"Rip. Mix. Burn." ...

P2P: Technically Speaking,...

Napster and Beyond

Issues to Consider

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If Baboons ran Schools ...

By Thom Gillespie, Café TECHNOS Maître d¹Igital

Issues to Consider

A really big issue is the asymmetric bandwidth problem caused by both Cable and ASDL connections to the Net. Both installations are designed for faster download than upload, which in an evolving P2P environment will create nightmares as more and more users serve data back to the Net rather than just download data. Universities never expected their student populations to become publishers overnight. Up to 30 percent of American universities banned Napster because of bandwidth issues, not copyright issues. In San Diego, Cox, a local cable access provider, ordered hundreds of its customers to stop running Napster for the same reason not because they were violating copyright laws but because of the amount of bandwidth they were using. DSL may be the better technology, since the bandwidth stream is equivalent uploading and downloading data. Regardless, anyone managing a network needs to pay attention to the bandwidth issue with P2P technologies.

Other issues have been around for years. There is the ever-present issue of metadata, finding ways to describe information so it can be found in the first place. Librarians do this in libraries. But this problem continues to get worse as collection development overflows the Net to P2P networks. Libraries and librarians have always been able to provide authority for the information they collected, but there is little authority on the Internet unless you go to CNN, the New York Times, or the Library of Congress.

On P2P networks, managing trust, accountability, security, and accountability will be continuing problems, more so with issues of privacy and authors being able to publish information anonymously.