

  • I wonder if Katz was inpired by this ZD Net Article [zdnet.com] this morning

  • by Geeky Frignit (232507) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @09:04AM (#314972) Homepage
    I hope that Napster does not die. I hope Napster will still be around for when musicians will want to make individual deals with Napster to release songs there. Even putting in place a payment scheme so the musicians can receive some compensation. I think Napster may open the eyes of many musicians to the crappy contracts they have with the recording companies. You do not have to mass produce mp3's in order to distribute your music, as is the case with CD's, you only need one. From that one, music can be copied and copied and copied.

    I believe that society has put too much stock in musical and cinematic superstars. People used to do these things for the artistic merits behind them. It wasn't until the marketing industry of the MPAA and RIAA began gouging with prices that musicians became the greedy, self-serving bastards that many are today.

    I can see where the RIAA has been detrimental to music. How many times have you heard this statement: "So-and-so is okay, but I liked their earlier stuff better." I know I've said it many times. What happens, I believe, is that because of the contracts for X number of albums, the "artists" do not put their heart into the music. They know they have their contract to fall back on. They can write a couple of good songs and fill their album with crap, and because of those good songs, they will make money still.

    Anyway, all I really want to say is: Listen to Prince, he is releasing his next single on Napster!!!
  • The biggest problem with p2p is the "give to take" ratio, or the second "p" in the equation. Some of you will contribute great things to the system, rare out-of-print recordings or printings, excellent code, or whatever.
    I on the other hand, will simply suck the marrow out of the system.

    Why? Because I am a no good bastard? =)
    No, because I am, for all intents and purposes of p2p, boring and useless. But I do make a killer martini.
    I can't code very well, I have no CD collection (I think I own about 10 or so), and I am no graphic artist. I am also, as you may have noticed, not the best writer. What does that leave me to contribute? Perhaps some bandwidth or processing power.

    Big deal.

    And so it goes with hundreds of others like me who are talented in the non-digital world, but have little to offer to others in the p2p world. We will burden the system with our taking, and we are unable to give in return.

    P.S. The offer of a martini stands for the bloke who put those killer Black Sabbath recordings out on the net. You know, the ones that you can't buy anywhere.
  • by deran9ed (300694) on Wednesday April 04, 2001 @09:09AM (#314984) Homepage
    The idea is that peer-to-peer is exciting because it harnesses all this unused space, power and connectivity, draws from the basic Net/hacker, free software/Open Source idea of reversing the flow of information, giving more power to individuals to control their own information lives, escaping government or corporation control and domination. Nodes of thought, conversation and data-sharing can flourish far from control of corporate lawyers, FBI agents or copyright snitches, and communications are more lateral and anonymous.

    So nice for peer to peer to be marketed this way, as such a rogue technology, then we always run back and cry foul when regulatory rules, or laws come into the picture. In an instance like this, where someone was pointing out just how good of a technology this is to circumvent laws, just shy of saying "Hey kid come here... wanna break the law and sell warez? Use peer to peer".

    So peer-to-peer is being championed as a technology, a business opportunity and an investment, as well as a revolutionary new means of empowering people and protecting their civil liberties and sense of individualism. Sounds pretty good.

    Actually at this point it doesn't sound good. How could anyone with enough common sense to say "your totally anonymous, and free" think that investing in this technology won't cause them the heartaches of having many people who could wander anonymously free from "government", etc., (as he states) run around commiting white collar crimes such as credit card fraud using this system. Sure now there is "cracker (not to be confused with hacker) insurance" so why not make them a fortune with the possible problems I can forsee based upon the authors comments?

    Peer-to-peer is useful where "the goods you're trying to get at lie at many endpoints; in other words, where the value of information lies in the contributions of many users rather than the authority of one." It's obvious that this could be valuable in research and some kinds of business development.

    Again referring back to the top comments, why would I, or should I trust someone down the line if I probably won't be able to determine exactly who the person is, if that person is trustworthy. At least via a website you have limited means of determining this, based on the quality of the website, most business will probably throw on a "customers" or "partners" link, etc., as opposed to me just looking for anonymous joe in west bubblefuck to do business with.

    P2P threatens to make censorship impossible. But governments have little to fear from P2P. Since everyone is an equal content provider, goes the theory, it would be almost impossible for any significant mass of people to ever see the same message.

    Hell yea it will likely introduce all kinds of horrible censorship, and again the author is dead wrong by stating all is an equal content provider. What about those offering illegal things, why would I want to be equal to their actions?

    Privacy links [antioffline.com] (well suited for this article)
  • Peer to peer isn't for the average joe; you're right about that, absolutely. Probably 90% of the people in this country have no need for peer to peer, or much of anything else on the net if you think about it. Let's set aside the trade in illicit music and software for a moment. If you think about it, the only other thing you can really use peer to peer for is collaboration, right? So, who, other than programmers, revolutionaries (I'll get to this in a minute), and scientists, would collaborate in this way?

    However, I think peer-to-peer is important for an entirely different reason. Consider the direction the computer industry is heading in. Think about MS Passport -- read the slashdot article if you want to get your daily scare. Think about their .net initiative. Think about how it seems as though the internet gets more corporate every day. Those of us who use the internet mostly to exchange ideas and publish 'zines and such are in danger, whether it seems that way or not at this early stage. Eventually, our ability to publish what we want, and swap code and files as we choose, may be significantly diminished. We might have to worry about whether we're giving up ownership of our work when we send an email or post a web page, something that would RUIN the web as we know it. Think about it -- how hard would it be for Bill Gates to get just about every large ISP on board for his initiatives? And, once that happens, what happens to your intellectual property? Kiss it goodbye, chums. Maybe.

    Here's where we get into what I'd use peer-to-peer for, and what I'd really like to see people start to do.

    Remember the Bulletin Board? Back in the '80s, when the net wasn't really all that available to most people, private individuals would start bulletin boards (BBS's) and do everything we now do on the net. There was no government control, or external influence, you just had to install a high-capacity modem and enough lines and you were in business. If you were slick, you could get a primitive internet connection and share it among your users (no web, just like, telnet and stuff).

    BBS'es were great. You could share files, communicate with your friends, work on a shared server... So, picture this:

    Microsoft gets its way. The internet is dumbed down, collaboration is affected because no one wants to let Passport's EULA dual-copyright their stuff, most people end up using stupid little net appliances... Techies everywhere are bummed. So, we get fed up, order DSL service, hack together a Linux box or three, and start non-passport servers. Then, we start a peer-to-peer network that encrypts communications between nodes so that they can't be captured except within the p2p network (where Passport, .net and similar setups are banned outright by OUR terms of use). An entire subculture forms around the peer to peer network being built, and it's used for collaboration between programmers, and web publishing among members of the group. Techie happiness returns to the world, Microsoft is foiled, and the lion lays down with the lamb.

    It gets better.

    As society gets more corporate and techies get more and more disillusioned and annoyed by what they're seeing around them, they decide to pull a mini-secession from the rest of the world and form a virtual nation. It's organized in the same way revolutionary cells were in old communist countries. One server is connected to a group of other servers, for one-way publishing downward, while they're connected to each other. No server "knows" anything about the server above it, or the servers below its peer servers, so you can think about the system as a big tree, with each node able to reference four or five children, and so on, and able to receive info from its parent node. Information can be quickly disseminated from a semi-central authority (which would have a number of peers itself, so the system would be quite redundant) throughout the network. If one node were to be shut down, at most you could shut down its peers and their child nodes. The controller of that node could then rebuild that part of the tree by assigning new systems in.

    How about that, slashdotters? A whole underground society, working via an encrypted, heirarchial tree-like network of mini peer to peer networks, happily trading files and code and whatever else they want, without having to worry about corporate america at all. You could even arrange a currency and a work-reward system, and drop out of society entirely. Members would have to "show income" as organized crime used to in the twenties, so they could get joe jobs to cover their rent and food, and handle everything else on the black market. Think about THAT -- black market tech consulting. No taxes! heh heh heh...

    JUST KIDDING -- don't sic the IRS on me.

    But, seriously. Wouldn't that be something?
    crazyphilman@programmer.net
  • I've installed BearShare on my Win98 box at home. It runs well over a cable connection. This is my observation of the software:

    Big device for trading pr0n

    It has the reputation for being the successor of Napster. And it's a great Gnutella client, but what i'm actually seeing (since it displays all the queries that people are sending) is that people are requesting almost nothing but porn.

    Don't get me wrong, you can still get whatever music you might desire, but i see it all as being completely overshadowed by the VAST amount of porn that is going through.

  • when people stop buying books in the hopes of catching the wave. Technology is nothing. Adoption of it is everything. -cwk.
  • I dont really care if Napster lives or dies to tell you the truth. I've used Gnutella, Imesh etc.. and they work just as well. I do need to argue this statement:

    the RIAA has been detrimental to music. How many times have you heard this statement: "So-and-so is okay, but I liked their earlier stuff better." I know I've said it many times. What happens, I believe, is that because of the contracts for X number of albums, the "artists" do not put their heart into the music. They know they have their contract to fall back on. They can write a couple of good songs and fill their album with crap, and because of those good songs, they will make money still.

    I actually have someone in my family that has been signed by a record label, received gold/platinum albums and then had the band broke up. What I don't agree with in your analagy is that - Most bands play for years and years (and years) before getting 'discovered' and in that time span they will have a rock solid album with their 12 best songs. Now the record company will want a follow up album in less than a year! So they have to conjur up all the talent they have to create something that is rushed to market where they're given no 'ifs ands or buts' - just get an album out (and believe me the record companies can be complete asses - money is their bottom line). So what you get is a great first album and the second, third album is just crap because they have no time to work on the songs. Talk to any musician that has been signed and I bet you will hear something similar. Oh and by the way most musicians dont get into music to make money they do it because they love making music - not because they hope to get signed and make big money (oh and just because you get signed doesnt gaurantee that you will make money - you friggen dipshit) I believe this to be a more realistic analagy of what happens when you say "I liked their earlier stuff better." So please, next time you try to think - please pull your head out of your ass first (it will at least unclog your ears for you to listen to common reasoning)

    Remember were ever you go, there you are!

1 + 1 = 3, for large values of 1.

Working...