P2P Foundation

The Foundation for Peer to Peer Alternatives

Could 'Peernet' be separate from today's internet infrastructure?

Here are some musings I posted as a comment on the P2P Foundation blog, in response to a Post of Simon Edhouse - The Medium is the Mess... - which makes the point that we should not confuse the Web with the Internet by using these terms in a loosely interchangeable way. My thoughts are, that quite separate from both the Net and the Internet as defined by Edhouse, peer-to-peer could give rise to a different type of entity that links us up without being subject to controls except that we may wish to exercise ...

The comment

P2P may in time give rise to something entirely different from both the Internet and the Web as defined in this article. The Web and the entire Internet structure are corporation controlled and we are mere guests, much like the first people sending email and discussing on the usenet, timidly using some of the bandwidth that was there for entirely different reasons.

P2P needs to develop its own infrastructure quite independent of the hardware and even the connectivity that powers today’s internet. I see real peer-to-peer connectivity starting with consumer driven mesh networks based on WIFI or WIMax or a combination, and a gradual separation from today’s internet even for long range connectivity, which could in a first instance be driven by P2P radio bridges. Mobile device mesh networks could be part of this. As almost everyone has a mobile phone today, it would take little to hack the system these things run on to allow them to form networks among themselves, in addition to the standard connectivity into the mobile communication structure through repeater antennas.

At the same time as a real P2P communication infrastructure develops in parallel with the existing infrastructure of the net, we might also think of backing up the data that is on the internet today on a cloud of personal computers, possibly with a novel way of distributed and redundant data storage inspired by an algorithm that mimicks holographic storage of data. There is a huge potential in personal computer hard disks for hosting the parts of all-the-data-there-is and there is more than the necessary computing power on line at any given time for reconstructing that data residing everywhere and nowhere, on the cloud of networked computers.

Of course communications could be re-invented in a secure and spam-free manner. Much work has been done on identification, which may come in handy. Money could flow freely on such a network and it could be quite different from what we consider money today. There is an open money discussion hosted on this ning group which seeks to define the parameters of what we may consider money in the future.

Eventually, the P2PNet could grow so pervasive that it takes over most of the functions of today’s Internet while adding new things we never dreamed were possible.

Perhaps 'Peernet' would be an appropriate term to distinguish the future P2PNet from both the Internet and "the Net" as described by Simon Edhouse in his article.

Would 'Peernet' be desirable?

My first idea was that we might need such a net as a backup of the internet, so in case of a major catastrophe, we would not lose connectivity that today depends mostly on physical connections such as optical cables which are vulnerable and may go down in any major catastrophic event. The mainframe computers on which we depend to act as servers are not immune either. So a distributed architecture, that can re-construct its data and function regardless of the number of peers involved, seems ideal for guarding against catastrophic changes.

But not only that. With the experience we have gained from the Internet, Peernet could be designed to be spam-free and secure, and impervious to any outside interference.

It could also function as the monetary system of the future - see the open money discussions - and might have other advantages that are not yet obvious.

What do you think?

Views: 6910

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Patrick replied on p2pr list


copy / pasted from Patrick :

" The following are not necessarily focused on 'mesh' networking, but

are more generally addressing the shared property ownership of that
physical infrastructure.

On a similar note: I am forming a plan for an alternative
organizational form (or business model) that solves the typical
problem of power concentration during the growth of such endeavors
which would apply across all types of sharing, not just internet

http://Frankston.com >>My current interest is moving beyond the 19th
century concept of telecom to community owned infrastructure. This
would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the US and much more
value by creating opportunity for what we can't imagine.

http://VillageTelco.org >>an easy-to-use, scalable, standards-based,
wireless, local, do-it-yourself, telephone company toolkit

http://TheConnective.net >>Together we can replace the telco's 'last
mile' - the communication networks at the neighborhood level - with
our own 'first mile' of free and open connectivity.

http://netBlazr.com >>netBlazr customizes next-generation, but
commercially tested, directional radios and networking equipment to
deliver high-speed broadband through your office window.

http://MuniNetworks.org >>Communities across America have set up
community broadband networks to ensure access to affordable, fast

>>From the Digital Divide to Digital Excellence

http://WeRebuild.eu >>We Rebuild is a decentralized cluster of net
activists who have joined forces to collaborate on issues concerning
access to a free Internet without intrusive surveillance.

http://seattlewireless.net >>SeattleWireless is a grassroots Community
Wireless Network project in Seattle, Washington. Its goals include the
creation of a broadband wireless metropolitan area network, as well as
the creation of tools that help us achieve that goal.

http://Sites.Google.com/site/wasabinetwifi >>Do you want $9.99/month
wireless Internet without needing a telephone line, cable TV, or
satellite?  Do you want free email? Do you want to own your
community's Internet network with your neighbors?

http://guifi.net "

Well, it seems that thought, as expressed here in the article and the numerous comments does have more than just a transitory effect...
Venessa Miemis over at emergent by design just posted a listing of

16+ Projects & Initiatives Building Ad-Hoc Wireless Mesh Networks

the idea does seem to be catching on...
Following this thread on p2p list
I will also paste it to this wiki, for further collaborative editing :
Note : 
It would be nice if we can find ( or experiment together ? ) 
an easy way to support the set up
of a p2p-mesh / distributed cloud networking , including a model to provide it with internet access.
I would wish for an easy to deploy, easily scalable, easy to self-maintain mesh,
with data transparency concerning its self-awareness ( data about the mesh available to all users )
I still have a lot of unresolved questions, and will be happy to introduce you to such questions, or listen to any answers some of you may already have.
What could be an easy to deploy and cheap approach ?
And what business model to use, as to connect the mesh to the internet ( this has a cost ).
I notice some of the following "packaged" solutions :
the google supported Meraki Mesh
or , better ? , its open source counterpart Open-Mesh



Yet even with Open Mesh, I get confused between


and ask myself if the "controller" offered in the .com one is open source and gpl ?
Can the price of the deployment of such packaged solutions be reduced further ?
Reduce its price to that of installing a specific mesh networking software on wifi enabled devices, such as smartphones, laptops, ...
as is proposed in the case of the OLPC ( one laptop per child project )
I also ask myself questions regarding compatibility,
or rather, capability to use a variety of communication protocols
I did not test various protocols.
I notice that, for a mobile capability ( in case of smartphones and laptops being included into the mesh ? ), a mobile ad hoc protocol may be useful ?
Hence using the "batman" protocol ?
Which is used and developed by
This has been discussed earlier on 
As of today, end 2011, what solutions would we recommend using for such deployment ?
Yet such protocol would still need to run on a software, hence OpenWRT or a customized version of it such as Commotion ?
OpenWRT seems to be a linux based operating system run mostly on wifi routers, and Commotion seems to be a customized version.
I remember being suggested to do it by flashing a Linksys router ( installing it on the router ) ,
such as
( Some of these routers can be bought with openwrt linux pre-installed. )
Regarding the business model, I like an approach also taken by Fon
It consists in sharing ones bandwidth with other users,
yet it requires to purchase the FON router and use their ( closed source ? ) software running on it...
"To become a Fon member (Fonero) and join the Fon community, you must own a Fonera router or a router with the Fon software built in. This allows you to share a little of your Wi-Fi at home, and in exchange get the right to use other members’ Fon Spots."
What hardware alternatives are there ?
Is it preferable to use open source solutions and non bundled hardware ?
WRT54GL and the like routers ?
Possibly also combined with Plug PC's
for setting up a set framework to which mobile devices can connect and add themselves to as to increase the density of the mesh ?
Are there softwares that could enable the accountancy of internet bandwidth sharing solutions ? Some kind of mutual credit system, but for bandwidth sharing ?
With as business model, to finance the backbone routers hardware purchase and operation, the possibility , as with FON, for non contributing members to buy bandwidth credit ?
Are there existing solutions that can measure as peer contribution, not only internet bandwidth sharing,
but bandwidth routing, creating an incentive for people to install a software which includes their device into the routing cloud/mesh ?
Providing Electricity for the Grid-Mesh :
It would be nice to create a synergy,
by using the Mesh to facilitate the management of electrical smart grid's,
while also providing for its own energy autonomy.
I imagine the wifi routers grid ( on roofs ? ) to be combined with a small horizontal windmill electricity production capability.
Such windmills create almost no noise, and compared to photovoltaic solutions, may require less technologically intensive and difficult to produce materials, as to facilitate their maintenance and reduce dependency on non-local economics and resources on the long term. 
They could feed into the main energy grid, 
or in case of disconnection from the grid, could feed a battery, that itself enables more continuous provision of energy for the router ?
The battery, ideally, is not polluting and can be DIY produced ? using salt , charcoal , aluminium ? http://www.instructables.com/id/Aluminum-Can-Saltwater-and-Charcoal... )


Zaq shared : http://project-byzantium.org/about/

A Linux LiveCd to boot on...

"The goal of Project Byzantium is to develop a communication system by which users can connect to each other and share information in the absence of convenient access to the Internet.  This is done by setting up an ad-hoc wireless mesh network that offers services which replace popular websites"

Dante :

Nice. Useful distribution to add to a ready to boot collection of linux distro's on a usb key ( http://liveusb.info/dotclear/index.php?pages/os ) 

Evolving towards some kind of meshed freedom box ?

I could imagine a whole mesh of low power consuming plug pc's - 2watt, 2 dollars a year in electricity consumption ? ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plug_computer ) such as this kind of model adapted to the wall sockethttp://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2010/11/computers-ge...

I could also imagine compatibility with some existing mesh network protocols such as Freifunk-OpenWRT :

I wonder if this is already included in Byzanthium ?

I did not test it myself, but if I understand properly, the Freifunk mesh protocols can be flashed onto specific routers : http://wiki.freifunk.net/Freifunk_Firmware_(English)

By the way, android and other linux kernels ( such as debian / ubuntu ) seem to converge

I also like to imagine compatibility with android apps ( in alpha development at the moment, and requires a rooted system ? ) 



By the way, I could imagine some day playing with an android via a simulation environment, or perhaps even booting on android via a live cd for x86, and test such options ?

http://www.android-x86.org/releases/releasenote-4-0-rc2 ; http://code.google.com/p/live-android/

Another recent android tool which may be interesting to play with :



May also be interesting if it included FreedomBox's Privoxy http://www.freedomboxfoundation.org/news/freedombox-privoxy/ developed by the FreedomBox project http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FreedomBox


Would be interesting if it could be compatible in a mix of mesh which could include freifunk relays. And at the same time also enable connections with the serval relays based on android based mobile phones ( which are also comptible with batman mesh protocols ? )

Some recent progress - storing data on a p2p cloud...


We are building an enterprise grade distributed cloud file system and have been looking into producing an open community version.

This would function much like dropbox only the user would have their data encrypted on their devices to ensure security and privacy - and never be left in the hands of 3rd parties (including us). 

The idea is to build something that has no single point of failure or attack. The intention is to create a secure and open platform that can support the emergence and adoption of disruptive technologies, particularly in the areas of social enterprise and finance.

Is this something that would be of interest to you personally? Do you know of anyone else doing this? If so, what are their limitations or barriers to adoption? The challenge I'm facing is that many of our advisors believe this could be a drain on energy and limited resources (given our startup status) and advise against it. At the same time it's something that I'm passionate about seeing in the world. 

I'd like to gauge how much interest there is and whether anyone has suggestions for creating a viable community version business model that can at least allow it to be self-sustaining. Also, if you are interested in trying it out, please leave your email in the link below to register for the beta when it becomes available early next year. Thanks."

Another work in progress:

"Shareit! (http://shareit.piranna.5apps.com/), the first P2P filesharing webapp build entirely on client-side Javascript and HTML5, has reached version 1.0.

As main features it works inside the browser without needing any external plugin nor server (it's pure static content), but it's also designed using web standards like WebRTC (http://www.webrtc.org/) or DataChannels (http://dev.w3.org/2011/webrtc/editor/webrtc.html) (currently using a polyfill (https://github.com/piranna/DataChannel-polyfill)) so it's almost impossible to break down without switching off all Internet. Also, as main design topics there are simplicity, annonimity and security of communications, and it pretend in short-time to become the first Darknet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darknet) build on Javascript and usable on web browsers without plugins.

You can get the code on GitHub (https://github.com/piranna/ShareIt) and more info at the development blog (http://pirannafs.blogspot.com)."

Direct communication from cell phone to cell phone seems to become a distinct possibility. This article on dailywireless.com has the latest developments with links to what's being done in various places to make this work. 


Project BATMAN is making Android smartphones capabile of peer-to-peer communications, instead of relying on a centralized cell tower, explains Geek.com and Network World.

In an emergency situation where mobile networks are either down or overloaded and there’s no WiFi, cell phones are useless. Unlike land mobile radios, used by police and fire departments, they don’t have the ability to communicate directly with each other. Until now.

The Better Approach To Mobile Adhoc Networks (BATMAN) joins smartphones together in an ad-hoc, mesh network, capable of device to device communication. You can share files and even send messages with the right application...

Ted Video : Danny Hillis: The Internet could crash. We need a Plan B





© 2024   Created by Josef Davies-Coates.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service