Freenet - Decentralized Information Distribution


Cliff Urr writes \"The Napster model for distributing music is radically extended by Freenet by using a decentralized distribution network for distributing information. Check it out here (also has software to set up you machine as a distribution node): \"

Freenet is an interesting concept that I believe was discussed on OSS4Lib (who is also sponsering a speech by Tim O\'Reilly at ALA next month). It\'s required reading for all web-heads.From the FAQ at Freenet:

1.1. What is Freenet?

The “Freenet” project aims to create an information
publication system similar to the World Wide Web (but with several
major advantages over it) based on the protocol described in Ian Clarke\'s paper
A Distributed Decentralised Information Storage and Retrieval
. Information can be inserted into the system
associated with a \"key\" (normally some form of description of the
information such as \"/text/philosophy/sun tzu/the art of war\").
Later anyone else can retrieve the information using the
appropriate key. In this respect it is a little like the World Wide
Web which requires a URL to retrieve a particular document.

Unlike the Web, information on Freenet is not stored at fixed
locations or subject to any kind of centralized control. Freenet is
a single world-wide information store that stores, caches, and
distributes the information based on demand. This allows Freenet to
be more efficient at some functions than the Web, and also allows
information to be published and read without fear of censorship
because individual documents cannot be traced to their source or
even to where they are physically stored. To participate in this
system users will simply need to run a piece of server software on
their computer, and optionally use a client program to insert and
remove information from the system. Anyone can write a client (or
indeed a server) program for Freenet, which is based on an open
protocol. Reference implementations of these programs are being
written in the Java programming language.

1.2. Why is Freenet interesting?

  • Freenet does not have any form of centralized control or
  • It will be virtually impossible to forcibly remove a piece of
    information from Freenet.
  • Both authors and readers of information stored on this system
    may remain anonymous if they wish.
  • Information will be distributed throughout the Freenet network
    in such a way that it is difficult to determine where information
    is being stored.
  • Anyone can publish information. They don\'t need to buy a domain
    name or even a permanent Internet connection.
  • Availability of information will increase in proportion to the
    demand for that information.
  • Information will move from parts of the Internet where it is in
    low demand to areas where demand is greater.

1.3. Who is behind Freenet?

Ian Clarke is the project coordinator. Other developers are
listed on the front page of the Freenet web site, and will change
from time to time as volunteers join and leave the project.

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