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O'Reilly Network: Ian Clarke Has Big Plans for the Internet

Nov 19, 2000, 15:02 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Richard Koman)

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"Freenet - one of the Big Three of P2P (the others, of course, are Napster and Gnutella) - has mostly been written about, even by founder Ian Clarke, as a censorship-proof network, where no one knows where a specific piece of information exists. Even the owners of Freenet nodes don't know what content exists on their computers. But Freenet is much more than an anonymity system: Clarke has built into it the seeds of a radically new Internet...."

"What makes Freenet technology radical is the way information is propagated across the system. On the Web, a person puts up a document on a server and clients ask for it. The more popular the content is, the more difficult it is to make it available. If your document is a new book by Stephen King, your server starts to buckle under the load, your bandwidth slows to a crawl, and not only the popular document, but all documents on your server become less and less available. To alleviate the problem, you have to add more servers, more redundancy."

"In Freenet, as Clarke explains in this interview, a request for information not only delivers the information to the requesting node, but also replicates the document on the nodes closest to the requestor. This has two effects: information moves closer to people who want it and the more popular information is, the more copies of it exist. Unlike the Web, the more popular content is, the more - not less - available it is."

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