From client/server technology to peer-to-peer
All of the technologies presented so far use a server to host the community resources.
An alternative approach to this is the formation of a peer-to-peer (P2P) network. In a
P2P network the participants make resources available to members of the community.
The term peer-to-peer means `equal-to-equal'.The members of such a community can
both provide or consume available resources.This method was popularised by Napster, a
utility created in 1999 in order to facilitate the sharing of MP3 music files.The idea was
to combine three key functionalities: direct file sharing (without a centralised server), a
search engine (which would search users' machines for MP3 files alone), and a standard
IRC client, allowing instant messages to be passed between MP3 users.
Participation in a P2P network is relatively simple; the utilities needed can be down-
loaded from the web and the shared folder accessible by remote users easily set up.The
simplicity of joining a P2P network when combined with highly popular content leads
to rapid growth of like-minded communities.Witness, for example, how fast Napster
The concept and technology, which was used to support the illegal
copying and distribution of copyrighted music can be used to support the sharing of
other information resources.
Since the Napster boom, numerous other similar utilities and Web sites have appeared,
many of which do not limit file sharing to just MP3s alone. File sharing networks such
as Gnutella and Kazaa
allow the sharing of a wide-range of digital object types from
movies, to images, to software. Sharing of resources need not be limited to the exchange
of files: CPU resources and services can also be offered to fellow community members.
Since the peer-to-peer approach can be applied to all devices in the network, it is neces-
sary to define how resources will be published and located. Publishing usually means sav-
ing data into a designated (shared) folder, while location involves the creation of directo-
ry mechanisms which can be consulted by users looking for a specific file or group of
files. Even these communities have rules to which participants must adhere if they are to
Collaborative Technologies and the Heritage Sector
Collaborative technologies provide the heritage sector with mechanisms to engage
distributed communities in their work and to provide them with focal points for discus-
sion and activity.The deployment of these technologies to create virtual communities has
so far been limited.The technologies can be employed to create communities of shared
resource development, online learning, collaborative exhibitions, and knowledge. eStage
285 This debate continues to rage over bulletin words and mailing lists across the world. Beginning September
2003, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) took legal action against individuals whom it
had evidence of downloading music illegally, among them a twelve year-old girl. See
http://188.8.131.52/content/6/32740.html and many other news pages for the full story. In the US music
shipments fell 26% between 1999 and 2002.
286 http://www.gnutella.com/; http://www.kazaa.com
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