Stay of Execution

In case you haven\'t heard by now, Napster was not shut down on Friday. If you\'d like to learn more on this subject, O\'Reillynet.com has a Story that compare all the latest and greatest P2P software. This is technology that is changing how people share information, and is worth keeping up on.

\"In essence, Gnutella and Freenet represent a new step in distributed information systems. Each is a system for searching for information; each returns information without telling you where it came from. They are innovative in the areas of distributed information storage, information retrieval, and network architecture. But they differ significantly in both goals and implementation\"More from Orielly

I\'ll end this technical article by suggesting that the Gnutella and Freenet continue to loosen the virtual from the physical, a theme that characterizes network evolution. DNS decoupled names from physical systems; URNs will allow users to retrieve documents without domain names; virtual hosting and replicated servers change the one-to-one relationship of names to systems. Perhaps it is time for another major conceptual leap, where we let go of the notion of location. Welcome to the Heisenberg Principle, as applied to the Internet. Information just became free.

Gnutella and Freenet, in different ways, make the location of documents irrelevant; the search string becomes the location. To achieve this goal, they add a new layer of routing on top of the familiar routing done at the IP level. The new layer may appear at first to introduce numerous problems in efficiency and scaling, but in practice these turn out to be negligible or least tolerable. I think readers should take a close look at these systems; even if Gnutella and Freenet themselves turn out not to be good enough solutions for a new Internet era, they\'ll teach us some lessons when it\'s time for yet another leap.

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