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The Internet

Ian Clarke of Freenet Intereview 127

abe1x writes "Ian Clarke of Freenet is interviewed at Feed by Christopher Locke of The Cluetrain Manifesto. Pretty interesting, can't wait for Freenet to actually function smoothly on a large scale."
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Ian Clarke of Freenet Intereview

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  • I wish someone would write a client that speaks both Freenet and Mojo Nation protocols...

    I'm sure someone will. It's a pretty obvious and useful thing to do. Another neat thing to do would be to make Freenet search systems available on Mojo Nation. The search broker would accumulate a reputation from its response time and people's ratings, and people's block clients could use that (plus anything else) as a measure of trust, and as also a measure of how much Mojo they'd pay to use it.

    I don't think Mojo Nation is really set up to deal with things like that, but it might be easy to hack it into a content tracker and a quartet of a block servers. (Tracker gets request for "search?Metallica", generates a response, hands the response to the quartet of local block servers, and tells the client where to get the blocks.)

  • That said, I think the primary effect of FREENET, if it is successful, will not be the ability of minority ideas to evade censorship, but the de facto eradication of copyrights on digital media. (And that fact makes its success all that less probable, of course.)


    It will also have the ability to prevent a small minority from promoting censorship. A few wealthy individuals might not need to evade censorship but I appreciate how the sword cuts in the other direction ;-)

  • Actually, you missed the point. Unpopular information (= unrequested information) gets dropped from the REST of freenet. It dosn't mean that it's completely gone (since it's still present on the originating node) and it makes sure nobody can 'fill' freenet with random noise. Since nobody wants random noise, it dosn't last (outside your system.)

    Perhaps the comparason to a library is the problem. Freenet is a tool for current free speech. It's not a perfect archive.

    Consider a library system. The system contains everything ever published. (Theoretically) It has systems for archiving old periodicals and newspapers, and keeps them forever. Specific branches focus on keeping specific things. (perhaps each keeps copies of it's local newspapers and magazines)

    Popular, frequently requested books are found at multiple branches of the library. If a book has to circulate the system often, more branches will get the book.

    I think you can see the obvious analogy to freenet at this point. As long as you keep all copies of your publications on your node, it's never removed from freenet. It dosn't rule out the possibility of a node-loss resulting in the loss of unpopular information, in the same way a library fire may rob the world of the only copy of the 1852 NYT.

    --Dan

  • One of the biggest problems with freenet is the incredible redundancy of information. And I'm not talking local caches, I'm talking the same file being stored a billion times.

    Every MP3 of the same track is encoded slightly differently. Different rates, different filters, different noise on the ripper. Every recompressed jpeg is different.

    Yet all of these store the same information in the end.

    Look at gnutella. What's the single biggest problem on gnutella? "NO CARRIER". A lost download means someone is now sharing an incomplete file. Oops.

    Freenet's lowest layer is (content-hashed blocks of data) is immune to that, of course. But the blocks are small, much smaller then the files.

    So, how do I find out if a file really exists, really is what it claims to be on the search, and really is complete?

    Borrow a trick from the warez kiddies: Trusted sources.

    Digital signing of meta-directories, digital signing of votes, etc. Falls right into the web of trust you mentioned.

    Biggest problem with a WoT is web pollution. A large spamhaus will generate umpteen thousand keys, and create a web of them. If you touch the web, you've polluted yourself. With a system like PGP, where the web has a small TTL, it's not a big deal. With a system like freenet, your web is likely to go fairly deep. You also run into the problem of 'front' signers. Spammers who release good data using a 'front' and sign their spammer 'nyms from it.

    Also, per-reader voting dosn't stop bad data from residing in the network. Too many people will be tricked by it.

    --Dan

  • I'm not sure about this, but I assume that if he preferred not to go on record with that statement, the question would be stricken from the transcript of the interview.
  • ... is that I started reading this... and then it hit me. I could read it... without any problems. Oh my that is sad.

    ---
    Solaris/FreeBSD/Openstep/NeXTSTEP/Linux/ultrix/OSF /...
  • This was discussed in an ,a href="http://freshmeat.net/news/2000/07/29/9649295 99.html">editorial on Freshmeat a little while ago. The editorial has a couple problems, but on the whole it's pretty good. There are still a few kinks to work out (it's not always easyt o tell if information is accurate, and no one's going to want to vote on whether it is or take the time to reload to get the official page), but it's a step toward a workable scheme.
  • Sorry, I should have previewed. The above message should read:

    This was discussed in an editorial [freshmeat.net] on Freshmeat a little while ago. The editorial has a couple problems, but on the whole it's pretty good. There are still a few kinks to work out (it's not always easy to tell if information is accurate, and no one's going to want to vote on whether it is or take the time to reload to get the official page), but it's a step toward a workable scheme.

  • Hmm. Seems to me that the trademark you listed belongs to the folks that registered it. And if they don't want to enforce it, they don't have to.

    And somehow I doubt you speak for them.

  • No one is forcing anyone else to install a Freenet node on their computer.

    The argument I'm making isn't really about Freenet. My point is that the problems Freenet poses to democratic law are a dim spectre of the problems nano and genetics and other New Technologies will pose.

    Freenet is not self-replicating, but, like Gnutella, it is distributed. This gives is some sense of the slipperiness society will feel in managing the New Technologies.

    ..if it does reach sufficient popularity to make its use safe, then "Humanity" must have spoken on the subject.

    How do you make that leap?

    Just because a technology (Old or New) allows you to achieve power doesn't justify the power you've achieved with it. If I take over your house by home invasion with loaded handguns, it doesn't mean that I'm justified because I can be "safe" in doing so, in that no one can stop me.

  • If you think progress was decided in the past by democratic means instead of by the development of technology you are (at least partially) wrong.

    I don't think progress was decided in the past by democratic means.

    There are some who would stop the technology because they like the way the rules used to be. Even if they are the majority, they will fail in the end. They always have.

    I don't particulary have any affinity for the "rules" as they stand now. I do think Humanity deserves a chance to work out for itself what the rules should be, and not have them handed to us at technological gunpoint by an elite.

    You can call it fascism. I respectfully disagree and call it freedom.

    It, in this case, being the right of an individual to make his will universal law via technology? That doesn't resemble any kind of freedom I know.

  • The alternative is what? Stopping all innovation until we fully understand and accept its consequences?

    No, that's not the alternative.

    One aspect of the alternative is to democratize the corporations which produce the technology in the first place. Any organization creating something as dangerous to society as nanotech or genetic engineering needs the checks and balances of society as a whole, a society which includes those who don't purchase stock, but do have an interest in their ecological and political environments. Before you flame on, I'd like you to consider the problem yourself. What do you think should be done? Should anyone have the freedom to create and use any technology? I doubt you believe that.

    So someone has to decide what technologies can be used, and by whom. Who should that someone be? The amoral market?

    My vote so far is for more autonomy to be given to states, and in the long run, to smaller collections of people than that. Democracies are only virtuous when they're small. There's really not enough room to get into what I believe here, and to be honest, I'm still working out the flaws myself.

    But unlike some people, I recognize the problem. We are rapidly approaching the showdown at high noon between Technology and Humanity. Will we throw up our hands and surrender to the power of new, big technologies and the elite which control them, or will we find it within ourselves to find new ways to govern them, and preserve democratic rule?

    I hate to sound hyperbolic, but nothing less than the freedom of the human race depends on it.

    What would you do?

  • "It wouldn't spread if people didn't want it. That's as democratic as it gets."

    No, democracy is when individual people use their individual votes to create a consensus, and then create laws based on it.

    Subverting laws with technology -- like driving a truck filled with explosives into the Oklahoma City Federal Building -- isn't democracy. Just because a few people like you have the power to destroy a consensus you don't agree with doesn't justify your doing so.

    Unless you believe in fascism.
  • That address should read:

    mr_dan_zap@yaBOYDOIHATESPAMMERShoo.com

    Typos. Damn them.
  • In principle, I do think that. However, I also think that people should be held responsible for the results of their actions. I am free to use a piece of technology (say, a 2x4) but not in a way that harms others.

    Held responsible by whom? If we let technology develop uncontrolled, without constructing a much stronger political infrastructure around it, no entity will be able to enforce anything.

    Think Gnutella here. They were supposedly under the watchful eye of AOL, but AOL wasn't watching carefully enough. After Gnutella was released, the concept of who was responsible didn't even matter anymore. The genie was out.

    Apply this sort of scenario to a genetically modifed plant, or a malicious nanotech, and you have chilling consequences. Putting the people who created, unleashed, or utilized a particular New Technology in jail isn't going to remedy the problem.

    That's the bite of the New Technology.

    It's not like a toxic waste spill which you fine Exxon for and clean up. Because these new technologies are self-replicating, they can have effects which simply CAN'T be cleaned up.

    Take your nuclear bomb example.

    What if I create a new kind of bomb? This bomb has a 49% chance of setting the atmosphere on fire. I really don't think it'll happen. But it might.

    I haven't done anything wrong, and the bomb DOES have a 51% chance of just blowing up the hundred square miles I own.

    When you ask me not to do it, I tell you, "Hey, if my bomb really does set the entire atmosphere on fire, you can throw me in jail."

    Even though this situation is total fiction, something very much like it WILL happen in the future. At some point, if our political infrastructure continues the way it is now, a very small group will have control of an unimaginably powerful technology; a self-replicating technology that will make the a-bomb look like someone popping a brown paper bag. And they won't be inclined to use it responsibly.

    To stop, or least delay this for as long as possible, we need to create structures which only allow these kind of technologies to be developed with democratic approval, and both social and technical safeguards built into the process of development.

    Because if we ever have to enforce the malicious use of these kind of technologies, it will simply be too late. There may not be any of us left to do the enforcing.

  • "Things can get fucked up with a small elite, as well as with a whole country. Just because one billion people believe one thing, doesn't make it more correct. What a person with 300 IQ believes and wants, could also be just as wrong."

    I totally and completely agree.

    I wasn't suggesting we move towards a one-world-order run by a few eggheads. That secenario is only slightly less preferable than turning the world into chocolate cake.

    In much the same way as missile defense systems use technology to protect us from technology,
    I believe that technology can be used to implement a new kind of government that could protect us from the government. The big difference is that, instead of being hierarchical, like Napster, this new government would be distributed, like Gnutella. It would be a collection of protocols which... well, let me put up an earlier post from Slashdot:

    -------------

    You know, whenever anyone talks about the future myriad combinations of Internet and government, we always seem to get the most obvious, uninventive predictions. "File your taxes online! Vote online! Go to the DMV online!" Faster methods of doing things exactly the same way we do them right now.

    Isn't anyone else out there thinking that maybe this kind of technology has the ability to change the way we think of government itself?

    For instance, I wonder to myself sometimes if there isn't a new way to model the political boundaries of the world along the lines of the Internet. Here's a vision: A world where small individual node-states conduct commerce with each other by following universally agreed upon protocols, but remain largely autonomous internally. In much the same way as it doesn't matter whether or not you hook up a Mac, Wintel, or Linux box to the net as long as you send and recieve packets the way you're supposed to, couldn't we imagine a world where these little node-states allowed people the maximum amount of freedom to live the way they wanted as long as they followed agreed-upon procedures for routing goods and people through them?

    I imagine a patchwork quilt of different autonomous mini-states, like websites, each where the people living there determine their own rules. True freedom requires exactly this kind of diversity.

    As the world's population gets larger and more interconnected, it's crucial to note: Democracies become less virtuous as they become large, and any sufficiently large democracy is indistinguishible from tyranny. Don't believe me? All right, here's an analogy.

    Let's say we all want to go out to dinner. All 100 of us. 49 of us happen to be vegetarians.

    At Restaurant X, the procedure is simple. There's one big table, and one waitron. We all go, sit down, look at the menu and vote. Everyone eats what the majority decides. Unfortunately, 51% of us wanted the Filet Mignon (which we heard was quite good here). This leaves 49% of us without anything to eat. Democracy isn't always so tasty after all.

    But at Restaurant Y, they have 10 tables. You still have to vote at each table, and the majority still determines what everybody eats, but now we have 99% of our party happy: 5 tables of 10 meat-eaters, 4 tables of 10 vegetarians, and one table with 9 happy vegetarians and 1 meat-eater who doesn't get to eat what he wants. Maybe he'll ask if he can pull a chair up to the table behind him?

    Extrapolate this meat-and-veggie conflict to more contentious issues like abortion (or even IP laws) and it's easy to see how democracies are only virtuous when they're small.

    So how big is a node-state? I live in the U.S., and as a practical test-case, I'm going to say county-sized. I think the modern county has the approximate amount of people that the Founders based our ideal of democracy on. But in all honesty, I think science and technology could help determine what the proper size for a semi-autonomous unit of governance should be. It's not impossible to model, and the idea seems exciting to me.

    In any case, I find myself excited and curious: how can the technologies we have enable us to envision new ideas of government, in which we can all live freer lives? Any thoughts the ideas I've mentioned are appreciated, too.

    -------------

    There's more I could say here, but I think I'll just sum up for the moment by saying that this is the most virtuous form of government I can imagine.

    As far as protecting us from the New Technologies goes, I really think that this idea has a number of benefits to offer, not the least of which is that I believe the smallness of the node-state fosters a greater sense of stewardship over your corner of the world. I think part of the protocols that would regulate goods transport and economic transactions between node-states might involve a re-routing of economic transactions around you if your node is found to be polluting the network by inflicting externalities on other node-states. Sort of the equivalent of refusing to send or receive packets from a known spammer. In this case, though, the "spam" could be dumping waste in a river that flows south into your neighbors backyard, or growing genetically modified plants outdoors where the pollen can spread to the rest of the ecosystem.

    Yes, there's still difficulties, but like I said somewhere else, I think this is the World's Greatest Hack. Maybe the Greatest Hack In History. Geeks have done harder things than this. Why not turn their energy to preserving democracy and freedom for everyone?

    I'm working on setting up a site where interested folks can debate the idea, and start working out the kinks. One of the first things this style of government needs is a name. If you've got one, or you're just interested in pursuing these ideas further, e-mail me and I'll let you know when the site's up.

    -- Dan Zap!
    mr_dan_zap@yahBOYDOIHATESPAMMERShoo.com
  • Last time I checked, it was completely feasible to create and run a customized freenet server that had some documents that it refused to delete.
  • what about:

    "[Founding Father] one Not Particularly Thoughtful Kid, decides copyright is Good. Or at least that he's bored. He decides to create and unleash an ideology that promotes it. And it spreads. Suddenly the whole world begins to resemble what one person, or one small group of people, decided it should resemble. "

    Errrr ,,, where did copyright come from in the first place?

  • Now hold on for one second there, partner...

    How about the scenario "Jimmy hacks a virus bomb?" saying a nanobot can turn the world into chocolate cake is just as alarmist as worrying about ebola bombs. Not the fact that they aren't frightening, but simply that something like that is hard to deliver on a world-threatening scale.

    One can get into a discussion on the feasibility of pastry-manufacture nanotech (the power for the miraculous matter transmutation comes from where?), but the important part is that when you look at it, these dire warnings are just misunderstandings given form. All kinds of dire warnings have been issued regarding antrhax missiles and the like, but if you take a look at modern warfare, the pinnacle of destructive power is simple - a big, big bomb.

    While it's human nature to be afraid of something new, this kind of doomsaying defies logic.

    ---------
  • I mean, what if (and this is hypothetical! don't flame me for this part!) freenet ended up being used for ONLY passing peoples' credit card numbers around, becoming a major tool of international fraud and nothing else ? Then yes, we'd be better off stopping it!

    And if it did? This would perhaps be indicative of a flaw in the current credit card system, no? Perhaps leading to a new more secure system, not based off of a pirateable number?

    Technology begets technology. To halt a new development because it invalidates an older one is myopic.

    Instead of attacking everything new in sight, our dinosaurish corporate friends might want to invest in staying ahead of the curve. Not even ahead, neccesarily. But maybe, just maybe reevaluating a system every 30 years or so isn't a bad idea.

    ---------
  • For Freenet to be successful, it would need a wide body of users, just like Napster. If people really believed in the morality of copyright, they wouldn't use these systems to violate it.

    If millions of people DO use these systems to violate copyright, then it's no longer the actions or opinions of a single person that are changing the world. Ian Clarke is just the spark. We're the blaze.
  • The alternative is what? Stopping all innovation until we fully understand and accept its consequences? a) stopping all technological innovation is impossible, and b) fully understanding the consequences is impossible.
  • Should anyone have the freedom to create and use any technology?

    In principle, I do think that. However, I also think that people should be held responsible for the results of their actions. I am free to use a piece of technology (say, a 2x4) but not in a way that harms others.

    Regulation I feel is appropriate is: requiring research as to side effects of technology, and some moral evaluation of what exactly "harming" other people entails. That's going to be the tricky part.

    But as far as I'm concerned you're welcome to set off a nuclear explosion wherever you like, so long as you choose a spot at which there are no harmful "side effects" (eg, people irratiated, killed, wide-scale ecological damage). It's the character of the technolgoy that determines what kind of restriction that effects, however.
  • I don't particulary have any affinity for the "rules" as they stand now. I do think Humanity deserves a chance to work out for itself what the rules should be, and not have them handed to us at technological gunpoint by an elite.

    What are you proposing? We have some global poll and decide what "we" want as a species and then judiciously allow only the things that further that goal?

    It, in this case, being the right of an individual to make his will universal law via technology? That doesn't resemble any kind of freedom I know.

    Nobody's singlehandedly making their own will universal law. If the only person who agreed with the freenet author was the freenet author, it would not be a powerful notion. The reason he is able to "impose" his will on others is that many of those others also agree with him, and are willing to work towards the same goals.
  • Yeah, `technological progress.' What's so
    progressive about yet another application layer
    protocol, poorly designed and implemented?
    Privacy? Bullshit. It's anonimity, which is not
    the same. Moreof, it doesn't make the resources
    impossible to track. Just abit more complex.
    Now relax and go, do something. Read on ISO/OSI
    model, or watch Disney cartoon, whichever is more suitable
    to your intellectual level.
  • Hemos, didya lose your clue?
    How can run, save smoothly and on large scale,
    something developed by a guy who knows rat's
    ass about what primary key is and how to make it
    work in distributed environment?
    Well, prolly the problem is that Slashdot is
    running MySQL, and stupid things like PKs and DRI
    are not required? Even, are bad to karma?
  • I'm not so sure. Take the invention of the television, for example. From what I understand, it was essentially developed simultaneously in several places at once. After inventing the TV, If the guy here in the U.S. had said "Ooh. I better just forget about this TV thing. It's going to be the next opiate of the masses," we still would have had the television that was invented in Europe.

    I think invention tends indeed to happen in this sort of distributed way. Stone tools appeared on several continents at more or less the same time in societal development, even when the rates of development were quite different - see Guns, Germs, and Steel [barnesandnoble.com].

    I really do have to agree that "technology can't be stopped." To stop it would be to have a society, a world really, where every member has a common will or a common set of goals. Due to chaos or evolution or whatever, this has never been the case and never will be. Given that as a basis for action, we have little choice but to attempt to adapt as technology races on.

    If we were to "monitor" technology as it is invented, who is going to do the monitoring? The government? I think not. We wouldn't have a government for long. Industry? Which biotech company makes the final decision on whether to release the drug that cures AIDS?

    Even if some government/multinational wants to stop freenet, if the will of the people is for it to continue, it simply cannot be stopped. Technology is like a river. You can struggle and fight to swim upstream in order to stay in place or you can use your energy to navigate the rapids and the falls and stay afloat much longer. The Zen of technology navigation.
  • As you may or may not know, it's a Java app. It not only runs on various flavors of Windows and Linux, I believe some folks have it running on Macs, BeOS, etc.
  • IMO it shouldn't be out for public use yet. It's pre-Alpha-quality software. It's not that it's poorly designed, it's that right now it's very, very incomplete. No search feature (yet), no GUI (yet), protocol needs work....but I expect that once it hits its stride it will blow right by Gnutella. Alls we got to do is encrypt transmissions and it will be unstoppable :)

    Email me.
    Don't trust anyone over 90000.
  • How should the Gnutella protocol be modified, i.e. what is wrong with it now?

    Email me.
    Don't trust anyone over 90000.
  • They've already thought of this problem from what I've read on the site. There won't be a problem with people voting down information, because the only thing you can do is vote yes by downloading a file. Afterwards, if the file isn't what it says it is, you can take back your yes vote.
  • I'll quote you from your previous post:

    "My vote so far is for more autonomy to be given to states, and in the long run, to smaller collections of people than that. Democracies are only virtuous when they're small. There's really not enough room to get into what I believe here, and to be honest, I'm still working out the flaws myself."

    This is an interesting discussion. However I doubt you can have ANY guarantees in life. Things can get fucked up with a small elite, as well as with a whole country. Just because one billion people believe one thing, doesn't make it more correct. What a person with 300 IQ believes and wants, could also be just as wrong.

    You do have a point that irresponsible people should not have access to devastating technology. However, I believe education and helping people is better than leaving'em outside in the rain.

    I seriously doubt anyone in our society should have the authority you are seeking. It has been tried before, and we're currently moving AWAY from such power-structures.

    - Steeltoe
  • Warning! Wandering and sometimes slightly offtopic, stay with me to the end!

    Firstly,
    >There are some who would stop the technology because they like the way the rules used to be. Even if they are the majority, they will fail in the end. They always have.

    >You can call it fascism. I respectfully disagree nd call it freedom.

    Well said!

    > set up the mechanisms which insure democratic governance of Humanity by Humanity instead of Technology.

    Our society (USA) is not really democratic, and I am not talking about the representative aspect of it. I really am worried about the lack of concern for the rights of individuals by those in positions of power. I don't want to sound like Jon Katz here (although I know I will anyway) but the present arangement of electoral votes being all but decided by special interest groups (especially corporations) will inevitably destroy the rights of the average citizen.

    Governance by humanity is failing.

    Even, or more to the point especially, my father, sees his rights eroding. This is a man who is 78, and has seen a lot. He grew up in the great depression, fought in WWII, and raised children throuth the 50's, 60's, and 70's (yeah, there are 10 of us;_) ) and has seen the change. His position is that our elected representatives no longer look at the rights of citizens first and foremost.

    Governance by humanity is failing.

    The technologies developed developed in the middle part of the century served to enslave us by giving us controlled, censured, moderated information. TV and radio are controlled by those who want to control us. The internet could be the spark that will burn the whole rotten mess down. _Provided that it stays free_. The only way (until recently) to guarantee freedom on the internet was to mirror "unpopular" information on foreign hosts, but that approach is suspect. The US weilds too much influence to depend upon it.

    Freenet, by making information truly anonomous, distributed, and secure could prove a much superior approach. Of course it has its own technical hurdles to overcome, but it is a start.

    What this rant :-) is trying to get to is that technological change _can_ facillitate societal change. How society changes is up to us as individuals, which is the big caveat. I only hope that we (in the US) have not grown so lazy and fat that we refuse to make improvements when opportunity presents itself.

    "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance" *or something like that*


  • LOCKE: So let's start with the basics: When did Freenet get started? And how did you originally
    envision it?

    CLARKE: I started the Freenet project when I was at university as my fourth year project. I
    completed the design in, I think, July of 1999. Freenet is a system designed to allow the distribution of
    information on the Internet, in an efficient and anonymous manner. Much like a library -- a library
    where anyone can place books in the library, and anyone can borrow books from the library with
    complete anonymity.

    LOCKE: I was just looking at your FAQ on the site, and it's very complete as to background, and
    answering some of the dicier questions about criminals and pirates, and terrorism, and pornography, and
    copyright infringement. Maybe a good way to get into that is to ask you what your take is on the current
    Napster flap.

    CLARKE: Well, I mean, I think that it's unfortunate. I think that the RIAA is making a mistake trying to
    fight technology... There's a whole succession of technologies that the RIAA has tried to stifle -- and
    failed. And, in the longer run, it's been demonstrated that those technologies have actually benefited the
    recording industry. I think that will also be the case with digital distribution of media on the Internet.
    Although the Internet will probably start to challenge conventional ideas of copyright.

    LOCKE: On your FAQ you say threats to traditional publishing and recording industries have come
    from radio, the mimeograph, television, photocopier, magnetic tape, compact disc, video cassette
    recorder, et cetera. So what you're saying is that there's a long history of technologies of plagiarism, you
    might call them.

    CLARKE: Well, I think I would make a more general point than that. I think that you cannot try to
    prevent technological progress. What you must do is take a step back, and say, "How can we adapt to
    this new technology?" Because, you know, even if the RIAA succeeded in stifling a particular
    technology in America, they're going to have a very hard time stifling it in the rest of the world. And
    eventually it's going to creep back in. I think, generally speaking, any effort to try to prevent
    technological progress to preserve your existing business models is just short sighted, and doomed to
    failure.

    LOCKE: I recall a case when the U.S. federal government was fighting the export of 128-bit
    encryption. Some site called hushmail.com set up, I think it was in Barbados, and offered free 128-bit
    encrypted mail to anybody who wanted to sign up on the site. So they went offshore a few miles and just
    said, "Well, stop this." It's the old story of the Internet routing around obstacles. Let's talk about, for a
    second, the difference between Freenet and Napster. I mean, obviously, the courts are stepping in, and
    there's the potential of Napster being stopped by judicial decree, although I suppose that's questionable
    along many lines. But, how does Freenet differ from that exposure to a particular government saying,
    "You're not allowed to do this."

    CLARKE: Okay, let me start with the motivations of Freenet. Freenet was designed to permit free
    distribution of information, even under a government, which is intent on preventing that. Now because of
    that, Freenet has been specifically designed to withstand attack by a government, even to withstand
    attack by its own developers. So, really, Freenet has been specifically designed to be immune to any
    kind of judicial attack. Sure, they might try to sue me, for example -- I'm an individual, and I can be
    sued. But it would get them nowhere, because it would have no impact whatsoever upon Freenet.

    LOCKE: There's enough code out there now, that if all your equipment was confiscated, others would
    carry on the project. There's no one head to cut off, in other words.

    CLARKE: Even if they put me in jail, confiscated my hardware, Freenet would not miss a step. In fact,
    it would probably benefit Freenet, because ...

    LOCKE: Free PR.

    CLARKE: Freenet has been designed with this kind of situation in mind, from day one.

    LOCKE: You know, it strikes me that the real story is not the particular fate of Napster, but the overall
    dynamics that the Internet brings to bear on such issues: Here is a mechanism for distributing MP3s
    peer to peer, which is Napster today. And the business concerns try to stop that through whatever
    means available. Then what comes behind it is a much more robust response. In which case I'm talking
    about Freenet, which is potentially a hundred times scarier because you really can't do anything about it.

    CLARKE: Although I think it is important to stress that Freenet was not designed with the issue of
    copyright in mind. It was not designed to be the next Napster. It was actually a journalist who first said
    to me, "Hey, well couldn't you do the same thing as Napster, but better?" But in terms of the actual
    genesis of Freenet, I wasn't thinking about MP3s, I wasn't thinking about music, I was thinking about
    freedom of speech.

    LOCKE: Let me put your feet to the fire here, slightly. The first time we spoke you said very explicitly
    our mission here is to destroy copyright. Maybe you don't want to go on record with that, but that was
    pretty explicit, and I thought it was interesting.

    CLARKE: Okay. Let me clarify. I do think that copyright is a bad thing, but my initial motivation was
    not copyright. First, people started saying to me, "Hey, this could be used to distribute stuff without
    enforcing copyright." Then people started to say, "This can be used to distribute material without
    enforcing copyright, therefore, it shouldn't be allowed." And that put me in the situation where I had to
    justify what Freenet did. So yes, I did come to the conclusion that copyright was a bad thing, but that
    was not the initial motivation behind Freenet.

    LOCKE: It seems like the initial motivation was free speech: unbounded ability to publish.

    CLARKE: Yes.

    LOCKE: When we first talked, I said that I thought that this mechanism would largely appeal to
    contraband information.

    CLARKE: Sure.

    LOCKE: Whether it was whistle blowing by employees on companies dumping, you know, strontium
    90 into rivers, or the Solzhenitsyn and Pasternak kind of stuff coming out of the Soviet Union.

    CLARKE: Yes.

    LOCKE: Or terrorist information or child pornography. Maybe you could address that suite of concerns
    a little bit.

    CLARKE: Well, if there's one thing that I got from a computer science background it's that if you find
    yourself having to draw an arbitrary line between two things, you generally made a mistake earlier on.
    And you need to rethink things on a more fundamental level. And so applying that philosophy, I thought,
    well, why not permit everything, and then allow people to draw lines, for themselves.

    LOCKE: You had a much more pragmatic argument, too: You made the point about child pornography,
    that this is stuff people sell. They don't put it out there out of the goodness of their hearts. They can't sell
    it on Freenet, so it's not an attractive proposition. I have a question about version control, which is if you
    have an official document on a Web site -- a position statement or whatever it might be -- and it's a
    kind of living document that gets updated according to the latest thinking. Now there's two possibilities
    here. One is the revisionism that says, "Oh, we never said those things before, and the current version
    doesn't reflect that stuff." It's something as simple as the definitive FAQ. Alternatively, you can have all
    the versions, and you can go back and do the historical development of where did these ideas come
    from, which dropped out, which were added. With Freenet you can keep all those versions -- but it
    might be very hard to find the definitive current version of something.

    CLARKE: We're actually addressing that issue at this very moment. We're working on a mechanism
    that we call sub spaces, whereby you can actually reserve a subset of Freenet space of keys. So, you
    can basically kind of reserve an area of key space in which, for example, if you're publishing a daily
    magazine, you can publish each daily version. Yes, you're right, Freenet does kind of retain information.
    It is a kind of version control -- at any point you can go back to see what was written before. Provided
    it hasn't been dropped from the system due to unpopularity. But, in terms of finding the first, or the latest
    version, that's not actually that big a problem -- you can use an algorithm and find the latest one
    reasonably efficiently.

    LOCKE: We talked about the magnetism of contraband information. What do you see as the advantage
    Freenet has over the Web as it exists today for information that's not at the perceived risk of censorship,
    or of being somehow abridged by whatever kind of authorities. You know, if I were just publishing a
    humor zine, why would I want to put it on Freenet, as opposed to the Web? Or do you see them living
    parallel lives?

    CLARKE: At the beginning of the conversation you asked me what Freenet was designed to be, and I
    said it was designed to be an efficient means to distribute information. Freenet is actually much more
    efficient than the Web in the way it distributes information. With the Web, if a hundred people in Europe
    request the same document in America, that will travel under the Atlantic a hundred times. With
    Freenet it will only travel under once or twice. And then a copy will be stored locally in Europe, where it
    can be distributed to the other ninety-nine or ninety-eight people requesting it.

    LOCKE: So that's a caching capability.

    CLARKE: It is caching, but it's not. Because generally, with the cache, you've got the cache, and
    you've got the main repository. Whereas Freenet is ... everything is a cache.

    LOCKE: So it's a distributed caching...

    CLARKE: That's correct, yes.

    LOCKE: Right. Well, that speaks to sort of mechanical efficiency. But are there ramifications outside of
    that? I would guess, because you're counting frequency of requests, that you also get, almost as a side
    effect, a ranking of popularity. And that tells you something about what people are interested in.

    CLARKE: Well, in a way, yes: Unpopular information is dropped from the system. But there isn't really
    any way to conduct a census on the Freenet, like, there are fifteen copies of this and twenty copies of
    that.

    LOCKE: I'm very interested in mechanisms whereby people can hook up with communities of interest.
    And I see the potential here for a way to gauge the current levels of interest that would be fed back into
    a community of users, and would begin to constitute, let's say, communities in potentia.

    CLARKE: Yes.

    LOCKE: I mean, we see these waves across the Internet, these sort of memic waves that break out.
    Cluetrain was my Web site and book, and they both had some of that quality, certainly. But, to be able to
    see those early on, and find places that you can hook up with like minded people, that seems to be a
    dimension of Freenet that's very interesting. Are you pursuing anything along those lines?

    CLARKE: Well, yes, I mean, Freenet does actually self-organize and aggregate similar information
    together. And that similar information is not only in terms of it being physically similar information, but in
    terms of similar people being interested in the information. So it's a little bit like systems like Firefly, or
    Amazon, where Amazon will say that other people who like this book, also like these books.

    LOCKE: So, are you actually bringing some kind of collaborative filtering to bear here?

    CLARKE: Well, right now, we actually deliberately prevent Freenet from doing that. Or we kind of
    scrambled that mechanism. And the reason for that is so that you don't get, you know, all books about
    philosophy on a small number of machines, which could then be wiped out, due to a kind of localized
    failure. So we deliberately scramble that mechanism. However, we are working on a searching
    mechanism, which will actually exploit that.

    LOCKE: So you would aggregate the index to reflect categories and taxonomies.

    CLARKE: That's correct, although there wouldn't be any centralized index, as such. The search
    mechanism would be completely decentralized.

    LOCKE: But, virtually, you have a way to aggregate topical information by subject.

    CLARKE: Yes.

    LOCKE: So it's something more like Yahoo! than Altavista.

    CLARKE: Yes. That's exactly what it'll do. It'll be like a Yahoo! directory. But it'll actually figure out
    the categories for itself, rather than rely on anyone to tell it what the categories are.

    Share your thoughts on Freenet, copyright, and free speech, in the Loop.

    © FEED Inc. 2000

  • Actually, news capabilities already exist in Freenet do to a Freenet client for Unix/Linux named fnclient (which is written in Python). fnclient (which is admittedly somewhat slow) uses guessable enumerated keys to implement in-Freenet key indices and newsgroups. It is available from http://freenet.sourceforg e.net/contrib/fnclient-0.0.8.tgz [sourceforge.net]. fnclient also can request normal files on Freenet. Note that there is a top-level index at index and a top-level newsgroup index at news/index. These indices are meant to provide master lists of various stuff (news/index is meant to be the primary newsgroup index). Be patient when using indices and newsgroups with fnclient - it is quite slow due to inherent architectural limitations imposed by Freenet 0.2. Note that these will be much faster in the future when searchin appears (which will *not* be Freenet 0.3, or Freenet 0.4).
  • >>If you were trying to build a library, would you only stock periodicals?

    This is only a valid criticism for the current code. With data only purged when it falls off the stack, then implement more stacks. This IS free software. Unpopular information would then be dropped from more popular stacks to less popular stacks, say stored across tiers of servers or on tapes or WORM media instead of disks. True, the server would have to be able to say "I can get you what you asked for from the archive, but it will take a few hours" for which you could charge a few if you could work out the privacy details of anonymous payment. In college we called this mysterious service "Inter-Library Loan".

    From what I can see, the server should be allowed to customize what it does with its own stack, so long as it accurately advertises its collection of keys to clients and other servers and deliver up what they request.
  • If it's only one person, or one small group of people, then how does it spread? Obviously if the whole world begins to resemble Ian Clarke's vision, then he has succeeded in persuading people to adopt his vision. That's freedom, not fascism.
  • I look forward to more about freenet in the future. distributed applications are the future of computing, until alternate tech methods are developed. I enjoyed hearing from someone who may actually understand the mini-revolution that is occuring.
  • Freenet was not started to end copyright. Freenet was started to stop censorship. Ian Clarke is not Freenet. Ian Clarke thinks copyright is bad. Many people are attracted to the Freenet development lists because they think that's what Freenet is about and they think copyright is bad.

    But Freenet originally had nothing to do with copyright and for me, it still doesn't.

    Freenet makes censorship more difficult and it ends the need to know *where* something is and it helps fix the problem of overloading websites.

    This whole copyright thing is a product of the press attention that Napster has been getting. Music piracy has been around for a long time. We're attempting to do something much more interesting.
  • That unpopular information is dropped is one of the most common and most bizarre criticism of Freenet. You have to have a way to manage an endless supply of information and a finite amount of space. First recognize that popularity is local, not global. So the network won't be filled with Britney Spears MP3s like everyone seems to think. The area of the network which I form by connecting to my friends will more commonly have cool stuff that we as a group like than stuff which "the people" think is popular. But, if you don't like the throw out unpopular stuff strategy of resource usage regulation, you can check out freehaven.net (I give you a meg, you give me a meg, permanent storage based on trading) or mojonation.net (trading via virtual currency) or the ever popular Gnutella (I keep what I want, you keep what you want). You can choose amongst the available options whatever suits your tastes in resource management.
  • The actual problem here is with downloading untrusted information. That's what causes the problem with spam, the "Pat Boone" attack, and trojans. The solution to this is a trust system. We're working on a trust system based on digital signatures. It's all worked out, it's just a matter of implementing it along with all of the other hundreds of things we need to implement.
  • This isn't true at all. The time it takes to start downloading the file is the time it takes to contact the 5 or 10 servers and then get a response. So it's the cumulative latency between the servers, just like with TCP/IP, except that in our case it might take longer to find the file (you have to search the network for it). But the file start downloading immediately once it's found. And if anyone in your area has already requested it, then it will only be a few hops away. The clustering is not arbitrary. It is somewhat arbitrary. You tell your node what nodes to talk to. So if you only want to talk to nodes in Europe, you can configure it as such and the geographical clustering which Ian talks about will happen. If you want to only talk to nodes run by former Scientologists, you can do that too and then scientological clustering will occur. Or you can only talk to people you meet on alt.fan.jwz and then there will be clustering of pictures of jwz.
  • There is a hypertext distributed message board by Joe Soelbrig. There are also Freenet newsgroups that you can access via the fnclient Freenet client. I am also working on an NNTP gateway to the Freenet newsgroups so that you can read them in your favorite news reader.
  • What you are looking for is an Eternity service. The only implementation of this that I think has a chance is FreeHaven at freehaven.net.

    What would be particularly useful is a
    FreeHaven Freenet gateway. Permanent information storage and fast, unslashdottable access at once.
  • Your definition is most certainly not the definition being used in architectural whitepapers.

    The definition of popularity in Freenet is simply what's being requested and it's local, not global. When a file is requested, it gets bumped up in the list. When there is not enough room, something on the bottom is kicked off. It's more complicated than this to avoid abuses like flooding the system with a bunch of junk so as to knock every useful off. But that's the basic idea.

    But you are right that the obscure, unheard-of, and unknown gems will not last long.

    HOWEVER, cult phenomenons which only a small community like will proliferate in that small community, just not on the rest of the network. And so it should be! If there is ever a boom in the desire for such an obscure text, it will still live in the archives of this small community and instantly proliferate out onto the network.

    This doesn't solve all problems. (like I said, freehaven.net). But it's better than the web. It protects hot spots of interest. *Something* needs to protect hot spots of interest, after all. They are the most under attack. That which no one cares about or even knows about is an entirely different problem solved in an entirely different way. Join the two and you're doing pretty good.
  • It is a tool for the propagation of free speech! FREE SPEECH! It has nothing to do with violating copyright! AaRGH!

    Why do you need strong encryption to pirate MP3s? You don't even need anonymity! People have been doing it on IRC for years. Napster hasn't even been shut down yet.
  • Freenet wasn't designed to be a permenant datastore. Also, as more disk space is allocated to Freenet, it becomes less likely that things will drop out.

    The way Freenet works, there is a stack that represents all the information in a particular node. When a peice of info is requested, its put higher in the stack. If it gets to a certain point, its deleted. A big hard drive == bigger stack == less likely to drop out.

    In this way, only really unpopular stuff will drop out, like a twenty-year-old doc about Intel's new 8086 processor.


    ------

  • Have you registered the trademark in Ireland or at the EU trademark office? If not, I suspect you are SOL.
  • Freenet rocks.

    I wish someone would write a client that speaks both Freenet [sourceforge.net] and Mojo Nation [sourceforge.net] protocols...

    There should be "bridge nodes" that speak at least two protocols and that link the various distributed networks together.

  • but the people who are all fussing about how Freenet has competition for it's 'market' space are missing something entirely... It [afn.org] has [bfree.on.ca] competition [tfn.net] for [leon.fl.us] its [ohiou.edu] very [cleveland-freenet.org] choice [cam.net.uk] of [dgrc.crc.ca] name [scfn.net].

    And I hate to point this part out, too, but not only are we not nearly as controversial; we got there first. I'm pretty certain there's actually even a trademark on the name.

    [ looks ]

    Yep [uspto.gov]. 1986.

    And for the anal-retentives in the audience, yeah, I think a court would accept a dilution argument, given the close association of the problem spaces.

    Cheers,
    -- jra
    -----

  • Of course I have a choice about whether to install a freenet node. Thats not the question. The question is: Freenet, and other technologies, if used widely, have consequences even for those who do not use it, in that, for instance, copyright will become untenable. Is it therefore OK that those who introduce such things do so unhindered by social constraints ?

    Spouting naive egoism doesn't answer every (or possibly any) question. People don't live in hermetically sealed boxes, and therefore don't always get a choice when the "rules" start changing.
  • The problem with deleting via a key is that it's vulnerable to attack from a single source. Deleting old data is a distributed action and thus not vulnerable to an attack from a single source.
  • If Freenet is completely anonymous, then there won't be any real way to block spammers, is there?

    I suppose it could be made pseudonymous, like slashdot. If you want the +2 bonus you need to establish a reputation.

    Pseudonymous communication is possible in an otherwise anonymous network through digital signatures. For example, if all slashdot posts were Anonymous Coward, someone could come along and create a client-side thing to automatically GPG sign posts and verify GPG signatures, hilighting posts from known-good GPG keys.

    This sort of thing has been discussed on the cypherpunks sewer^H^H^H^H^Hmailing list for years.

  • What are you talking about? It runs fine on Windows 98!
  • Freenet appears to be quite a bold project. However it already faces competition from the most common distributed file sharing services:
    Napster
    Gnutella
    I think the major difference is in the organisation of information. Napster & Gnutella have a precise approach in that you are looking for something specific, whereas with Freenet you can browse by generic categories. Napster has some element of organisation where you can browse by genre then pick and choose a user to see what they have, but it's imprecise. A user in a Techno room could have Nirvana tracks, and it escapes the categorisation, however, if you search for Nirvana, you will find it easily.
    Now imagine if you were to think of a band you used to like, musically similar to Foo Fighters. You could browse Freenet looking in Media/Music/Alternative/Rock then finding a few songs by Nirvana and realizing that was the band you were looking for.
    OK, perhaps that isn't the best analogy to draw, but I think with Freenet you will be able to find a lot of information on a general category, as opposed to finding a specific piece of information.
  • This has always happened -- a group makes an advance in technology that offers them a chance to escape some of the restrictions that everyone has been tolerating, and decide they'll go for it. ...If you can climb to the new rung that's just been built on the ol' ladder, I would suggest you do so; those who don't are likely to get stepped on.

    So, Jimmy hacks a nanobot that turns everything into the world into chocolate cake. Jimmy likes chocolate cake!

    Jimmy's gonna let it go, too, because he says that "anyone who hasn't climbed up onto the new rung that's just been built on the ol' ladder" and built an anti-chocolate cake nanobot deserves to get "stepped on".

    Whee! Now the Mona Lisa, The Hoover Dam, and your house have all been turned into chocolate cake!

    This can't be what you want.

    The Bill Joy Point is that we have to stop thinking about technology as simply a liberating mechanism, and start reckoning with the unprecidented menace to freedom the New Technology offers. Freenet isn't even one of the New Technologies. But I think it's a premonition of them, and a good chance for us to ask ourselves the hard questions. What if there was a Jimmy with a chocolate cake nanobot? What should we be doing now to limit the kind of control of damage any one person can have through technology?

    This is the biggest hack out there, and it's one all true geeks should be interested in.

  • I'm not sure you really can, in a totally anonymous system you must allow everything or nothing because you can't filter it reliably.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • But you don't know who voted, this is a completely anonymous system, thats the point.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • But then that leaves open the opprotunity for an organized effort to vote out legitimate content, I say don't impliment the voting system, make people work harder to kill the system, I mean, which is harder? Simply wasting little bandwidth to vote down legitimate information, or wasting a lot uploading bogus stuff? Not to mention if you allow people to vote off legitimate information then you have the possibility of no legitimate information remaining, with the organized effort to insert bogus information you still have both legitimate and bogus, so that raises the chances of finding actual legitimate info, when you know this kind of abuse will go on.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • So far I fail to see how the local, not global distinction is going to save Freenet from a tyranny of mediocrity. I think it underestimates two quantities:
    • the number of requests there will be for porn vids and Britney Spears MP3s, and the number of directions those requests originate from, especially relative to requests for other material
    • the amount of relative space required per item for porn vids and Britney Spears MP3s, vs. that for fascinating treatises on the human condition.
    As a past (and somewhat present) Usenet administrator, I've seen this effect in action before, where I've had to mark down expiry times on binaries groups again and again, and where newer caching news servers still spend nearly all of their time keeping track of binaries groups because that's where the reader demand is. Freenet will take over this task itself and automate it completely, but that will make the effect even more pronounced because just as the designer notes, it can't tell the difference. It only judges on one dimension - demand.

    The system can be tweaked, certainly - large objects can be penalised for instance - but in the end I suspect we'll find that 90% of the demand and 99.9% of the storage requirement is for recordings of Ms. Spears music and pictures of her navel. Whether this is really a failing depends on your goals going in.

    That said, the only way to find out if it works is to try it, and (as has been noted) there are other models being developed that you can inject your great novel into as well. So bring it on. :)

  • CLARKE: I think that you cannot try to prevent technological progress. What you must do is take a step back, and say, "How can we adapt to this new technology?"

    I get so sick and tired of hearing this line again and again! Let's think about it. Technology is a human-driven enterprise. All biological metaphors are just that: metaphors. Except in the case of, oh, bacterial research, new and interesting inventions do not just pop into existence. Inventors think about what exists, and make new things to improve their lives. Or at least their pocketbooks.

    We all have a responsibility to examine those inventions -- all technology, really -- to monitor its effects and decide whether it's really a Good Thing. I mean, what if (and this is hypothetical! don't flame me for this part!) freenet ended up being used for ONLY passing peoples' credit card numbers around, becoming a major tool of international fraud and nothing else ? Then yes, we'd be better off stopping it!

    The attitude that "technology can't be stopped" is just irresponsible. If you start with that attitude, you back yourself into situations where a technology gets to the point that it can't be stopped. Self-fulfilling prophecy, that's all it is.

  • I was on the mailing list and worked a little bit on Freenet early on. I didn't witness as much ego as you describe. Maybe that's happened since I left.

    I think that what the Freenet developers are trying to accomplish is considerably more difficult that what Napster and/or Gnutella have done. We're talking distributed caching, anonymous uploading, encryption of stores (at least there was talk of such). They're certainly not insoluble, but they're not trivial, either.
  • I know Gnotella has spam filters for things like FlatPlanet, but there (seems to be nothing) from stopping someone from posting a useful looking file only to really be an advertisement.

    These documents will probably be unpopular, and will be eventually dropped off Freenet. Also, with a rise in Freenet's popularity I expect to see a corresponding rise in the use of cryptography. I know I plan to GnuPG sign most documents I put onto Freenet.

  • If you set it up right, each user can choose which voters to listen to. If someone I trust has voted the file down, I won't show up on my radar. If someone I don't know has voted the file down, I might get notified but the file will still show up.

    This "Web of Trust" is common among many cryptographic solutions.

  • The real flaw of Freenet, IMHO, isn't the potential for revisionism, it's the idea that only popular information is valuable. That might make sense in a market context, but it doesn't really have any place in an intellectual context if by "intellectual" you mean to imply a search for truth instead just popularity. Moreover, it is often the most revolutionary, cutting-edge, ahead-of-their-time ideas that are the most unpopular.
    It's not the idea that has to be popular, it's the actual document. By `popular' all is meant is in-demand. If people want to read something, then it will stay on the FREENET -- whether or not its ideas are popular or not. Take, for instance, that fellow who wrote the article falsely claiming BUGTRAQ listed more bugs for GNU/Linux than Windows, and fallaciously using this mis-fact to conclude that GNU/Linux is less secure. Among the slashdot crowd, that fellow was not popular in the sense you intend, nor were his ideas. But his article was popular -- that is, it was in demand.
    At one time, the ideas of democracy and freedom of speech were extremely unpopular ideas. In some places, they still are. Freenet-like systems would not have helped the rise of democracy very much.
    That's not true at all. While the ideas may not have been popular, obviously the documents extolling those ideas must have been in demand enough to get read.
    Mind you, it's great to see that popular ideas will be more resistant to government/corporate suppression, but they already were. It is ideas held by small minorities that are the most vulnerable.
    Minority opinions will have just as much exposure, as long as people are willing to read them. A solution to what I agree is the larger problem -- not the ability to speak freely, but the ability to be heard -- is not provided by FREENET. But it's not at all prevented, either.

    That said, I think the primary effect of FREENET, if it is successful, will not be the ability of minority ideas to evade censorship, but the de facto eradication of copyrights on digital media. (And that fact makes its success all that less probable, of course.)

  • Couldn't any motivated user could poll the FreeNet and build his/her own archive?

    Deja News would seem to be a useful analogy: USENET stuff hangs around for a while and then expires, but nothing stops motivated users, like Deja News, from archiving for later use.

    Whoever does the archiving becomes vulnerable to physical/legal attact, but that is the nature of any physical archive
  • It is true, dropping unpopular information is a problem if the definition of popularity comes from outside sources. Here's an excerpt of a paper I have written on this problem:

    1) Announcements

    In order to search for something, people have to know it. Right now, FreeNet only allows you to request a key you know, but even if you could search all FreeNet nodes, this would not help much.

    Because of this, FreeNet can only _extend_ other media, and not at all replace them. Because there are no broadcasts, and no standards of quality. (Don't be angered by this part of the sentence -- having standards of quality does not mean that you censor stuff, but it means that you make it possible to filter it on an individual basis.)

    Let's take a simple analogy: A baby that is born into this world sees and learns from various sources. It is constantly bombarded with information ("broadcasts"). Only on the basis of the outside information it receives, it can actually formulate and eventually ask questions about the world it lives in ("search/request").

    But let's stretch this analogy a bit. Imagine the baby grows up to a kid and he does not have a TV, he does not have many friends, he does not have high level education. The kid does however have Internet access, but it is only limited to FreeNet (once the final version of FreeNet has been released, the complete World Wide Web, Usenet, IRC etc. have been abandoned because they suck in comparison).

    Now what questions is the kid supposed to ask? What is he supposed to look for? How should he find out?

    Of course, the real life situation is much different. There are still TV & Co. and people will use FreeNet to find stuff they have heard about somewhere else. This is the Napster situation: They claim to promote new artists, but how should anyone find out about new artists if all that Napster allows is file searches (and chat)?

    As we know, the other places where people get their information on "what to search" are mostly non-anonymous, often highly centralized and can be censored easily. Imagine there are top secret documents that show the cooperation between the N*S*A and Micro$oft, and someone has managed to get a hold of them. Now he puts them on FreeNet, names the key /secret/nsams.txt and waits for people to leech them.

    But why should anyone search for them in the first place?

    Our current key servers are in fact a way of announcing new information put on FreeNet, but of course they are no real solution---for reasons everyone knows.

    So I think it is quite irrefutably true that we need a system of announcing new keys, and it must be a distributed and an anonymous one. Only if this is the case, FreeNet can indeed replace most common Internet applications.

    2) Ratings

    Before we talk about the technical realization of announcements, let us not forget another important issue. Let us assume the claimed relationship between No Such Agency and Redmond/WA is a fraud made up to denounce the great applications Uncle Steve & Uncle Bill produce. As true Microslaves, we want to let the world know. According to what I call "old thinking", we do this: We create a new announcement called "NEWS: Microsoft story a hoax! --- read here" and broadcast it.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. This is like the people on Gnutella who used the search monitor that displays incoming results to chat. This is like the virus warnings on Usenet that are automatically sent out by bots browsing the groups. It works, but it's not elegant. It's a workaround.

    I like Slashdot. [Slashdot explanation omitted] Basically, Slashdot has found a solution to a common problem, and that's one of the reasons for their huge success. When I see a story that interests me and I have little time, I set my threshold to "4 or 5" and browse. And I often find true gems in there without much searching. Sometimes good laughs, too.

    But of course Slashdot suffers from the same problems all websites have, it's censorable. Just recently Microsoft has demanded that Slashdot should censor (delete) comments of some visitors who talked about and linked to the Microsoft Kerberos specifications. Slashdot hasn't given in, but under certain circumstances, they have to, and they will. On the other hand, the Kerberos specifications have shown up on FreeNet just the same day. (The only reason I know this is because of the keyservers, which are, of course, censorable as well.)

    The rating problem is absolutely essential for the future of information exchange on the net. This sentence is so important that I repeat it here: The rating problem is absolutely essential for the future of information exchange on the net. But it is not necessary in the "old world", and as most people apply "old thinking" to the "new world", they often forget the importance of ratings.

    In the example above (not Kerberos, the Microsoft story) the "new thinking" solution would be to attach rating entries to the announcement. User 1 could say: "Score -1: Fraud", user 2 could say: "Score 0: Redundant", user 3 could say: "Score 2: Funny".

    Furthermore, one or more ratings could be attached to each rating, and to the rating of the rating.

    Of course, that alone doesn't do the trick. What if a religious zealot posts some crazy text on the coming apocalypse, and many religious zealots agree with him and rate it up, just by means of their large numbers (or even generate multiple ratings per user)? We need to be able to filter the ratings.

    We need nicknames.

    Don't scream. We really need them. They are truly anonymous. Without them, we're lost in the information jungle. But with them, we choose our guides, everyone by himself, and stick to them. We filter the announcements by the opinions of the people who mostly share our own opinion. Filtering doesn't necessarily mean hiding, it can also mean (like with killfiles) marking an announcement read, etc.

    The option must be given for both announcements and ratings, but it should only be mandatory for ratings. I have thought about giving the option of posting announcements completely without any UID, but that creates a LOT of problems. It's possible, however, to replace the nick with a random number/letter combination if this is desired by the user. (Reason: You may accidentally give away your nick name and thus reveal the identity behind all of your files, although not legally.)

    Once we have announcements with optional nicknames, and ratings with mandatory nicknames, all in a nested structure if desired, we can do all sorts of filtering of incoming broadcasts. We can

    • display only announcements from a list of known nicks
    • display only announcements that have ratings attached to them (these might trickle in later)
    • display only announcements with positive ratings from a certain author
    • display only announcements that have an overall positive score etc.
    • display all parentless children (ratings to which we don't have any parent announcements)

    [discussion of possible implementation omitted]

    5) Random thoughts

    Should FreeNet indeed allow users to express their opinion uncensored and share all kinds of information freely, and, at the same time, read and enjoy interesting information from other people without having to resort to other media to find out what IS interesting, it is a new evolutionary step in the history of mankind.

    This is no exaggeration. There are good books on how the masses can be controlled and influenced using corporate mass media, and AOL & M$ would surely like the Internet to work the same way. They would just love to track every move you make and to supply you with totally "customized" "information" (i.e. commercials, PR). They will kindly ask you for your feedback after every story they send you, and collect this data to improve their ability to influence YOU -- of course, all of this will be semi-automatic. [Tell you a secret: Most of this is already true to some degree anyway.]

    But with FreeNet it's totally different. There is no central authority, and people actually have to think by themselves. They have to build their own taste, and train their ability to express their thoughts. They have to make rational choices. Good ideas may have a chance to spread naturally. And there are no limits whatsoever to what you may think and express.

    I don't call it a revolution, because if all goes well, no blood will be spilt. But it is a new evolutionary step, from all the different mass media we had in the past to something new, something exciting, no longer "mass media" but rather "human media".

    Now let's be a bit crazy and think what would be possible if such a system existed. We could extend it to make anonymous, quick and easy micro- and macropayments possible! I have absolutely no clue how this could -- legally and technically -- work, because we somehow need to get the real money into the system. OTOH, we might create our own anonymous currency and try to convince others to accept it. Yeah, I know it's crazy. But I warned you.

    When this would be the case, all kinds of information exchange could be done on FreeNet. Two kinds of payment would be possible: One, the initial release of information after a certain amount has been paid in advance by many users, two, the voluntary payment for information already received.

    And I am absolutely sure that in the next decades, ever larger parts of our economy will be entirely based on information exchange. I don't want to speculate about nanotechnology or other future tech. here, but it is clear that increasing automatization changes our focus. We need to create viable concepts of making money from information without restraining its distribution. So how do we open the door to the new economy of ideas?

    FreeNet is the key. Let's forge it.

    (Note that I didn't know about MojoNation when I wrote this, which also sounds very interesting, and does want to implement a rating system.)

    --

  • Freenet is actually much more efficient than the Web in the way it distributes information. With the Web, if a hundred people in Europe request the same document in America, that will travel under the Atlantic a hundred times. With Freenet it will only travel under once or twice. And then a copy will be stored locally in Europe, where it can be distributed to the other ninety-nine or ninety-eight people requesting it.

    this would solve the slashdot effect for content access overload, because it could be cached all over.. So slightly offtopic, Has SlashDot ever considered caching, or mirroring sites they point to? At least the first page, until freenet takes over?

  • You don't have to store infinite information at any time -- you start with a finite amount, add finite amounts, and keep doing so until the human race no longer needs the system. There's no way to get an "infinite" value from finite inputs -- that's a basic mathematical truism.

    Assuming you meant dealing with a very large supply of information, there are any number of possible solutions. However, I think that most people aren't going to be willing to give up any more than a tiny fraction of their hard drive and communications in exchange for a guarantee of their rights. Most likely, you'll see a lot of folks giving Freenet a few hundred megs and using it primarily to find MP3's and porn which they'll then move to more permanent, local storage.

    The more "dangerous" or "subversive" content that finds its way out there will only stick around so long as its subject matter is popular. While this could be an interesting phenomenon to watch in and of itself, (like publishing a monthly count of the number of times various 'keyowrds' appear in a Freenet search each month) the end effect will still be far from perfect.

    I'm not saying that Freenet won't serve a valuable purpose until a better solution comes along. I just want to debunk the statements that I keep seeing that it will be a perfect and complete means of protecting the right to free expression.

  • No, my definition was indeed the same that was being used in the Freenet interview, and architectural whitepapers, and other discussion and arguments I have seen. I have just as much of a problem with destroying a document because no one has read it as I do with destroying it because people don't like it. I forsee the most "popular" works, be they controvercial novels or Top-40 singles, proliferating, at the expense of the obscure, unheard-of, and unknown gems that not enough people have stumbled across.

    Humanity is fickle and emotional, and as a group, we have very short attention spans and poor memories. The same tragedies occur time after time, and no one ever knows about it, because it's just one voice lost in the noise. Free speech won't do you a damn bit of good if no one can hear you over all the people shouting, and it will do you even less good if you only have a relatively short time to make your message heard, after which it might as well have never existed.

  • So, can you have a completely anonymous system in which there is still at least a semblence of accountability? Or, will any channel of communication which completely seperates data from the identity of its creator be overwhelmed with raw noise?
  • No one is forcing anyone else to install a Freenet node on their computer. In this case, an individual has simply shown people one possible option, and is letting them choose whether to join it or not. If Freenet never reaches critical mass, than those who run it are at risk of being branded and tracked down; if it does reach sufficient popularity to make its use safe, then "Humanity" must have spoken on the subject.

    If you don't want to accept the new "rules", then don't. If you don't ever log on to Freenet, then you've cast your vote against it. At least give others the freedom to cast their vote as they see fit.

  • You are choosing a dangerous argument here, for one simple reason: Freenet is not being designed, implemented, or supported by any corporation. It is a volunteer project, being built on the labors of those who believe in it, not those who wish to profit monetarily through it. I forgive you for sounding hyperbolic, because I, too hate the rising tide of corporatism and technolust that is eroding so much of our ability to remain truly individuals. However, I do not fear the loss of financial value of my creations nearly so much as I fear the control of those works being usurped by corporations who would profit from them. Intellectual property law, in its current incarnation, gives almost no power to the individual; anything that opposes a major corporation's interests can be demolished with lawsuits, intimidation, and FUD.

    If this old order has to be thrown into a temporary state of upheaval to return the power of free speech and choice to individuals. We cannot put the genie of technology back into the bottle, so we have to attempt to shape it in such a way as to insure the world remains as free as possible for us and our children. You, sir or madam, are a preservationist, which is noble, but unrealistic. Accept the fact that progress will continue, and start doing what you can to support its more benevolent forms.

  • The nature of physical archives has indeed meant that the owner or creator of that record becomes inherently vulnerable to persecution in any number of forms for its contents. However, what people are beginning to realize is that digital technology gives us the potential to change that irrevocably. However, Freenet, as much as it may hint at this possibility, does not make it a reality. In order to make an archive truly serve its purpose, its contents must be protected beyond the moment of their peak popularity, without sacrificing the anonymity of their holders and viewers.
  • Okay, I guess I don't make it up a rung -- the second-to-last sentence should have read: "...potential for constructive or dangerous applications..."
  • Although it's not quite as simple as that, I guess there must be hundreds of cases like this all around the world. Just because something is made into a law, doesn't mean its perfect or even fair.

    I understand that, but his answer makes it seem like he is against copyright only because people are taking offense to Freenet because it allows unauthorized copying. (Its this which has made Freenet so popular in the first place)

    Let's face it: laws are made by governments, not by the common people. Laws should be made in order to help / protect / take care of the people, but they usually are not.

    I believe in a lot of cases the government has overstepped it bounds... but you have to admit, 99.5% of laws are in place to "help / protect / take care of the people"

    Take the copyright laws, for instance. They were made in order to protect the creators of works of music, art, etc. but in reality they're used to protect the big corporations who make money out of them.

    Big Corporations who spend millions (mostly on peoples pay) shouldn't have the right to protect their creations?? Come on now....
  • And then, the RIAA/MPAA/anti-piracy-goons will be able to flood the system with anti-votes for copyrighted material.

    Surely a danger. But, as the old 60's song says, "they have the guns, but we've got the numbers ...". I think the RIAA would have its hands full fielding a large enough force to overcome the millions of people and millions of files involved. If I recall how Freenet works (anyone who wants to chime in here with better info, feel free), it boils down to a 'one-IP-one-vote' sort of system, so any attempt at an automated attack would require a Class A address segment for the RIAA to use (which I wouldn't put past them). And if they really tried this sort of attack, perhaps something like the MAPS 'blackhole list' could be used to thwart them. (Anyone else notice how this measure/countermeasure scenario starts to resemble actual warfare? Hmmm. Wonder what a surplus Nike missile sells for these days. :-)
  • One of the areas of vulnerability Freenet has (one which it shares with Gnutella) is that it's possible to post bogus stuff (like fake MP3s containing anti-piracy messages, for example) in an effort to pollute the stream, so to speak. Clarke has said that he wants to eventually implement an 'anti-vote' (my terminology - I've forgotten his term for it) so that users who discover one of these files can demote it and cause it to eventually disappear. I hope that he can get that mechanism working before Freenet gets too widely used. Otherwise, I'm afraid that an organized effort to gum it up will result in a lot of bogus files with high 'popularity', causing them to persist for quite a while.
  • I don't really see this as being such a prevalent problem with freenet, because it separates the ideas of search and storage.

    Freenet itself simply provides a framework to massively distribute files within a system that (theoretically) makes them fairly easy to access from anywhere and fairly difficult to delete from everywhere. The difference between it and gnutella is that a search mechanism is not central to propogating files. Files propogate simply by being sent across the peer-to-peer network. The filename, or freenet key, or whatever you want to call it is essentially just a capability [dnaco.net] for the file you want.

    Based on this structure, any number of directory services could be built on top of freenet to provide access to, and authenticate capabilities for files within the system. Freenet seems to be a reasonable model to do this, but there is no reason to necessarily tightly couple the search to it.

    Come to think about it, there could likely be many ways of searching for files on a system like freenet. There could be a peer-to-peer, gnutella-like search. Perhaps one with the ability for you to prioritize results comming from peers who you trust or have had good experience with in the past (this could get tricky with file propigation in freenet). There might also be a moderated search facility that provided capabilities that had been verified by someone already.

    The bottom line with this is that the RIAA or whoever you are afraid might get in the way of good, honest, information sharing might be able to completely bog down a system such as freenet by putting big files on it and requesting them from many disperse locations -- freenet is going to have an incredibly hard time coping with this sort of attack -- but they probably won't be able to interfere too severely with people finding what they are looking for, if it is in fact there.

    btw... I posted another note [slashdot.org] describing differences between freenet gnut and napster a while ago, but did a pretty horrible job with the formatting... there it is if you are more patient that I would likely be. :)

  • Perhaps, but the first person requesting the file has to wait while it downloads in its entirety between each successive server between them and wherever it is... this is how freenet is preserving anonymity.

    So they have issued the request for the file from the network to transfer their file across through five or ten different servers... The latency to do this, before they actually start seeing their little download progress bar move past 0% is the total number of hops times the time to download the file. So a file that takes three minutes to transfer at high speed, but is five hops away, is going to actually take 12 minutes to initiate while you wait for it to propogate to your peer and then three minutes to download. Granted, whoever asks for it next will be served very quickly.

    Except that the person who requested it in the first place got bored waiting, thought something was broken, disconnected, reconnected to completely diffetent peers, and is bogging the network down by initiating another request.

    ALSO, you can't make the geography assumption here... that a person on freenet in europe will request a file and have it more to be available to everyone in europe. The clustering is arbitrary because it is just a peer network built on IP addresses. One person requesting a file does result in propigation of that file across the net, but it does not necessarily do anything to move it closer to other people with similar interests, geography, or anything.

    but that might be an interesting way to optimize a peer network... users connect to users with similar interests. hmm.

  • Freenet works on Windows 98. I needed some help myself and found it at http://freenet.netunify.com/13 At its current stage this is the help you need. :)
  • Freenet appears to be quite a bold project. However it already faces competition from the most common distributed file sharing services:

    Napster [napster.com]
    Gnutella [wego.com]

    But Freenet has several unique features [sourceforge.net] that distinguish it from Napster and Gnutella. I especially like the fact that content can be uploaded anonymously which is great for banned intellectual assets like DeCSS [pzcommunications.com].
    Ultimatly, Freenet will probably be good for the internet if it takes off with success - the idea of unrestricted, free and anonymous content publishing will encourage Web diversity without the fear of lawsuits or just plan technical limitations.

    --
    Kiro

  • by flink ( 18449 ) on Thursday August 10, 2000 @03:18PM (#864197)
    I've been lurking on the development list since March, and I haven't noticed anything like that. The lead developers are just very adamant about preserving the integrity of the system, and they're not afraid to tell some one "no". I would rather wait a while and see something like this come out right the first time than have it get damaged by coming out ineffiecent and full of security holes.
  • by robl ( 53384 ) on Thursday August 10, 2000 @03:20PM (#864198)
    The freenet developers just can't decide what they want this tool to be. Is this a tool for violating copyright, or is it a tool for the real propagation of free speech?

    People have said many unpopular ideas, and written unpopular essays, that over time American citizens grew to accept. No, it didn't happen overnight, and it may have taken several decades for us to accept something as true. "Citizen Kane" was plagued with bad reviews when it first came out, and is now considered one of the best films of last century.

    I also find it interesting, that the developers believe in deleting documents that are unpopular, but won't let people who enter keys delete their own documents.
  • by Eloquence ( 144160 ) on Thursday August 10, 2000 @03:20PM (#864199)
    First, Gnutella doesn't develop at an impressive pace at all. There are many clients, but they are all still working with the 0.4 protocol, which is completely flawed (which is why Gnutella is unusable now).

    Napster? The development they are most concerned with is of a legal nature.

    There are two serious competitors: MojoNation [mojonation.net] and Blocks [kripto.org]. And they both have to deal with the problems FreeNet deals with now.

    The problems are far less trivial you think. On the one hand, you want information to be as dislocal as possible, on the other hand, you want to "localize" (search) the information on the network. An individual host has no idea which keys it is storing (at least in theory), it doesn't know their names (only their hashes) nor does it know the actual content (which is encrypted). So you can't simply say "Server X, tell me what you're storing".

    Which is why meta-networks may be necessary, distributed search engines similar to AltaVista, but of a distributed nature. Again a new challenge, perhaps not less complex than FreeNet iself.

    So don't trivialize. The FreeNet team is working very hard (just look at their development traffic), but they can't do wonders.

    --

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Thursday August 10, 2000 @12:54PM (#864200) Homepage Journal
    I appreciated the value of unrestricted resource and information sharing about 5 years ago, when arranging a simple trade of a couple sweatshirts across international boundaries.

    Some may think nothing of this, but since I have conducted far more commerce around the world via the internet. Upon examination I, and my trading partners, are probably violating any number of trade, tarriff, informational or customs restrictions for either end of the transaction. Multiply this by a few thousand people and governments will sit up and take notice. Iran is already struggling with the internet. No doubt if a student is reading this post the government knows about it, and has evaluated this post for Evil Western Influence(TM)

    A Free internet is vital, not just for my selfish purposes, but to bring down barriers, not erect them. I'm actually pretty thrilled, in a Berlin-Wall-Coming-Down way, when I think of how easy it has been to communicate and exchange around the world.

    Worry when the only way you can communicate is through commercial enterprises (AOL, YAHOO, MSN, etc.) which may fall under goverment regulation.

    Vote [dragonswest.com] Naked 2000
  • by Kiro ( 220724 ) on Thursday August 10, 2000 @12:49PM (#864201)
    Some fast download links if SourceForge is too slow:

    Windows client [infinit.net]
    Linux client [infinit.net]
    Source code [infinit.net]

    --
    Kiro

  • by Azog ( 20907 ) on Thursday August 10, 2000 @02:06PM (#864202) Homepage
    You are using a subtly different definition of "popular" than Ian Clarke is.

    Your definition of popular seems to be "stuff that people like and agree with".

    Ian Clarke's is "stuff that people download".

    Take an example: "Mein Kampf". That's an "unpopular" work, in the sense that few people agree with it. But it might be "popular" in that many people will download it.

    In fact, many of the people who download it probably disagree with it. Me, for instance. I know I disagree with Hitler's view on Jews, but I'm still interested in finding out exactly what he wrote, so I can decide why, exactly, I think he was wrong.


    Torrey Hoffman (Azog)
  • by Dan Crash ( 22904 ) on Thursday August 10, 2000 @12:59PM (#864203) Journal
    You know, I think this is a dim shadow of the point Bill Joy was making about the fundamental difference in kind between the Old Technology and the New.

    Ian Clarke, one Not Particularly Thoughtful Kid, decides copyright is bad. Or at least that he's bored. He decides to create and unleash a technology that subverts it. And it spreads. Suddenly the whole world begins to resemble what one person, or one small group of people, decided it should resemble.

    Take this analogy and apply it to nano, or genetics. This is the future. Or it could be. If so, welcome to the new fascism.

    The big challenge here is to respond to Freenet's antagonism of copyright in a way that lays the groundwork for responding to similar technological threats. To set up the mechanisms which insure democratic governance of Humanity by Humanity instead of Technology.

    Highfalutin' words, but these is highfalutin' times. I reckon.

  • by blanu ( 128654 ) on Thursday August 10, 2000 @03:45PM (#864204)
    It's interesting that you say that. I haven't seen any new features added to Napster or Gnutella since the first Freenet release. I'm not knocking Gnutella. It's a very cool project. I just don't understand where this idea of relative advancement is coming from when there aren't any new features being added.

    I think the reason that things are progressing so slowly is because what we're doing is REALLY HARD.

    Anonymous, efficient, non-abusable searching and updating is a problem no one has solved yet. I lot of people think they have solved in, in which case I invite them to the mailing list for some good intellectual jousting.
  • This has always happened -- a group makes an advance in technology that offers them a chance to escape some of the restrictions that everyone has been tolerating, and decide they'll go for it. Spoken language, literacy, radio, the Internet -- even consciousness itself -- were all means of changing the rules for you, and quite possibly taking everyone else along for the ride. The only thing that's changed is the pace.

    So, yes, there is a great potential for constructive of dangerous applications of any significant new technology. If you can climb to the new rung that's just been built on the ol' ladder, I would suggest you do so; those who don't are likely to get stepped on.

  • by scorbett ( 203664 ) on Thursday August 10, 2000 @01:52PM (#864206) Homepage
    From the freenet sourceforge FAQ:

    2.5. What prevents important documents from being discarded? Freenet is not intended to be an eternal archive. Because the system is completely democratic, it does not inherently distinguish between the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights and my kindergarten drawings - documents are scored solely by requests. It is anticipated, however, that the current low cost of storage will make enough storage available to Freenet that documents will only rarely have to be discarded.

    Dropping "unpopular information" from the system is not intended to be a form of censorship, merely a way to save disk space by eliminating seldom-requested or never-requested data. As the author indicates, as disk space gets cheaper and as more freenet servers come on line, the need to drop data will diminish.


    --

  • by Vuarnet ( 207505 ) <luis_milanNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Thursday August 10, 2000 @12:52PM (#864207) Homepage

    goosh.. you mean what I wrote can be used to break the law.. I didn't think of it like that.. Well, I guess that law sucks and shouldn't be a law then..
    Although it's not quite as simple as that, I guess there must be hundreds of cases like this all around the world. Just because something is made into a law, doesn't mean its perfect or even fair.

    Let's face it: laws are made by governments, not by the common people. Laws should be made in order to help / protect / take care of the people, but they usually are not.

    Take the copyright laws, for instance. They were made in order to protect the creators of works of music, art, etc. but in reality they're used to protect the big corporations who make money out of them.

    Just my 2 pesos worth...
  • by Tough Love ( 215404 ) on Thursday August 10, 2000 @01:11PM (#864208)
    Freenet appears to be quite a bold project. However it already faces competition from the most common distributed file sharing services: Napster Gnutella

    Yes, and Freenet development proceeds at a snail's pace compared to either of the above. I know why too: some of the early developers in the project are more interested in preserving their own exalted positions in the project that in letting the design/development process move forward effectively. There is more 'blocking' going on in the project than actual code development. I don't doubt it will eventually get where it's trying to go, but the question is: how many other projects with the same goals are going to get there first? I mean, come on, it's been months, and still no way to update information? Or search it? Give me a break, those problems are not insoluable.

    Ian is pretty cool, and especially, his philosphy is right on the money. His original paper [sourceforge.net] is a mighty good read. But it takes more than philosophy to build a killer software app. Please note, this isn't a troll or a flame, it's because I actually care about the project. Get your act together guys, bury the egos, and you'll have a worldbeater.
    --
  • by 1g$man ( 221286 ) on Thursday August 10, 2000 @01:11PM (#864209)
    Does Freenet have similar capabilities for spamming as Gnutella does? I know Gnotella has spam filters for things like FlatPlanet, but there (seems to be nothing) from stopping someone from posting a useful looking file only to really be an advertisement. If Freenet is completely anonymous, then there won't be any real way to block spammers, is there?
  • by Cardinal Biggles ( 6685 ) on Thursday August 10, 2000 @01:18PM (#864210)

    The big challenge here is to respond to Freenet's antagonism of copyright in a way that lays the groundwork for responding to similar technological threats. To set up the mechanisms which insure democratic governance of Humanity by Humanity instead of Technology.

    If you think progress was decided in the past by democratic means instead of by the development of technology you are (at least partially) wrong.

    There was never a government body that decided to start printing books. Someone just invented the printing press.

    Funnily enough, the closest thing to a technological revolution initiated by a government is the internet. And now that it's here, we start to find, for example, that we don't need copyright anymore.

    There are some who would stop the technology because they like the way the rules used to be. Even if they are the majority, they will fail in the end. They always have.

    You can call it fascism. I respectfully disagree and call it freedom.

  • by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Thursday August 10, 2000 @01:14PM (#864211)
    Unpopular information is dropped from the system.

    The real flaw of Freenet, IMHO, isn't the potential for revisionism, it's the idea that only popular information is valuable. That might make sense in a market context, but it doesn't really have any place in an intellectual context if by "intellectual" you mean to imply a search for truth instead just popularity. Moreover, it is often the most revolutionary, cutting-edge, ahead-of-their-time ideas that are the most unpopular.

    At one time, the ideas of democracy and freedom of speech were extremely unpopular ideas. In some places, they still are. Freenet-like systems would not have helped the rise of democracy very much. Mind you, it's great to see that popular ideas will be more resistant to government/corporate suppression, but they already were. It is ideas held by small minorities that are the most vulnerable.

    --
  • by baka_boy ( 171146 ) <lennon.day-reynolds@com> on Thursday August 10, 2000 @02:25PM (#864212) Homepage
    "Intellectual property" is the term for a creator's rights to a valuable idea, right? Show me a single company that is capable of thought, and therefore entitled to protection of its "intellectual property", and I will show you an employee who actually did the work, and no longer has the right to use their own ideas.
  • by baka_boy ( 171146 ) <lennon.day-reynolds@com> on Thursday August 10, 2000 @12:56PM (#864213) Homepage
    The most significant statement in that entire article was, "Unpopular information is dropped from the system." This reflects, in my eyes, dangerous assumption about what kind of data (or free speech) is valuable, and what isn't. The stated goal of Freenet is to allow unbounded free speech, yet it doesn't allow for a record or history of what has already been said. That is where the most dangerous power of censors and opressors lies: the ability to make us forget our own history, so that we can be manipulated in the same ways time and time again.

    Think of it this way: If you were trying to build a library, would you only stock periodicals? True, they are updated regularly, and are often a dense source of current information, but they are, by design, transient. Also, assuming you have finite space in which to store them, you will have to start throwing out the ones no one has checked out when the shelves are all full. Some of the old editions might cover popular events or figures, and would therefore stay popular and in cirulation, but the obscure or unknown stories of the past issues would be wiped away without a trace.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro..." -- Hunter S. Thompson

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