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P2P News Syndication? 266

Buggernut writes "According to an article at BBC, news may be the next major item to be passed around through P2P networks, thereby escaping the grasp of the censors' attempts to control the spread of forbidden information."
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P2P News Syndication?

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  • by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:56PM (#8821677)
    Remember the poster(s) not too long ago who would post the "complete article text in case of /.'ing" and then subtly replace/add words in the actual text? How'd you like to get your news that way, and not even know it?
  • by some2 ( 563218 ) * on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:57PM (#8821681)
    Naked News. Now showing on your local P2P network. :)
    • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @09:39PM (#8822223)
      I believe that's already on (cable and satellite) TV, is it not?

      Which raises the issue, what is censored now? Anything? I can already visit Al Jazeera [aljazeera.net] to see all the bloody babies and anti Bush views I might care to read.

      The barrier to individuals broadcasting news isn't censorship, it's credibility. The problem is, no one person's view constitutes "the news," even if they were there firsthand. Reporting news well requires access to the places and key figures, that's what news agencies offer.

      • Remember back a year ago when CNN and the rest refused to show "unhelpful" footage that Al Jazeera shot of the POW's in Iraq? Sure, the networks eventually showed it, but before that it was available on p2p (specifically, it was on one of the very first BitTorrent sites that I can't remember the name of... had a black background).


  • by Trespass ( 225077 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:58PM (#8821687) Homepage
    It's one thing to rip off musicians and publishers, but when this has some chance of actually being used for samizdat, you'll see it demonized and outlawed as a tool of terrorism.
  • by Gogl ( 125883 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:58PM (#8821691) Journal
    The problem is lack of attention. Censorship is a problem too, but there certainly are sources out there, albeit obscure ones, that cover all sorts of stuff that "mainstream" sources don't touch.

    The problem is lack of attention and publicity. Mainstream sources cover mainstream things because that's what the mainstream wants: it's what sells. While stories are sometimes neglected due to their being taboo, I'd say the main obstacle is lack of interest. The stories may be taboo at CNN, but they're probably being covered elsewhere. It's just the elsewhere (Indymedia, foreign sources, what-have-you) is unpopular: people aren't interested.

    A P2P news network might ironically solve that problem, though, as it would likely get a fair amount of press in and of itself.
    • The problem is lack of attention. Censorship is a problem too, but there certainly are sources out there, albeit obscure ones, that cover all sorts of stuff that "mainstream" sources don't touch.

      Even with a P2P news network, the problem will still be lack of attention.

      It's easy to get a bored young web surfer with a broadband connection to let his/her PC be a stopping point for popular music, 1337 warez, or hot pr0n. But what's the chance of getting said netizen to give up valuable MP3 space for the lat
    • by 1029 ( 571223 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:22PM (#8821852) Homepage Journal
      Not that I take CNN/NBC/CBS/etc.. as the Word of God, but...

      The day I take the likes of Indymedia to be an actual news site is the day I'll basing my opinions on the rants of the insane downtown homeless guy that sells magic wands.
    • Sometimes the problem IS censorship. Look at the story of Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, fired from Fox News for trying to get out an important investigative piece on bovine hormone technology from Monsanto.

      That being said, though, I agree that often the news is lost in the noise. I've wondered whether that's part of the reason for all the negative stories one sees on US news - pure distraction.
      • Sometimes the problem IS censorship. Look at the story of Jane Akre and Steve Wilson,

        I must have slept thru that one, can someone bring me up to speed?

        That said, the obvious bias occasionally shown, and the "don't cover that, its either verboten or so far off the beaten path its not worth the ink" thats so obvious from the big 6's network news operations. The big 6 being CBS,ABC,NBC,CNN,FOX and PBS.

        None of those organizations exist for *any* reason but to sell commercial time, with 4 to 6 commercials in
        • Yeah, Slashdot helps for sure. I also like to check out news sources from other countries - the Beeb comes to mind. 'Course, here in Canada we like to think our news is a little more unbiased, but I'm not sure how realistic that is!

          Re the Jane Akre / Steve Wilson thing, their website is here:


          Interesting reading. The hormone in question is banned in Canada and Europe. Cheers!
    • Yes, attention/interest is the key. I think P2P new would be a great idea, but to have even the most remote chance of success,
      1. Each story must be signed by at least one key.
      2, Each reporter must have his own key, with which he can sign and assign a "news-worthyness" and "trustworthyness" to his stories.
      3, There must be several organizations to keep track of and collect stories. Essentially, they will be the new breed of newspapers, whose job it will be to sift through and classify news. This will help
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...when I read about it on P2P.
  • Freenet (Score:5, Informative)

    by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @07:58PM (#8821695) Journal
    Isn't this the exact purpose of Freenet? It's simply more anonymous than your average P2P application to prevent people from being forced into self-censorship.
    • Re:Freenet (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mar1boro ( 189737 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:13PM (#8821785) Homepage
      Anonymity is not the key though. I personally don't want my news reporters
      to be anonymous. I want them to be accountable. A reputation tied to public keys
      is what we need. I suppose an anonymous news reporter could eventually
      build up a reputation as credible. That would be tough.
      (The public key thing was discussed above, but seemed pertinent here.)
      • Re:Freenet (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RPoet ( 20693 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:58PM (#8822037) Journal
        Critical reporting often mandates anonymity, especially in oppressive countries like Iran, China and Italy. I like to think that anonymous writers could post news and opinions online and build up a reputation and be heard, like Locke and Demosthenes in "Ender's Game".

        However, Freenet is not necessarily about anonymity. People could still post on Freenet using their full names and sign cryptographically. An equally important part of Freenet is censorship resistance. Once something has been posted, it cannot be taken offline as long as there is demand for the content. That's information availability, a cornerstone of democracy.
        • Re:Freenet (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Friday April 09, 2004 @09:37PM (#8822212)
          I like to think that anonymous writers could post news and opinions online and build up a reputation and be heard, like Locke and Demosthenes in "Ender's Game".

          Please recall that the two characters you mentioned were consummate liars whose only agenda was to gain power for themselves. An agenda they advanced, incidentally, by manipulating the masses by telling them what they wanted to hear.

          That's information availability, a cornerstone of democracy.

          The big challenge facing democracy in the 21st century is not the availability of information. If we've learned anything in the past fifty years, it's that information is like sand: it finds its way in through cracks and openings that were far too small to see, and fills your tent, your bunk, and your boots. The ubiquity of information is not the problem.

          The problem is thought. Have you ever heard the expression, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing?" It's true, it's true. To be partially informed and to think yourself wise is far, far worse than to be ignorant and to know it.

          When you figure out how to write a computer program that makes people aware of the limits of their knowledge, please let me know. That'd be something worth having.
      • Why not just use a pseudonym as the author of the news, and sign them as well. If the pseudonym is unique to that activity it's pretty anonymous, and with a public key, you know it's always the same person.
    • Yup (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:36PM (#8821926)
      There's even a news-over-freenet application. See JTCFrost [freshmeat.net].
    • It's also a real pain in the ass to setup and maintain with a dynamic IP and a firewall/router (ie, for 95% of users), requiring the user to search through text config files (even though it has preferences accessible through the gui, the most important setting is missing) to input the IP address and the use of dyndns or whatever since it only likes static IPs. I gave up fairly quickly, and I'd expect anyone else who doesn't have extensive sysadmin experience to do the same.

      The fact that it was dog slow (

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...Stephen King obituaries in this brave new world of news.
  • Remember... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by y2imm ( 700704 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:02PM (#8821712)
    Desert Storm 1. The CNN guys using IRC to get info past the Iraqis.
    • Re:Remember... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Heh. I remember quite well. At the time I was enlisted, in a very technical MOS (diagnosed/repaired communications equipment down to the component level). A lot of our gear wasn't all that advanced (some of it was Vietnam-era tech) but it was milspec certified and it worked -- most of the time anyway. But our old-ass tech was so far ahead of Iraq's that we could basically intercept all the communications and blindside them at any time of the day or night. Which we did. I don't think they even knew WTF I
  • Exactly how I want to get my news.

    Poor Quality

    or possibly even think I am getting news, I open it up and get:
    "Durty, S1uts with farm animals !!!"


  • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:04PM (#8821734) Homepage Journal
    The site is going a bit slow, so heres the Torrent [slashdot.org]
    • A lot of people on here build up their karma by reposting the article text. I have a different approach inspired by Office Space:

      Peter: No, you don't understand. So, everyday, Slashdot gets these anonymous posts with mod points that just go away. It's called aggregate. Samir and Michael and me wrote a program that drops those into an account we own.

      Joanna: So you're stealing.

      Peter: I don't think I'm explaining it right. You take a penny from a dish by the register right?

      Joanna: From the crippled
  • I don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Funkitup ( 260923 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:06PM (#8821743)
    The whole reason why news works is because people trust newspapers. I know it's stupid, but there are people out there that trust FOX!

    P2P news doesn't really seem to have that same trust value. Personally I am happy with the Guardian newspaper in the UK to generally get things right. It is their job to go out and read stories from around the world and present the facts to me in a way that I feel is relatively objective. I know they like (think it's their job) to screw the british government so I take that into account.

    I can't see how p2p would be any better. I would just get a massive influx of information that I don't have time to sift through. News syndicates not only do the sifting job for us, but they hopefully do it in a trustworthy fashion.
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Johnathon_Dough ( 719310 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:16PM (#8821809)
      You also get to know a news sources biases, as you mention the Guardian's out-to-get-it-ness for the Brit Govn't

      Once you have compared a couple of news sources, you learn pretty quick how they slant their story's. So, even if it isn't the whole story, you will at least have a general idea of what was omitted or skewed based on that source's leanings.

      If your news comes randomly from all over, you will never know the angle someone is pushing, nor ever the whole story.

      • On the other hand, there are people who believe that Fox news is fair and balanced. They still haven't figured out the (obvious) bias. Sure, the intelligent people of the world can see right through them, but most people aren't that bright. Getting news from lots of random sources is a good solution for that problem. Anyone who gets their news in such a fashion would tend to be forced to hear different, often incompatible opinions about the world in which we live, and would be forced to reconcile those
    • It is their job to go out and read stories from around the world and present the facts to me in a way that I feel is relatively objective.

      I think you make an excellent point about the reliability of the major news services; they do the job better than I ever could, and since there are so many eyes looking at them they're subject to to at least some review.

      I like the idea of P2P-style (which is to say decentralized) news sources, however, because on this side of the pond our mass-media outlets are becoming

  • I think this would work if one takes into account some already-implimented p2p features- mainly the ability to rate a file/thing for completeness or quality.

    If someone passes bogus news, they get a bad reputation. More importantly, if someone consistently passes 'good' news, they get a good reputation and lots of folks download their news.

    Like another poster suggested, news releases could be GPG-signed so that
    1. Known-good news sources could be identified, and
    2. Mean folks couldn't change the news the kno
  • Truth (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:12PM (#8821784) Homepage
    I would be worried about if what I was actually getting was the truth. /. covers some pretty obscure items, but 364 days out of the year I am pretty sure that the articles are mostly true. Add some common sense, and if its "too good to be true" it isn't, and I would say that most web-based trusted pages like this have the tendency to be true. If they werent, their reputation would get out that they are biased and unfair. Examples- Tomshardware, Intel biased, Foxnews, Warmongerers, ABC, Christians evangilism.

    With P2P you just have no clue what you are getting. It might be true, might not be. If you've seen the story before then you could be sure that it was true, but that would defeat the purpose of news- reading stories you haven't read before.

  • Slashdot? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:13PM (#8821786)
    You mean there is more news than slashdot?
  • "If there's material that everyone agrees is wicked, like child pornography, then it's possible to track it down and close it down. But if there's material that only one government says is wicked then, I'm sorry, but that's their tough luck."

    Oh, would it were so, Professor Anderson.

    There are quite a few of your human governments that don't have a problem with slavery and terrorism, let alone child pornography.
  • by sproketboy ( 608031 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:17PM (#8821825)
    Quote "This would require a high level of international agreement to be effective." We'll all be running around in ape suits chasing an (almost) naked Charlton Heston before this happens.
  • by Supp0rtLinux ( 594509 ) <Supp0rtLinux@yahoo.com> on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:19PM (#8821835)
    And while providing the average Joe with news that is much more gory than we see on a regular basis, it would also help to put an end to *altered* stories... the kind that've been mentioned on /. before where a story is written, then because of this complaint or that reason they edit the original. If the news is on P2P networks, we'll be able to always see the raw stories...

    The only thing necessary for Micro$oft to triumph is for a few good programmers to do nothing". North County Computers [nccomp.com]
  • Already exists (Score:5, Informative)

    by br00tus ( 528477 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:29PM (#8821886)
    There's already [indymedia.de] an Indymedia family p2p news-sharing site in existence. Indymedia sites are great for text articles and pictures, but pile audio interviews and videos on top of that and the bandwidth starts to pile up. Enter something like v2v, where the site shares the audio and video files on Bittorrent, Edonkey/Overnet, Gnutella and the like, this helps lessen the load on the servers, and I suppose helps prevents censorship as well.
  • :: Usenet III? :: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by argent ( 18001 ) <peter&slashdot,2006,taronga,com> on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:30PM (#8821890) Homepage Journal
    Usenet I already serves this purpose, and with MIME it can be just as rich a medium as the web. Just look at the porn-spam groups!

    Which does make me wonder how a medium even less controllable than Usenet would manage to avoid turning every group into spam. You'd need something like Google News to make sense of it... but, hold on, we already *have* Google News.
    • Clarinet, anyone?

      Or not....

    • It's a long way from anonymous. About the closest you might get is to sign up with a fake ID and stolen credit info and never connect without tunneling through a well trusted proxy - hardly a practical channel of "anonymity." The US gov has seen well to it no one is allowed to post these days without being well traceable.

      And so far as spamming a p2p service like freenet - well, there's that "demand" thing. So unless you are posting some high demand spam, it's doomed.

      • It's easy to post anonymously, just find someone infected by a dropper virus and post to Usenet through their trojan backdoor. As for spamming, people have already used targeted files on p2p networks to track downloads and infect computers, spamming is much easier than that.
  • Relevant Links (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:32PM (#8821903)
    The people at OpenPrivacy [openprivacy.org] have been working on tackling the problem of anonymous news syndication for years. The result of this effort is Reptile [openprivacy.org], which has both an anonymous RSS syndication system as well as a web-of-trust reputation framework. NewsMonster [newsmonster.org] is a similar application written by some of the same people that has a reputation system but lacks support for anonymous publication.

    Also, there's JTCFrost [freshmeat.net], a freenet client that supports NNTP-style news publication.
  • Freshness? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Doobeh ( 193083 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:37PM (#8821932) Homepage
    Wouldn't one of the greatest problems be that of signal to noise. If P2P is employed as a way to supress censorship, then we by that very mark, we are unaware of who published it (since we don't want the author being censored at a later date)

    Now spread this out to a wide implementation, what news is 'worthy' and 'trusted' to read if this very untraceable route holds true? I might as well read mind-numbing, ultra-biased blogs, because that is all the system would amount to.
    I go to the news outlets I currently do because I can to a high degree trust the articles, news without that trust is.. gossip.

    P2P for articles, especially news doesn't hold true, how is the article propogated? Will I have to wait 2 days for a fresh article to make its way around the Internet to me? If I want news, I'm used to getting information when I want it, P2P fails on this point.

    People think P2P is the cure to [insert internet downfall] because it works for MP3's. But MP3-P2P essentially runs off peoples greed, so there are mass copies of MP3's around, no-one cares if an Mp3 is four days, old, 3 years old, it makes not a difference, but hell, even MP3's are tainted, blanks, bad rips, misnamed, to assume this wouldn't follow on to any other P2P implementation is wishful thinking.

    Not to mention that only when an article gains a certain critical popularity mass would most people be able to find it on the system due to the inability to search every user without having a centralised database/hub (which could of course be.. you got it, censored!)

    • So maybe P2P gossip isn't such a bad thing... ;)

      I can't put any trust in anonymously posted news. So, you either put your name on it, and risk future censorship, or leave it unsigned, and risk being totally ignored. I think this is only going to be of any value if postings are signed.
    • I think the S/N ratio can be dealt with. I mean, we are doing it all of the time here on /., and there are other similar sites.

      The point is that you need to form a trust relationship with the people creating the news. People that are good sources for news can be trusted, and people simply showing up and trying to push a P.R. news piece are similarly discounted.

      The biggest problem with this sort of approach is that it is somewhat incompatable with technologies like Freenet, but even that is not totally i
  • by PetoskeyGuy ( 648788 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @08:46PM (#8821973)
    It's nice to have an alternative method of news, but I don't think you could believe anything sent in such a network. There is "NEWS" that people can run cars on water and aliens walk among us.

    "Consider the source" means a lot when your trying to decide if a news story is believable. P2P removes the credibility. News will bubble to the top based on how many people share it.

    P2P news will end up a worthless collection of lies and urban legends. Most of my family is already is part of such a network via email and no matter how many times I tell them otherwise they still spread the made up news stories, "HUGS" and prayers. I search out and refute almost every piece of crap my way, but no one sends that out 20 times to everyone they now.

    What news needs is peer review and feedback. P2P in it's current form doesn't offer anything like that. You would end up with worthless POP news that people bother to keep and share. News needs a reputation system.

    At least now I can see something comes from Fox News and know it's likely distorted, on P2P there is no trust at all.

  • Maybe not the same exact thing, but in concept this was covered a few weeks back when talking about RSS distributed via Torrent.
  • your true friend in internet life, it's penis enlargement kit
  • P2P Sockets project (Score:3, Interesting)

    by joelparker ( 586428 ) <joel@school.net> on Friday April 09, 2004 @09:21PM (#8822148) Homepage
    P2P can bypass censorship in numerous ways...
    the P2P Sockets project paper has interesting
    comments about this (it's a JXTA core project)

    P2PSockets Intro [codinginparadise.org]

    Cheers, Joel

  • by WhiteManInChina ( 473516 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @09:23PM (#8822159) Homepage
    I live in China, where everything from the BBC is blocked, so I can't even read the article...

  • Similar GPL project (Score:5, Informative)

    by +ve_flow ( 749684 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @09:51PM (#8822273)
    P2P delivery of moderated news is one of the visions of this project:


    Think of the moderated efficiency of communication provided by slashcode coupled with the decentralisation of a P2P network. With an open framework such that anyone may post on any topic without prior editor checking

    The project is in early stages and is functional for a group of any size.
    (hidden agenda disclosure: I am a developer on the project)
  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @09:58PM (#8822312) Journal
    I mean really, why have we let professionals think they've taken over the entire news business? Sure, they do a good job of many kinds of news reporting, and of collecting interesting stories, and they've become a really important part of modern society but fundamentally lots of news has always been more personalized, more subjective, and has had a much wider range of biases than The Official Sources. So they shouldn't be shocked that there's still amateur news distribution around. And that's much more true in the technology business, where so much of the commercial press does little better than reprint press releases.

    And yes, there's a level of quality that you can get from professionals, but don't think that "objectivity" means there isn't a lot of bias. I'm not talking about the US's "Liberal Media" that the right-wingers whine about - the actual media are radically biased towards the Establishment, and if you want to find some actual liberal media you need to listen to Pacifica Radio or read leftist web sites. National Public Radio is relatively liberal in its cultural content, except for an obvious bias in favor of music by Dead White Europeans, but if you look at its poilitical coverage, it's still basically believing that the government that funds it are a really good thing, even if there are occasional individuals it doesn't like.

    Oh, and back to the reliability of P2P-distributed news, did you hear that thing about Bush's trouble with Duct Tape?

  • by initialE ( 758110 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @10:03PM (#8822340)
    I can forsee several fundamental problems with spreading of news through P2P. First of all is the speed with which anything disseminates through P2P protocols. We're talking somewhere around a day or so for things to spread virally, not to mention the need to publish the presence of the latest news through the various announcement methods (trackers etc). Second, Google. P2P is not currently googlable. Third, the tendency is for us to accept whatever news is spread over the web without checking for details. If you know of anyone who still thinks that going on holiday to Bavaria/Thailand/Wherever is putting him in risk of getting his kidneys stolen and himself dumped in a tub of ice water somewhere, it's thanks to unverified mass mailing. Now imagine this being spread over P2P, leading either to a lot of people first falling for alot of false information, then distrusting whatever they hear (cry wolf syndrome) Finally, remember that P2P has enemies, namely the RIAA and MPAA (and their cronies worldwide). They'll believe, and rightly so, that anything that justifies the existence of P2P networks will weaken their ability to gestapo the net. Therefore I'd expect as much trouble from them as they can concieve up. Well, my 2 cents.
  • yes, yes, the technology is interesting and so forth, but to me p2p news doesn't look much like progress. look: 1. people get news from anyone who happens (or claims) to know slightly more than they do. news is decentralized, not to say anarchic. 2. paid messengers and town criers bring news to specific people or groups. news is partly centralized, and targeted. 3. the newspaper, radio, tv are invented and anyone can buy relatively cheap, reliable (as far as they know) information. news is centralized. 4. t
  • I'm sure I don't have to tell people here that China blocks webpages (like the Voice of America [voanews.com], blogger, etc.). So even though in the big cities the Chinese have killer broadband, it's not as useful as it could be.

    Anyway, when VOA, whose TV/radio signals are blocked/jammed on the mainland try to get the feeds out, they'll run broadcasts through other sites [freexinwen.com], and also make everything available via P2P networks.

    Whether you agree with VOA/the U.S. Government is another matter, but they're doing stories on th
  • We should just start swearing up and down that controlling content, administering copyrights, and stoping forbidden information and file sharing will be easy once a secure and private p2p infrastructure is in place.

    Then once it's in place, give em the finger. ....then again, it practically already is in place.

  • Great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LuYu ( 519260 ) on Saturday April 10, 2004 @02:02PM (#8825583) Homepage Journal

    Great! Now teenagers and old ladies can get sued by another content industry for sharing.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito