W3C Steps Up: Wants To Create A Decentralized, Distributed Web System

from the moving-forward dept

We've discussed in the past how the whole Wikileaks response from governments has only helped to expose areas of internet infrastructure that should be decentralized and distributed, but are not. Of course, much of that is now being cleared up. For example, there was plenty of talk -- what with the US government seizing domains and all -- about setting up a distributed web system that bypasses a centralized server (and potential censorship choke point), such that it can't easily be filtered. It appears that this may already be happening and as was just announced, it's being undertaken by the W3C. That ought to add plenty of legitimacy to the concept, which many anti-Wikileaks folks have insisted was merely a geek pipedream.

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    aldestrawk (profile), 6 May 2011 @ 6:38pm

    Not a big deal

    I don't see this project as being revolutionary. First off, they are just talking about putting APIs in the browser to allow for direct browser to browser communication. Applications, separate from a browser, already exist to transmit such peer to peer media streams. Also, I don't think the addition of a P2P architecture for browser communication is meant to replace a client-server model for HTTP or HTTPS. It seems more appropriate to consider this as a complement to a client-server model to support collaboration over a browser. A great deal of web content is of transitory interest and, thus, inappropriate for distributing via a P2P architecture. As an aside, I would hate to see the effect on home routers by the consequent oversaturation of the NAT tables. That could be fixed, however, with more capable embedded routers and a transition to IPV6.
    As to the issue of bypassing censorship, a P2P architecture for a browser could be used by a government to pinpoint all the users. Imagine if China was paranoid about copyright infringement. They could easily identify and jail all those infringers that, in the US, are hidden behind a leased IP address and judicial constraints on identifying the attached computer/user.
    The architecture of the internet and, thus, the world wide web is already decentralized and distributed. The aspects for which control is centralized, a single DNS system and a single domain registration and IP address assignment system
    need centralized control to avoid fragmentation of the internet. Governments attempt to censor, via domain seizures for example, ultimately encourage fragmentation. Attempts to counter censorship should not also encourage fragmentation.
    I have not really thought this through, but if you are thinking that a P2P architecture for browser communication will completely replace a client-server model, I believe that would also encourage fragmntation. It certainly could make information harder to find. Imagine looking through Google search results to find news about a particular topic without depending on results from specific domains.

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