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O'Reilly Network: Gnutella and Freenet Represent True Technological Innovation

May 15, 2000, 21:24 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Andy Oram)

"The computer technologies that have incurred the most condemnation recently -- Napster, Gnutella, and Freenet -- are also the most interesting from a technological standpoint. I'm not saying this to be perverse. I have examined these systems' architecture and protocols, and I find them to be fascinating. Freenet emerged from a bona fide, academically solid research project, and all three sites are worth serious attention from anyone interested in the future of the Internet."

"In writing this essay, I want to take the hype and hysteria out of current reports about Gnutella and Freenet so the Internet community can evaluate them on their merits. This is a largely technical article; I address the policy debates directly in a companion article, The Value of Gnutella and Freenet. I will not cover Napster here because its operation has received more press. It's covered in "Napster: Popular Program Raises Devilish Issues" by Erik Nilsson, and frankly, it is less interesting and far-reaching technically than the other two systems."

"In essence, Gnutella and Freenet represent a new step in distributed information systems. Each is a system for searching for information; each returns information without telling you where it came from. They are innovative in the areas of distributed information storage, information retrieval, and network architecture. But they differ significantly in both goals and implementation, so I'll examine them separately from this point on."

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