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Creating a Backboneless Internet?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the tricky-part-is-finding-the-right-medium dept.


Peter Trepan asks: "The Internet is the best thing to happen to the free exchange of ideas since... well... maybe ever. But it can also be used as a tool for media control and universal surveillance, perhaps turning that benefit into a liability. Imagine, for instance, if Senator McCarthy had been able to steam open every letter in the United States. In the age of ubiquitous e-mail and filtering software, budding McCarthys are able and willing to do so. I Am Not A Network Professional, but it seems like all this potential for abuse depends upon bottlenecks at the level of ISPs and backbone providers. Is it possible to create an internet that relies instead on peer-to-peer connectivity? How would the hardware work? How would the information be passed? What would be the incentive for average people to buy into it if it meant they'd have to host someone else's packets on their hard drive? In short, what would have to be done to ensure that at least one internet remains completely free, anonymous, and democratized?"

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You're on it baby.. (5, Informative)

brokenin2 (103006) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746882)

It would look an awful lot like the internet we have now.

You're describing the original design of the internet, which we're still running with essentially.

In practice though, it would be insane to let everyone with a DSL line to two different locations update routing table through the entire internet. The mechanisms to allow this exist (bgp, ospf) but major ISPs that don't want their network to fall apart prevent it because their service would quickly turn to crap. ISPs with missing filters have actually caused internet wide splits, when the entire internet tried to route through someone's T1's connected to two different ISP. BGP with a little better cost system could help that, but anyone could still cause a split anytime they liked. Think of an entire internet that acts more like IRC.

The core of the internet is still just a bunch of peers, but if you want things to stay up, they've got to be a select group that really know what they're doing. You're still free to peer directly with anyone you want, just don't expect everyone else to use your internet connection to get there too. Most people don't want to have to buy two internet connections for marginal gains anyway.

Perhaps a software solution like TOR or Freenet could help you sleep better at night?

Internets!!! (2, Funny)

NorthwestWolf (941862) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746897)

More than one internet? Looks like George W. would finally have his Internets!

Tier 1s? (5, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746930)

It would look an awful lot like the internet we have now.

Except for, you know, the Tier 1 ISPs, on whose networks practically all our traffic passes at some point.

Control them, and you control the net.

Re:Tier 1s? (5, Interesting)

brokenin2 (103006) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747028)

I'm not saying that there isn't a core to the internet. It's there, but that's not by design, it's a convention to keep the internet from totally sucking.

His question was, "Is there a way". The answer is yes, but you don't want it, so people stopped doing it. Anyone can peer with anyone else, but the copper/fiber cost to take the core out of the picture prevents anyone from wanting to do it. If you're worried about big brother, encrypt.

If he really wants what he's asking for, he can start finding peers on the other side of the net, and he can keep *his* traffic off the backbones once he has enough peers (and he's built some enormous route tables as well).

Re:Tier 1s? (1)

audi100quattro (869429) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747134)

This could be obvious, but, most if not all Tier 1's employ ring topology in building their backbone infrastructure for enornous amounts of redundancy. That kind of redundancy couldn't be provided by almost any P2P network. The net isn't going down anytime soon, It's the potential filters which could be put in by them that is worrisome.

The answers to that are Encryption and Tor, when will they go mainstream?

What you're suggesting isn't a bad idea at all, it's what Cringely keeps saying Google will do.

Re:Tier 1s? (2, Informative)

toddbu (748790) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747190)

The answer is yes, but you don't want it, so people stopped doing it.

Then what do you make of the Seattle Internet Exchange [] ?

Wouldn't better use of encryption fix his problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747077)

I don't understand why corporations allow employees to send unencrypted and non-digitally signed emails.

It seems that most all his concerns about network snooping and network security would be solved instantly if people just used some really basic security tools that have been around a very long time.

I think I need to submit an "ask slashdot" regarding if or why your company allows people to send unencrypted and/or unsigned emails over the open internet.

Re:You're on it baby.. (5, Informative)

ZagNuts (789429) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746945)

Perhaps a software solution like TOR or Freenet could help you sleep better at night?

Don't know much about TOR but I just thought I'd clarify about Freenet. It is indeed a software solution to what you are asking about in which the sites are accessed in an entirely peer to peer manner. Instead of having static routing tables located at specific points each computer in the network maintains its own routing information. If a computer doesn't know how to get to a certain site it guesses by asking a neighbor if it has the desired data. Data is cached throughout the network so that sites are stored as distributed files, meaning at any one time if your computer is a part of Freenet it could have information related to a number of sites.

The good thing about Freenet is that site accesses are entirely anonymous. There is no way to be traced AFAIK. One of the bad things is that it takes a computer a long time to build up enough routing information to access any websites at all. You have to run the Freenet program for a few days before you are able to access anything and even though its painfully slow. The other problem that people have is that you have to store any content that goes through your computer. Freenet is plagued with child porn sites because the anonyminity that it provides. This means that if you are running the freenet program you are likely to have child pornography data stored on your computer even if you have never visited those sites. While the legality of this is questionable, the ethical issues are obvious.

Still it is a very interesting concept and definitely has its applications (China anyone?).

Re:You're on it baby.. (1)

austad (22163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746974)

Tor is essentially what I think you are trying to describe, but it's an overlay of the current internet. As the parent poster noted, it takes smarts to make the internet work correctly, and letting joe blow run equipment that could potentially disrupt everything probably isn't such a good idea. Even some ISP's manage to screw things up for everyone because they have clueless engineers.

Re:You're on it baby.. (3, Insightful)

jovetoo (629494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746976)

I agree... let the service providers provide the service. If you want privacy, use encryption. Unless some higly specialised entities have developed quantum computers and kept it a secret, they won't be able to break it in any time frame suitable for mass communication snooping.

Re:You're on it baby.. (5, Insightful)

Mattcelt (454751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747021)

I think that response may have missed the point of the submitter's original question. I read it as "is there a way to prevent all traffic from traversing predictable routes and hubs, thereby disallowing any entity from collecting all of one's transmitted data and using it against one?"

Essentially what the submitter is interested in is a meshed network, which to my knowledge is the only network topology yet created which does not use hubs, centers, or buses to carry conglomerated traffic. Remember that things like bittorrent, bgp (less so), and other similar protocols are really creating "virtual" meshes, not real ones - all of your traffic (and that of every other person in your segment) is still travelling to your ISP, and that to their backbone. So anyone who sits at those hubs or backbones would be able to see all your torrent traffic, and who it is going to/from - it is only the separation of the ISPs and the RIAA/MPAA/FBI that keeps them from knowing your every move on the Internet! (Encryption and proxies help, but it aren't a foolproof solution, btw.)

Also, TCP is designed to be fault-tolerant, but also semi-optimizing, taking the shortest perceived route to its destination. So unless a backbone is down, most (if not all) traffic from you to a host between which the backbone sits will travel on that backbone, very predictably. TCP is not privacy-sensitive.

The short answer is that in a wired world, there is no feasible way to create a mesh. The strength of the mesh is algorithmically tied to the number of other nodes each node is connected to. So unless you're going to dig up the yard between you and, say, three of your neighbors, and they and two more of theirs, and so on, across the entire country, you will end up with a topology which looks more like what you've already got, with a smaller number of larger rings and stars, each funneling through a central location.

In a wireless environment, the possibilities are much better. Some police precincts in the U.S. have been experimenting with mesh-networked radios, where each radio is a repeater as well as a transceiver. Thus a linear configuration of radios could extend the range from perhaps a 30-mile radius to a 60-mile-per-radio diameter for as long as the chain is unbroken. This isn't the optimum configuration, however, since it is presumed that one would want redundancy, so you would be forced to configure the mesh in such a way that you could talk to at least three other nodes at any given time. This requires a very high density of nodes, so it would work much better in a more densely-populated area than one nodes are scarce.

I hope that answers the question.

Re:You're on it baby.. (4, Informative)

r_naked (150044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747064)

In practice though, it would be insane to let everyone with a DSL line to two different locations update routing table through the entire internet.

We seem to be scaling rather nicely. []

Re:You're on it baby.. (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747107)

Apparently not.

Re:You're on it baby.. (0, Troll)

FreelanceWizard (889712) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747135) [] -- The internet the way it was meant to be. Check it out, you may be surprised.

403 Forbidden?

If that's the Internet was meant to be, sign me up!

We seem to be scaling rather nicely.

It's an excellent scalability mechanism -- everyone gets turned away. Bravo, sir.

(I'm sure there's just something wrong with the server right now, but between the topic and this post, I couldn't resist some gentle joshing.)

Re:You're on it baby.. (1)

r_naked (150044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747178)

Sorry about that, I just checked and that hosting provider is having problems. Figures when I make a post to slashdot.

Try [] it is a little out of date but I don't control that site.

Also, the "fairly accurate map" is not even remotely correct.

Cache p2p (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747073)

One major technical challenge I can see with p2p Internet -- essentially, a distributed (cached) p2p network would work on most static webpages, but what about on dynamic pages?

Re:You're on it baby.. (1)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747117)

If you are concerned with keeping communications over the Internet private you don't change the Internet, you encrypt the traffic you are trying to keep private. There are a number of good options available ranging from encrypting your messages to establishing VPN connections with the systems you communicate with.

Re:You're on it baby.. (1)

Perseid (660451) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747120)

Perhaps a software solution like TOR or Freenet could help you sleep better at night?

Well, not quite. ISPs are already throttling/blocking BitTorrent, so it wouldn't be that hard to block Freenet too. What the original poster asked for was an alternative to the current Internet. FN is build on the Internet we have now, and thus subject to many of the same problems as anything else on the 'net.

Uh...IPv6 (2, Informative)

NeepyNoo (619951) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747248)

'nuff said.

Can't run Danish cartoons on it, can you? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746884)

Or is it just spineless print media that refuse to publish them?

FYI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747240)

Even in Western countries it's illegal to properly depict Prophet Mohammed because of child pornography laws.

Bad Idea (5, Insightful)

Kasracer (865931) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746896)

If Bit Torrent is of any example, this would be a bad idea. One day you may be able to get to Google fast and then the next, it may take forever to load.

Peer to Peer internet would be horrible. Not only would it be unreliable, but at time slow.

Sure some agencies can access our information because it's centralized, but if we don't want them to see something, it's not hard to encrypt it. Hell I'm even working on an encryption application.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

arminw (717974) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746982)'s not hard to encrypt it....

Indeed, if anyone has deep dark secrets he/she wishes to share with someone, just encrypt with something like PGP. Your secret will be safe unless someone wants it bad enough to torture either you or the recipients for the password. If someone wants to force a secret out of you, they'll get it, unless you, like many young muslims are willing to die for it.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Ankur Dave (929048) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747011)

Peer to peer is only so slow because of most people's slow upload rates. In this idea, since the ISP is cut out, people upload at the same speed that they download at, so the internet wouldn't be that bad.

Re:Bad Idea (2, Interesting)

Firehed (942385) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747017)

But encryption is a waste of time if you can bypass the evildoers entirely.

The main problem with a P2P internet would be bandwidth, at least at this point. There just aren't the resources available - hardware or software - for people to be running /. out of their mom's basement. Even a good amount of small businesses wouldn't be covered by a fairly decent dedicated server, but they can't afford to set up a cluster to run things like a hosting company can, let alone hire someone to set the thing up (or be expected to know how to set it up and maintain it themselves), even if everyone had a petabit connection to the internet for a buck a month.

So it's really not a feasable idea. If it were realistic, it'd be great, but without some major hardware changes (large amounts of solid-state flash-volitility RAM-lifecycle storage at affordable prices) and obviously a complete structual revamp, it couldn't work.

So until we all have streaming-ten-next-gen-uncompressed-high-def-movie s-all-at-once internet connections with equally fast storage that has nanosecond seek times, it's just not realistic. So until that time comes, keep encrypting, and then encrypt over that (because if it's a bitch to crack the first layer of 512, you're screwed trying to break through that second layer of 2048).

Or just lobby for us regaining our privacy. Too bad there are so many people willing to lose every bit of their privacy if it helps to reduce the already-miniscule chance of them being injured in some sort of "preventable" terrorist attack.

Re:Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747111)

OK. I guess you don't know a whole lot about how the internet of today works. You said: Peer to Peer internet would be horrible. Not only would it be unreliable, but at time(sic) slow. Well guess what! We *HAVE* peer to peer on our current internet. I'm not talking about bittorrent. I'm talking about DNS. (AND YES VIRGINIA, YOU CAN DO SPARE LITTLE ON OUR CURRENT INTERNET WITHOUT DNS)! DNS is a system where routers share information with other routers so that they know how/where to send your message (including email, web page requests, you name it). Routing table information is passed between routers in a peer-to-peer fashion. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

pboulang (16954) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747304)

First, let's all remember that DNS is a tree.. (SUN used to be the . in .com). Second, DNS does not share information between routers. Possible we were thinking of BGP or OSPF (or pick any dynamic routing protocol)? Though BGP is a fair to middlin' example of peer to peer, unless you have a lot of interfaces and a huge amount of memory, you are again just a node on a tree.

No wonder this was posted under AC...

Not exactly practical (5, Informative)

georgewilliamherbert (211790) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746901)

If you need something like a terabit of bandwidth between the US east and west coasts, consider how many peer to peer link chains across the country will be saturated carrying it.

One of the major problems right now in the commercial ISP backbone environment is what happens if there's an outage; what's called route flapping, where routes dissapear and reappear, and all the routers affected have to recalculate how to get to various endpoints, can already saturate the router CPU logic for big, industrial grade room-full-of-racksize-router backbone facilities. Going to a more diffuse network at high bandwidth requirements exponentially makes this worse.

P2P across a city? Not ridiculous.

P2P across the world? Baaad idea.

Re:Not exactly practical (1)

FFFish (7567) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747125)

P2P between friends and acquaintances? Rockin'.

Re:Not exactly practical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747164)

P2P across the world? Baaad idea.

Imagine a decentralized wireless network running at average 1Gb/sec. I seriously hope it happens, otherwise government will eventually do to the internet what it did to television. (For an obvious example of why this is bad, look at the way every major media channel sides with government on war.)

Re:Not exactly practical (1)

iamlucky13 (795185) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747301)

Perhaps this is bogus, I was reading some bit of history on the internet, and some people in the 60's or 70's objected to the idea as they understood it. They were thinking of a truly distributed architecture like a physical version of what P2P applications simulate, and according to their estimates, there was no where near enough copper in the world to build it. Every single user would need lines connecting to multiple other users and you would potentially have to connect through thousands of nodes (depending how many lines the average node had) in order to connect to someone across the country. I'm a little skeptical of the copper claim, but it would be a lot more expensive than the current model, unless perhaps it is feasible to accomplish it all wirelessly.

Instead, what we have are the end nodes connected to ISP's which in turn are connected to a limited number of backbones. It is still distributed, but not nearly as much so.

Circa 1982 (4, Interesting)

sphealey (2855) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746905)

> Is it possible to create an internet that relies
> instead on peer-to-peer connectivity?

You have just describe the net (later the Net, still later the Internet) circa 1982. You can search Usenet to read about the excitement level when USR 2400 baud modems were released: doubling of connection speed to transmit netnews!

Of course, you can also read about what happened when news (alone) was distributed on a meshed basis.


Keep it out of the hands of the EU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746907)

Keep the Internet out of the control of any particular government, but especially those particular busybodies.

Whatever happened to the "nuke-proof" aspect of the original military purpose for the Net? I always thought that the very existance of "backbones" contradicted this design parameter; was it a later consequence of the Net having outgrown its original madate?

Yes, but not really. (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746910)

Is it possible to create an internet that relies instead on peer-to-peer connectivity?
From a hardware/connection standpoint, every single user would have to have a router that could connect, somehow, to every other user/router.

That is the "backbone" and where the "bottleneck" is.

Get on Freenet ? (1)

shashark (836922) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746913)

Freenet: what []

More people use it, more helpful it could be.

Re:Get on Freenet ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746988)

The EFF sponsors TOR. I do not know much about it, wich one is better?

Re:Get on Freenet ? (2, Interesting)

blue_adept (40915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746990)

freenet exemplifies what a peer-to-peer internet would be like: a disaster. It's slow, it's cumbersome, and more to the point, it fails to solve a problem a doesn't really exist in the first place. Nobody cares about anonymity at the EXPENSE of speed and convenience, except child pornographers, law breakers, and the paranoid. That's why networks like freenet and ZeroKnowledge ultimately fail.

That's not to say freenet not an interesting experiment. That's not to say anonymity isn't desireable. but please, anyone that's tried it knows it's not a panacea. If you're really paranoid, use a proxy like anonycat [] , or any of the zillion others. They are more than adequate.

Creating a Backboneless Internet? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747200)

Is this to go with our backboneless politicians?

How did this make it to the front page? (0, Flamebait)

ltwally (313043) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746919)

Seriously, how did this make it to the front page. Not only does the poster obviously know very little about networking or computers in general (come on... "hosting someone else's packets on my hard drive ... eh.. that's retarded. hard drives are SLOW), but this idea is patently stupid. The originall gnutella was a great example of what would happen -- it would work just fine in small environments, but as the users scaled, the speed would actually decrease due to no centralised DNs et all.

I most ignore the trolls about slashdot going to hell ... but this technologically infeasiable and outright rediculous idea should never have made it past the editors. Come'on guys, what is the deal?

Re:How did this make it to the front page? (-1, Troll)

Musc (10581) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746939)

It is ridiculous that you said rediculous.

Re:How did this make it to the front page? (0)

Musc (10581) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747252)

Pointing out a common but hideous spelling error is not a troll.

Re:How did this make it to the front page? (1)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747014)

The original poster says nothing about lack of centralised DNS. It would be possible to have a P2P routing infrastructure but still have a centralised DNS system.

Re:How did this make it to the front page? (4, Insightful)

Z0mb1eman (629653) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747052)

Oh, chill out.

Not everyone is a networking guru (I know I'm not). I'm sure many people without much networking background have wondered the same thing as the article poster at some point or another, quite likely while reading all the "government/telcos/corporations/Godzilla are going to eat our Internet" stories here on Slashdot. The comments in this story are the perfect place to give these people a better understanding of how the internet works.

This isn't a question that's easy to Google if you don't already know what to look for (in which case you don't need to), and the poster shouldn't have to take a networking course just to get an answer. I would say it's a perfect question for Ask Slashdot - if you don't like the user's ignorance, you could take the time to educate him and the many other Slashdot readers like him with a more informative post.

Re:How did this make it to the front page? (2, Funny)

djSpinMonkey (816614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747056)

Not only does the poster obviously know very little about networking or computers in general (come on... "hosting someone else's packets on my hard drive ... eh.. that's retarded. hard drives are SLOW), but this idea is patently stupid.... I most ignore the trolls about slashdot going to hell ... but this technologically infeasiable and outright rediculous idea should never have made it past the editors. Come'on guys, what is the deal?

Mod parent up +1 Funny. For one thing, the suggestion this guy's ridiculing describes the current architecture of the internet. For another, he's saying you couldn't route packets through your hard drive... because it would be too slow.

Comedy gold, I tell you.

What's purple and commutes? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746921)

An abelian grape!

All mail was read in WWII (5, Informative)

Derling Whirvish (636322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746932)

Imagine, for instance, if Senator McCarthy had been able to steam open every letter in the United States.

Before and during WWII all mail crossing an international border in or out of the US was steamed open and read. This included all mail, all packages, all telegrams, and all telephone calls. In addition to all mail being steamed open and read, it was censored [] if the Army deemed it to be necessary to support the goals of the Army. Letters would arrive with portions cut out by scissors. They also censored all international media -- radio, newspapers, and magazines both incoming and outgoing.

It's quite easy to imagine as it's already been done.

The Solution Is Crypto (4, Insightful)

blofeld42 (854237) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746935)

Encrypt your email traffic, so that even if it is intercepted it can't be read.

The government can still do some traffic analysis (they sniff headers rather than read the contents of the messages) and they can learn a lot from that, but such is life.

one way it could be done is (1)

Dan9999 (679463) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746936)

to stop using ports, have only 2 types of packets, QOS and not QOS. And the last part that really answers the question is all connections to be encrypted with whatever the best is at this moment.

I don't see this happening though unless a "ware of the day" like bittorrent pops up.

Re:one way it could be done is (2, Funny)

MrPerfekt (414248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747062)

My head just exploded after reading that.

Democratized? (1)

CyborgWarrior (633205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746948)

Forgive me if I'm being naive, but wouldn't such a free and open, decentrallized system be very different from "democratized". It would be more arachical than anything, as it would be free of government control.

Maybe Possible and Makes Sense (1)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746955)

Preface: Not a networking expert or a graph theory researcher:

I read "Nexus" not too long ago. It talks about the study of networks and its results in various different fields. It wasn't as deep or detailed as I had hope but it mentioned a study where it was found that the Internet is really not a decentralized network but a hub and spoke network. It can survive numerous attacks in general but if even a small number of central hubs are taken down, connectivity suffers. Obviously that means it's even easier to spy on someone simply by monitoring these central hubs. On the other hand, it also means the Internet can be physically attacked and is less resilient than originally envisioned. So the Internet's ability to survive is linked to the number of ways for data to get from A to B. The more survivable, the less centralized, the harder it is to spy on someone.

IIRC, the book points out that the centralization occured because of the cost of laying down cables and the need to minimize the number of hops. Imagine the cost of linking up every node with fiber. Or the number of hops packets have to make if we were all connected just to our neighbors. There is however, an alternative to spoke and hub. You can achieve similar results with a network where most people are connected to their neighbors but there's a random sprinkling of long connections. So imagine a network where most people are simply connected to their neighbors but maybe 10% of those neighbors have connections to distant cities like NYC to LA and maybe another would have NYC to San Francisco or even medium hops from Dallas to Houston. Wireless technology means we can pretty soon connect to our neighbors. The other part of the equation would require people having these longer jumps. We've heard of record breaking WiFi transfers so it might be possible in the future for someone to work on easily deployable, affordable connections that can go a hundred miles or so. It also makes sense for the government to sponsor research on long distance wireless connections as the Katrina disaster demostrated such a need and as we depend more and more on the Internet for commerce. Who knows, they might already be working on this. WiMax's range is a hopeful sign.

Re:Maybe Possible and Makes Sense (1)

et764 (837202) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747114)

Preface: Not really a networking expert or a graph theory researcher, but I'm doing research on peer-to-peer/swarm intelligent web search, which is somewhat related.

The type of network you're describing is known as a small-world network, and it has a lot of cool properties. The US Social Network is widely regarded as a small world network. A Harvard Professor named Stanely Milgram demonstrated this property rather dramatically in 1967 when he mailed 160 letters to randomly chosen people in Omaha, Nebraska. The letters contained instructions to forward the message on to a stockbroker in Boston by means of a person they knew on a first name basis. Forty-two of the letters made it to their destination, with a median of about 5.5 hops. This is where the six degrees of separation between any two people in the world comes from.

Anyway, the really cool feature about these types of graphs is that they're highly clustered, but have short average path lengths also. Your friends generally all know each other, but you always have a few in a group that have friends on the other side of the country or even the world. These people serve as intermediaries between other highly clustered groups of friends.

If a network could be constructed to take advantage of this phenomenon, it could have some pretty cool performance. It's not too hard generally to run a 100Mbit connection over to your neighbors, so there is usually way more bandwidth between nearby peers than necessary. With some aggressive caching or mirroring, you would very rarely have to get outside of your local neighborhood, and this would ease the load on the Internet quite a bit.

This is really the sort of thing Freenet is trying to do. Unfortunately, at least in my experience, Freenet suffers from to much latency to really be useful.

Wireless Routers routing wireless traffic (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746957)

I think it would be awesome, my wireless router actually routing wireless data around in a network of millions of wireless routers. Unfortunately I can't will it into existance.... or can I :).

Dumb idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746960)

Pointless, upgrade our networks first, 5/1Mbps is ridiculous compared to the 100/100 in Japan.

Go Wireless (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14746968)

Imagine a wireless Internet.

This would obviously require some major technological achievements, but would probalby be more practical 10-20 years into the future.

We already pretty much have blanket cell phone coverage in the civilized world. Just imagine all those cell phone towers as giant signal repeaters/routers.

Re:Go Wireless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747126)

If every user was also a repeater that would be something. Quite a bit of hardware, but all the same, very worthwhile. Such a network could almost never crash from a hardware malfunction if the software was sufficiently dynamic. I have to imagine that this would be the most practical way to go if there is no low cost, existing connectivity infrastructure with which to compete. It would surely abolish the client/provider internet model forever. Then again, patterns of heavy and consistent usage would probably emerge and still be exploitable.

Re:Go Wireless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747172)

can you imagine if cell phone giants got IPv6 right before cable companies and lesser telcos? ;) verizon has had service plans to allow you to use your cell as a modem through their ISP, directly as a NIC with an adapter, and now says they won't stop you from using it as a modem with your ISP! (for the record, i'm just a customer who enjoys viral discounts. are you IN yet?) lol.

i can also imagine when cable companies give you some free onDemand and charge more to make VOIP calls while telcos charge less to download video formats, while giving you some VOIP for a small fee. ;) keep smokin', huh? ...

how about ipv6 IS decentralized voip IS 5th gen cell! that's where they merge, then since all current backbones have to be replaced for ipv6, and there's no way they're gonna be cheaper, you'll hopefully find more smaller backbones, and more reliance on wireless bandwidth... using more 802/cdma/gsm/... enabled connectivity to create a naturally more decentralized internet in location, if not "control". peace.

  -- dut

Re:Go Wireless (1)

$un.pv (955433) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747273)

It will be all the more easier for govt to be a passive/active listner in an wireless environment.

Re:Go Wireless (1)

Aranth Brainfire (905606) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747321)

"We already pretty much have blanket cell phone coverage in the civilized world."

Uh, no? Unless the east coast of the USA isn't part of the "civilized world" any more...

Mesh networking? (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746971)

Isn't this pretty much what mesh networking is supposed to do?

Hmm, well... (2, Interesting)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 8 years ago | (#14746995)

A backbone-less Internet... is it just me, or is that exactly the way the Internet was originally envisioned and built? The reasons we moved away from that are purely economical, and until there'll be an economical incentive to move to a backbone-less distributed system again (and, for that matter, an economical incentive to actually make it work at least as well in terms of speed and reliability as the system we currently have), things will stay the way they are now.

The fact that the centralised system of today lends itself to easy censoring etc. is unfortunate, but if you really want it to change, you have to understand why it came to be.


Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747004)


Let's bury this simply (1)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747013)

I'll keep the refutation simple.

If there are no backbone providers, then who will you be getting your internet connectionS (capital S intentional, as you'd need two) from?

I mean, I could probably resurrect my 4 line Wildcat BBS, but then again, you probably think Kermit is a frog.

Re:Let's bury this simply (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747074)

Now you've got me trying to remember the name of the chat "network" around 1990 that consisted of a whole bunch of systems with 3+ modems... one for someone to call into, one to connect to the next system over, and one to connect to the next system over in the other direction.

Around that point in time I mapped every NXX in the state I lived in, and what NXXes could be reached from it without incurring local toll charges. There were a couple neighboring states, and for each of those, there was one NXX near the border that could call across to an NXX in the next state (which of course was in a different NPA as well). I found that rather interesting.

Re:Let's bury this simply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747106)

"I mean, I could probably resurrect my 4 line Wildcat BBS, but then again, you probably think Kermit is a frog."

That brings back memories. Remember Wildnet? And there was some sort of door type program which linked dial-up BBS's together to form a sort of "network" - I wish I could remember more about it. Now I have to go through all my old shareware CD's (the ones I kept in my quad speed 7 disk changer) and find that thing!

Not hardware. (1)

r_naked (150044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747015)

What you describe would be nice if everyone and their brother could afford a link into a frame cloud. But that just isn't realistic. So what some of us have done is exactly what you describe, but virtually with software.

Check out [] for more info.

Re:Not hardware. (1)

r_naked (150044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747203)

The hosting company is having some problems. Please use []

McCarthy references (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747020)

The author is somewhat misinformed regarding Senator McCarthy. The only people he ever accused of being communist agents were.... um... later proven to be communist agents. The person most slandered during the McCarthy era was... Senator McCarthy. Calling someone a "budding McCarthy" is a compliment, one which I doubt the author intended.

Re:McCarthy references (1)

MrPerfekt (414248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747072)

Edward Murrow was a communist agent?

Watch this movie [] for some McCarthy'ism.

You learn your history from 2 hrs of Geo Clooney? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747080)

I wouldn't be too quick to point that out to the world.

Legalities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747035)

IANAL, but aren't there some features required by lawful access that providers have to provide to law enforcement? Telcos have things like PEN registers, and some things should require a warrant, but as part of a normal investigation, some things don't.

Just some thoughts (1)

argodk (640595) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747044)

I agree the question doesn't exactly suggest a deep insight into networking, but since the submitter actually says so, I don't see the problem. As for wether such a question should make it to the front page, I actually think the question is interesting, at least from a computer science point of view.

As I see it, the only reason for having large backbones, in the terminology of the question, is to simplify routing. Thus, the only reason for having them, is the lack of a fast, world-wide, precise (as in up-to-date) routing algorithm, which could support a world wide network with millions of nodes. Recently, a lot of work have been done in routing protocols for large mesh networks, and the real question is: How large a network can be supported using similar techniques.

So i guess the answer to the question is: This could work with current hardware, if only we could implement a proper routing algorithm, which, most likely, we can't for a network the size of the Internet.

Backboneless Internet? (1, Funny)

Howie Felterbush (955427) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747049)

Put France in charge of it!

HA! Ha hah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747142)

ROTFLMAO!!!! Hoo boy, Howie, you are just TOO MUCH. HAA!


maintaining/expanding a spineless population (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747050)

using corepirate nazi execrable scriptdead hypenosys to keep yOUR minds off of almost everything that's relevant.

how is it allowed? massive amounts of whoreabull bullshipping eye gas?

for many of US, the only way out is up.

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'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi life0cidal glowbull warmongering execrable.

some of US should consider ourselves very fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis.

concern about the course of events that will occur should the corepirate nazi life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order.

'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Democratized or Anarchitized? (1)

PurplePhase (240281) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747055)

This is a bit of brainstorming, or going for a walk through some thoughts:

You're talking about actions which would create a new medium (well, copy an existing one) yet have it exist outside the purvue of political, religious, puritanical, military... really outside all social forces. You also want it to exist outside of monetary concerns (otherwise the social forces kick in).

Really you don't want anyone to have power over it. Well, I mean, you do want someone to have power over it - someone to decide the best technologies for the network, or technology interfaces, and someone to deal with the problems that will crop up. So perhaps the better phrase is: to be responsible for it on all levels, rather than to have no power, or to manage it, or somesuch.

And it isn't just an action, but actions over time: After getting the system setup there will be maintenance, adding new services or extending the system to support others, beside the user support itself... Really it is an on-going commitment. Or at least an on-going set of actions, if not a commitment by anyone in particular.

So is there a way to organize people in an effort yet keep it a-political, a-moral, supported/funded by the people who care, and still cross all governement and prejudicial boundaries?

A True Freedom of Speech environment, yet that has no worries about outside interference because with everyone caring about it and for it, there are no single/multiple points of failure which would eliminate the whole system?

Sounds a bit more like an organized, hierarchyless, peer anarchy populated by responsible (=able to/will respond), accepting people rather than an uninformed, bigoted democracy (or ent [] constitutional republic) populated by followers and controlled by scared, privileged children.


Confusing layers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747058)

...having a P2P "internet" doesn't change the "backbone" of internet (the routing between carriers to PHYSICALLY get the signal from point A to point B). It is a much higher level.

Spineless? (1)

nanojath (265940) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747060)

Judging from current events, all you have to do is import the internet to China and it becomes spineless... or at least everyone involved in doing business on it does...

Solving a problem by creating another? (2, Interesting)

saifatlast (659446) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747070)

Unless you're going to hand deliver your data to the recipient, you will always have to trust someone with it. In a P2P system, the size of the entity with access to your data is smaller, but the number of entities with access to your data is bigger. I contend that it is easier to control and regulate a small number of large entities than it is to regulate a huge number of small entities.

To me, it would be a better use of resources to put regulations into place (and enforce them!)

You have it backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747086)

The backbone isn't the problem, the access is.

The backbone providers (Level3, the UUNET part of MCI, Cogent, Teleglobe, etc) aren't the ones threatening to create a tiered internet model, the last mile carriers (SBC, Bellsouth, Verizon) are.

If anyone can point me to an article where a BACKBONE provider has talking about tiered, filtered, or anything other than packet in/packet out network connectivity, you win a cookie.

ISP backbones of today run 30 to 40 GBPS! bonded circuits to avoid congestion. They don't really give a crap about the contents of your packet, their job is to deliver it. They understand this, the poster doesn't.

Simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747094)

"In short, what would have to be done to ensure that at least one internet remains completely free, anonymous, and democratized?"

Two things.

1) Ensure that no one on such a system abuses it (which is hard to define - there are the obvious ones like child abuse and attacking the network in various ways, but there are also more subtle cases)

2) Ensure that we never put anyone in power who has both the will and the skill to mandate all forms of communication be open to inspection. (Whoopsie)

In short, you can only fight human nature with human nature, and the result is always a compromise. You can't have total freedom for everyone and have a functioning society, but too little freedom and the criminals might as well be running things (and often do.) It's a hard problem.

Public Key Cryptography, awareness, and discipline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747108)

If people would stop believing the network to be secure as it transmits their cleartext data, if they would become disciplined in the used of effective crypto, we could at least move to another threshold: 1. We would divide governments into two categories, those that will, and those that will not, outlaw cryptography, and 2. We would eventually discover if, indeed, government agents have the capability to break cryptographic systems that are believed to be secure.

Absolutely. Encryption, or self-deception. (2, Insightful)

Slartibartfast (3395) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747194)

The bottleneck is infrastructure: there's no way around the fact that your cable modem/phone line/T1/DSL/whatever winds up at some aggregating point. Wireless is, in a real sense, even worse -- sure, it could avoid said aggregation, but it's wide open. The only true way (and, by the way, the idea behind the genesis of S/WAN) is for encryption to become de-facto. If and when that happens, THEN, and ONLY THEN, will there be the ability to avoid scanning of your stuff by .

Of course, I sure the hell wouldn't put it past the gov't to outlaw encryption. It's not like they haven't done it before.

Pure Wireless Mesh (5, Interesting)

Agar (105254) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747115)

Seems to me that the biggest risk to individual freedoms is transport over centrally/corporate owned lines.

Why not leverage nearly ubiquitous wireless access points (and possibly ad hoc wireless card settings) to create a completely wireless mesh that doesn't even connect to the Internet at all? This would parallel the development of the original 'net, where it starts as a bunch of island networks that get interconnected over time.

Think about it-no phone lines, no centrality, no existing infrastructure. Nothing to "tap", very hard to track. Even better, no infrastructure so it could be built from scratch. IPv6, anonymizing, encrypted.

Imagine a set of open source tools that take the best features of mesh networks and peer-to-peer, running exclusively over home wireless technology. One package could include a complete set of apps to get "on the mesh" including the routing intelligence, a "secure sandbox" for shared files/web pages, a browser, and caching. Run the package, and maybe at first you only connect to another geeky neighbor-but you don't know which. Check out his home-brew page in the browser, poke around the files he put up. As more people come on line, what you can access increases, sometimes dramatically as networks are interconnected.

(Maybe initially the system could tunnel through the internet to connect disparate networks and gain critical mass. At some point this will always be necessary to get across oceans or challenging geographies.)

Chicken and egg problem? You bet. Realistically, the three p's would drive it, as they do many new technologies: porn, piracy and privacy. But the opportunity is there for so much more.

Speed would suck, sure, due to routing inefficiencies. But consider that the average bandwidth would be at 802.11 speeds: minimum 10Mbps, more likely 54Mbps. If I get 3Mbps on my cable line I'm thrilled. Latency might be high, but no one would be running Quake 3 on this. And wireless tech is only getting faster, while mesh routing and caching technologies are only getting smarter.

I really think that if a truly independent, hacker-run next-gen internet will ever exist, it's going to be over home wireless. The entrenched media companies are too aware of the money making opportunities to let the "free ride" on their infrastructure continue forever (even though it's not a free ride, but don't tell them that). Unregulated spectrum is about the only Free space left.

Use it to create a network that's truly decentralized, owned by the people, and anonymous from the ground up and you can change the world.

Re:Pure Wireless Mesh (1)

name773 (696972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747302)

nothing to tap because you can just intercept it.

willing and abel (1)

farker haiku (883529) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747127)

I'm going to assume you used abel as a tongue in cheek reference to cain and abel [] , right? RIGHT??

Oh, how I pitty them (4, Informative)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747129)

Imagine, for instance, if Senator McCarthy had been able to steam open every letter in the United States. In the age of ubiquitous e-mail and filtering software, budding McCarthys are abel and willing to do so.

As an administrator of a few reasonably small domains, my first thought was oh, the fools!

You don't want to read every piece of e-mail that comes into even one site, let alone the whole internet. You don't even want to try to write programs to do it.

/dev/null, I tell you, /dev/null! The only sane thing to do with 99% of the e-mail is route it to /dev/null in the most efficient way possible. All else is madness!

You would be better off trying to understand the inner thoughts of a lava lamp then trying to figure out why anyone thinks anyone would buy "farmasuiticals (the 1 U've been lOOking 4!)", let alone ingest them! Or invest in "s+0cks" that are about to "+ake 0ff" based on the say so of a stranger named "Brandice Hornyslut." Or the pointlessly malformed sludge, the server errors from misconfigured machines...if anyone really wanted to hide something they'd be about as well off e-mailing it as flushing it down the toilet--and trying to find it would be about as pleasant.


it's all about WiFi (1)

victorvodka (597971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747157)

WiFi will be the technology that allows the REST OF US to create networks to rival the internet. The frequency is pretty much unregulated (and, because of microwave ovens, unregulatable). Once every (or every other) house has a WiFi router in it, a suburb has the infrastructure in place to be its own part of a backboneless internet. Connections from it to elsewhere can depend on a few hackers in the community with the means to talk to hackers in the neighboring ones using esoteric technology (including links to redundant fail-overable old-school internet connections). Finally, there needs to be some good code to organize the mess. But the advantages that result would be enormous: huge unregulated pipes from everywhere to everywhere. with all sorts of untraceable free content. It's an intellectual property (or a God-I'm-glad-Osama-kept-me-in-office politician's) worst nightmare. But I think it's coming.

Re:it's all about WiFi (1)

demmer (623592) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747234)

wrong. what do you think connects your imaginary free hotspots? yes: your local isp with its backbone network.

do you really think routing traffic of thousands or millions of users though a wlan only network would work?

Re:it's all about WiFi (1)

victorvodka (597971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747274)

no, you're totally right. i don't know what i was thinking.

Good God man, you've discovered USENET! (4, Informative)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747191)

You've described the original implementation of USENET. Participating machines would dial each other up and exchange current traffic. A message injected at one machine would eventually end up in the rec.practicaljokes.hotfoot newsgroup on every participating machine within a day or two, just by this simple machine-to-to-machine exchange.

Re:Good God man, you've discovered USENET! (1)

stox (131684) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747218)

We could bring back pathalias, and do it for email again, too.


That's the internet all right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14747215)

I started writing a little tell-off to the guy who asked this. It turned into a small university lecture. basically the following explains the "idea"s of the internet. I've never worked in the industry, so I'm talking from a purely theoretical point of view. It's generally accurate though.

So, having studied the internet in detail at the senior university level, I can tell you that you have just described the internet. Now, notice that internet is made up of two words, inter and net, which stands for network. Inter = between entities, network = the entity. The point is that the network works by design to be a collection of proprietary networks that agree to share information in a standardized way. We're talking about ip and routing table standards. The problem is that connecting to the "internet" is really expensive. For this reason, only large companies do so (more on this in a sec). Some of these companies are "providers". These "providers" were a new kind of company in that all they do is buy access to the internet, and then allow people to join their network(s). When you're buying a connection through a provider, you're buying a shared piece of their connection to other networks. By having two networks communicate, you have the internet.

Now the original system started to get overloaded from lots of people. So then "someone" (providers/government/whe exactly is not really pertinent) got together to improve performance. They built what is "the backbone". Basically its a system of high capacity, high speed connections that connect global regions (like western canada to japan). This caused the providers to end up on networks of their own, because the only way to make connections REALLY fast (we're talking software/firmware here, not hardware) is to have small routing tables, so they limit the number of people allowed on it. They do this with economics, so they just raise the price until only the limited number of people they want are left. This is why it's expensive - if it were cheap, we'd all just connect to the backbone, which would in turn break the backbone (or at least slow it down).

Long story short, the internet is peer-to-peer, you're just not a peer. Do some research into Cisco and other providers of this highend hardware and you'll see how they make billions selling their stuff -> it's really expensive. As cool as MySQL is, it's really not that easy to make in circuit diagrams, which is basically what they do. Providers amortize the price of this across their subscribers. A Provider, by being connected to other networks and maintaining servers, is part of the internet. You, are part of your providers network. The internet isn't called intercomp for a reason - you would need potentially multiple database entries in your routing table for every computer in the world, or else your packets would just "fly out" into the world bouncing from computer to computer until they find a computer with the right information. It would take a long time for your packet sent from Florida to randomly choose to jump to a computer in Russia where it might find a reference in a routing table with an entry for a website with high-end vodka. It would be so rediculously slow and eat a stupid amount of everyone's computer's cpu and memory to route all these randomly flying packets.

The beauty of the internet is that these layers of abstraction - networks of networks, can be added on the fly, and they are. The example I gave was pretty simple - there's more than 1 degree of separation between you and the backbone - but unless you work on the architecture of some companies like Rogers, AOL, or whatnot, you probably don't know how many layers there are, and they might not either. The beauty is that you don't need to - the abstraction is good enough you can just plug more servers in and get a performance increases.

What about Peer-to-Peer? well, I don't think you know what peer-to-peer is. Peer-to-Peer is not "my computer sends stuff directly to your computer". It's "My computer knows your computers name and so it sends stuff to my local provider's server, which sends it to a bigger server, which sends it on the backbone, which sends it across the atlantic, which sends it to a server in germany that doesn't have a good routing table, so it sends it back across the atlantic, it gets bounced back to France, then onto Britain, then to a local providers server, then to your buddy's computer across the river from Tate Modern, and you both laugh at how dorky the new giant spider made out of bubble gum that Tate Modern just bought for $4 billion and that your buddy just took a picture of and sent to you over msn is".

The difference between that and pre-peer-to-peer is that you're skipping some intermediate server that tells you the ip. Your packets used to have to go through some central website which potentially doubles above transfer time, plus the lag of going back through the hardware to software layer (which is really slow compared to crossing the atlantic), doing a database query, and so forth.

My Conclusion. Good idea, they though to of it. You have it. Feel free to start your own any time. Just don't buy a connection to a provider, buy yourself a router, and now anyone who plugs into your router can be on your internet - presto, you're officially rebelling against establishment while spitting in "the man"'s eye (he might not notice though). Then maybe you can run cables between your house and your friends' houses so that you can play counterstrike together, but then you might need another server closer to their houses to speed up routing. This might start to get expensive, so then you might need to get them to pitch in $200 bucks each, but agree on $5/month forever. Then you want to get your mom on your internet cause it's cool, so you run a cable a few hundred miles from Kansas City to St. Louis, but that's a lot of cable so the price goes up to $10. Then you find a guy in France who wants to connect . . . Well, your little blue wires don't perform that well across an ocean, plus fish will always be taking little bites out of them, so you might need to buy some fibreoptic infrastructure . . . .

Creating a Backboneless Internet? (1)

Anonumous Coward (126753) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747238)

The wonderful internet of all kinds of intricate P2P human communications depends on a very simple basis of physical communication: the cable. And that in turn depends on geography. You can build millions of P2P networks for short distance, but that's no internet. Global reach requires cross-ocean cables and there are just so many of them (and satellites, for the sake of accuracy). That's your bottlenecks. If they get 0wn3d by some senator, all your data on them are belong to him.

You can't avoid passing your communications over senator McCarthy's cables. What you can do though, is use his cables and give him the long nose anyway. The long nose goes by the name of "encryption".

Thus, the answer to your question is no, it is not financially feasible to create an internet that relies on P2P-connectivity, but it's not necessary either. The problem is not at the level of connectivity, but at the top-level of the data. Stop using hotmail to begin with, start routine-encrypting your communications as the next step. There's your P2P internet. At least until the day that backbone providers refuse to carry encrypted data...

been there, done that. (2, Insightful)

Quixote (154172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747267)

It was called UUCP. :-)

Was this supposed to be a joke? (1)

Kaldaien (676190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747288)

Correct me if I am missing something here, but is not that how the internet already works? There is no guarantee that any two packets will take the same path to get to their destination. Furthermore, the idea of "storing packets on a hard drive" is nothing short of absurd. There are no hard drives large enough or fast enough to record every packet a router receives, much less reassemble them in the proper order.

The infamous Carnivore was one thing, relying on a predictable user-level protocol (SMTP). But the crazy notion that all packets from party A to party B will travel the same path and can somehow be logged is ludicrous. It would take cooperation from dozens of ISPs and precious router CPU time, where carnivore only required cooperation from the ISP who hosts a particular mail server of interest. The idea of tapping 2,000 US phone calls at any given moment to investigate terrorism is clearly a waste of taxpayer money and only lulls the truly stupid into a sense of security; however, the author's idea is just plain stupid no matter how you look at it.

Useless and pointless... (3, Insightful)

Vexler (127353) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747289)

Is /. really running out of news to cover that we have to resort to this kind of "I am not a specialist nor do I really care to do some basic background reading, but here goes" talking points? I see this kind of pseudo-deep-intellectual topics a lot on sci.crypt, where someone would claim to have found a brand-new algorithm, only to have one or several of the following happen:

1) The algorithm gets shot down in about fifteen minutes by several people who really know their stuff,
2) Someone posts, "Oh, this is exactly the same thing as that zippity-zing-zang algorithm that Chuck Dumbo 'invented' some years back. It's completely bogus."
3) Someone posts a follow-up question, and based on the reply given by the OP you suddenly realize that he has no clue whatsoever about crypto design.

It really is not that hard to research some basic, layer-1 information about networking and deduce some fundamental operating principles (as someone already pointed out, one of which is physical cabling). Cisco has plenty of introductory material that even my wife the musician can understand. Do your homework first, and then come back.

McCarthy vindicated (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747310)

It's a pity that the VENONA project [] was only declassified almost 40 years after McCarthy's death. It proves that he was right all along.

Centralization almost unavoidable (2, Informative)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14747314)

Look at GNUtella. Years ago, a problem was noticed: some peers are far more capable than others. Search traffic became heavy enough that it was saturating dialup users. This wouldn't have been so bad if the protocol didn't also ask for pseudo anonymity; this led to the networks occasionally dividing in two as a set of dialup users flooded off the net. The solution is to organize the network so that high capacity peers are on the inside, and dialup or otherwise impaired users become "leaves" of sorts. Gnutella2 uses this approach, and this has been added back to Gnutella in some fashions.

The end result of this unequal distribution of resources is that centralization is the most efficient use of them. For the vast majority of Internet users, efficiency and performance are paramount. I hear far more complaint that Bittorrent is slow than that it's centralized or not anonymous. Even if you're willing to discount performance, the price of implementing a peering based system is greater, since it costs to maintain each link. People have tried using wifi to create mesh networks that operate sans "backbone" but this doesn't scale well either. Nor is it anonymous or difficult to tap.
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