Chapter 3. Remaking the Peer-to-Peer Meme

Tim O’Reilly, O’Reilly & Associates

On September 18, 2000, I organized a so-called "peer-to-peer summit” to explore the bounds of peer-to-peer networking. In my invitation to the attendees, I set out three goals:

  1. To make a statement, by their very coming together, about the nature of peer-to-peer and what kinds of technologies people should think of when they hear the term.

  2. To make some introductions among people whom I like and respect and who are working on different aspects of what could be seen as the same problem—peer-to-peer solutions to big problems—in order to create some additional connections between technical communities that ought to be talking to and learning from each other.

  3. To do some brainstorming about the issues each of us are uncovering, so we can keep projects from reinventing the wheel and foster cooperation to accelerate mutual growth.

In organizing the summit, I was thinking of the free software (open source) summit I held a few years back. Like free software at that time, peer-to-peer currently has image problems and a difficulty developing synergy. The people I was talking to all knew that peer-to-peer is more than just swapping music files, but the wider world was still focusing largely on the threats to copyright. Even people working in the field of peer-to-peer have trouble seeing how far its innovations can extend; it would benefit them to learn how many different types of technologies share the same potential and ...

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