When Written: May 2001
At first it seems strange to see a book on Peer-to –Peer net working in this day and age when one remembers cutting ones teeth on networking with Windows 3.11. In a ‘proper’ network environment you have users with machines connecting to servers, which is called client – server. The information is kept in one place, on the server, and all is nicely organised. System administrators prefer this type of layout; however with peer-to-peer networking any user can share their machines data with other users. Data can be stored and moved anywhere and a state of anarchy can rule.
It is against this background that a new generation of technologies are emerging from the Internet to re-use peer-to-peer networking in an attempt to solve one or more problems. The main problem that this technology tries to solve is that of control and censorship. If the data is held on a variety of machines located all over the world then it is almost impossible to censor it. One area that has taken to this with great enthusiasm is the distribution of music with such services as Napster, Gnutella and Freenet. It would be wrong to think that this technology is only of interest to those who wish to distribute copyrighted material. SETI, the organisation that is looking for evidence of extraterrestrial life but analysing deep space radio signals, also uses peer-to peer technologies as does the .NET initiative from Microsoft. So without doubt this is an interesting and growing area of computing.
The book consists of nineteen chapters with some twenty four contributors, all experts in their fields and as a consequence the 432 page book contains a wealth of information. The chapters are in general easy to read and the editor, Andy Oram should be congratulated on combining the input from all these contributors and producing a very readable book. It certainly is not a dry reference type of book, but rather one that can be read on a sunny afternoon whilst sipping a G&T (if we ever get any sun that is!). If you are interested in the future development of the Internet then this is a must read.
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/6
Article by: Mark Newton
Published in: Mark Newton