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 ...
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.
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.