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Remember When P2P Wasn't Just About File Sharing?

from the oh-right... dept

These days, it certainly does seem like the term “P2P” is forever linked with unauthorized file sharing. However, that wasn’t always the case. It is true that it was often associated with file sharing — but there was lots of talk about other P2P applications that focused more on distributed computing — allowing more powerful applications that pulled spare cycles and bandwidth from computer systems around the world? Certainly, there are still some of these projects going — but the big promise for how distributed computing systems were going to become a hugely powerful part of the next generation of applications and services hasn’t matched the predictions from five or six years ago. There certainly are some success stories. Things like Skype show a distributed application at work — but whenever you hear people talking about P2P today, it tends to just be about file sharing networks. In some ways, this is too bad, because there were some really powerful possibilities that made sense for distributed computing. Perhaps part of the problem, though, was that it was simply overhyped at the beginning with people thinking that anything could be made better with distributed computing systems. However, not everything really makes sense as a distributed app, and when things like a distributed search engine failed to catch on, those who were simply jumping on the hype bandwagon seemed to shift gears and focus on more shiny AJAX widgets instead. That’s probably a good thing, because now it means those who are working on serious distributed systems can focus on them in peace, without having to deal with all the hype.

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Comments on “Remember When P2P Wasn't Just About File Sharing?”

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michael (user link) says:

File Sharing networks...

P2P communities have become a very dangerous place, it takes alot to trust the people that set up these private trackers for bit torrent. It seems that public trackers are safer than anything anymore, and the blow to the community just recently with the take down of OiNK was amazing, I never dremt that OiNK would get shut down. The users broke the #1 rule there and now are paying for it. Reguardless of the blow that was delte to the BT community, OiNK will be replaced in a few months… I can see it now “From the ashes of OiNK, here is 17 more trackers that are just as good”

They can shoot down anyone, but they cant stop everyone…

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re #3

I am shocked that you considering them taking down OINK to be a blow to the system.
I had never even heard of OINK until those articles. But I know of many other places. Just as I am sure that many other people have not heard of some of the sites I found and like.
Once somebody finds a site they like, they will stick with it rather than looking for more (in most cases I would say).
You make it sound like OINK was the primary site for all of this. There are already over 17 more in existence. Shutting down OINK only inconveniences the people who used it for the duration of 1 search from any search engine. I would hardly call that a “blow” at all.

Shun says:

Umm...could we lay off the bittorrent here?

I know everyone just wants to talk about torrents and Oink, but that’s not the point. We have the opportunity, here, to really think creatively about what applications and protocols could be run using a peer-to-peer format. SETI@Home and Folding (I think) are used in this manner. Also, Russian hackers are using your spare cycles to crack Vista Passwords, according to web-lore.

What would be really great would be a project like OpenSkype, or OpenVOIP, which would take advantage of the existing protocols, but run using a vendor-neutral platform.

Another great idea would be an extension of Asterisk, but based on upcoming spectrum allocations, like the 700 MHz auction. That would require open hardware, as well, but should be a step toward getting away from vendor lock.

OK, just throwing out random, probably unworkable ideas, but let’s face it. Bit-torrent is not the end-all-be-all of p2p. In essence, every computer connected to the internet is a “peer”, just not an especially powerful one, if you are working on a PC or a thin client.

John (user link) says:

P2P = good and practical

Our company’s GigaTribe is p2p software that is used for sharing folders between computers. Most people use it for legitimate exchanges of large files that are too burdensome for email systems and save the time and money you’d otherwise spend mailing a DVD to someone. You can even use it to access your pc from another pc… Yes, a few users might use it to swap movies or music, but the practical uses outweigh the pirate-oriented ones!

John from http://www.gigatribe.com

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