"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
"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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