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OpenP2P.com: A Conversation with Bill Joy, Sun's 'Chief Scientist'

Feb 17, 2001, 14:08 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tim O'Reilly)

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"Fortune Magazine calls Joy, Sun Microsystems' chief scientist, "The Edison of the Internet." Joy is a cofounder of Sun and a member of the Executive Committee. His work on BSD Unix and Berkeley networking qualifies his as one of the founding fathers of both Unix and the Internet; work springing from his research group at Sun led to Java, Jini, and various networking technologies yet to be announced."

"Tim O'Reilly: You've been talking about peer-to-peer for a long time, and I know you're still in stealth mode on some new projects you're working on, but I'm wondering whether you have anything that you're ready to unveil?

Bill Joy: ... In 1992, I gave a talk at Esther Dyson's conference that looked forward 10 years... about having a quarter billion connected mobile professionals each carrying several devices with them. ... Having that many devices creates a nightmare because they all have to be managed and found and addressed and named and so on. We just couldn't imagine that the devices would be as complicated as conventional systems. We also felt that they had to be more reliable, so we took some early steps with Java to make things simpler and more modular. I think we've had good success with that. We also brought out the Jini technology with the idea that devices need to find each other dynamically. Now we believe that the kinds of things people are calling peer-to-peer are part of a set of technologies to deal with these same problems. ..."

"O'Reilly: I think peer-to-peer is part of a much bigger movement in the world of networking, one that really caught on with all the buzz around Napster. Napster woke everybody up to the idea that the issue wasn't just a matter of centralized vs. distributed computing, but it was somewhere in between. What do you think of Napster?

Joy: I'm a shareholder, but as I wrote in Time magazine, I don't understand how Napster isn't infringing on the rights of the artists when their music is taken without compensation. ... I think the Napster people recognize that. I'm going to be working with Senator (Orrin) Hatch (R-Utah) on the Senate Judiciary Committee to try and look at some of these issues and come up with better public policy so that we can encourage innovation but also find a happy medium here. It's not going to be easy, but not to try is not acceptable."

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