Peer to Peer Technology the Next Wave in E-mpowerment!
You receive an e-mail 6:00 A.M. while you are working on one of your telecommuter projects that states “congratulations you have contributed to a cure for cancer”. You read further to discover that it was because you have donated some spare computer time to a genetics research foundation with millions of other volunteers that this modern miracle is achieved! Does this sound like an excerpt from some science fiction magazine? Actually this may be the near future with the help of a very popular technology known as peer-to-peer or P2P as it is known in e marketing. Peer-to-peer is simply the ability to exchange data between PCs over the Internet without the traditional usage of servers. Your PC becomes a direct server that can send and receive data over the Internet by passing traditional routing.
What the hell does that mean?
Let us return to some scenarios to get a better idea of what exactly peer-to-peer can do. What actually has happened in our scenario is that the aggregate processing power of a million PCs has amassed a supercomputer like ability to examine gene data to find a way to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Without your help this would have been impossible because a foundation could have never afforded a supercomputer. Plus the PC time that you donated did not even inconvenience you one bit because you allowed the foundation to access you computer while you were asleep. This is perhaps the noblest usage of peer-to-peer technology.
On the flip side of the coin is the usage of peer-to-peer technology to co-opt copyrighted materials. The largely unauthorized usage of copyrighted music is the killer app that over 60 million Internet users are familiar with using Napster. Because of Napster’s ability to help users swap music from their hard drives it has become the fastest growing Internet Company to date. It has grown from a virtual unknown company to over 65 million users in less than two years with no major media marketing. Napster, is a file swapping software that has enabled Internet users to share music files directly from their hard drives with each other in the popular MP3 format. It has caused much debate and legal action in the hi-tech and music industry.
Mostly because it enables people to get music by file swapping with each other without paying fees and royalties to record companies and artists. In this case peer-to-peer technology has become a revolutionary form of music distribution that has taken the music companies and record stores out of the loop. While this new distribution form has rocked the traditional record industry many independent artists welcome its development. Even some major music icons like Madonna, Prince, and Chuck Dee extol the use of the new technology. This is because of its potential to let them promote or distribute their music directly to consumers via the Internet. Some of the artists see P2P as a nascent form of economic liberation because of the music industry’s notorious track record of hoarding most of the income of music sales to itself!
Still from other angle content providers over the Internet are optimistic about the usage of peer-to-peer technology to drive much more engaging experiences in cyberspace. Video delivery over the Internet has been spotty and problematic. Download issues aside it has been a very expensive proposition for content companies to deliver streaming media content to users.
This is because of the expense of having special servers and infrastructure to deliver the video to end users. However, companies like Allcast, are developing and marketing software products that will make individual PCs the servers for video broadcasts. Therefore, the processing load will be taken off of a LAN’s infrastructure and passed on to Individual’s PCs therefore, dramatically reducing costs and bandwidth for an enterprise to broadcast video.
PCs would do this by passing along the video data to each other in a chain like manner until it reaches its destination. Therefore, individual PC’s along the Internet chain would handle the distribution via P2P technology rather than video servers in a centralized point handing all the requests for data. This is just one of the middle ground business applications that holds great potential for P2P technology. To speculate the end result of the peer-to-peer trend in content and data delivery via the Internet would be the stuff of science fiction at this point. What is real is the fact that with the technology’s promise it is here to stay.
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