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Nando Times: The new world of Gnutella

Apr 04, 2000, 06:18 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Howard Weaver)

"But another revolution may be incubating beneath the surface of the increasingly commercialized and corporatized network world. Underscored by strong encryption and revolutionary networking software that makes the Internet even more anonymous and uncontrollable, the new net may well be closer to the populous, anarchist roots of its origins."

"The latest incarnation of this potential is a so-far unheralded program called Gnutella that can make every connected computer on the Internet an independent, distributed node of information - essentially making the system invulnerable to censorship or accountability. Though other software with similar capabilities has been around for a while, Gnutella and an announced new system called freenet are billed as big advances in capability."

"On the World Wide Web, information is accessed from central "servers" with identifiable addresses. In most cases, authorities can find and disable a server if they need to. A site offering illegal software or pirated music, for example, would generally be vulnerable to discovery and punishment."

"But Gnutella and programs like it operate not from central servers, but peer to peer. As explained by a Wall Street Journal columnist last week, "On a distributed system, there is no centralized brain to attack. So there's almost no way to turn it off short of finding and unplugging every machine connected. ... Shutting down one of these networks would be like trying to stop every phone conversation on the planet."

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