REVIEW - Peer-to-Peer - Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies



Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies


Andy Oram


O'Reilly (2001)




Francis Glassborow


April 2001



If you would like to know more about the current struggle to return the Internet back to its origins...then read this book

The sub-title of this book is Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies. At first I thought this was something about the way that the Internet and the Web disrupt our lives (too much reading of email, browsing the Web etc.) but fairly soon I realised that what the writers were writing about is the potential to disrupt the political and social status quo.

In the early days of what was to become the Internet and the Web, it was almost entirely composed of communication between individuals. Then things got complicated, we started to focus on things like web pages that were put up on large servers. We began to loose the sense of pioneering individualism. Commerce came along and wanted to find ways to make money, and to sell us things. Governments started to seek ways to control this burgeoning monster that sought to threaten their control. Privacy became hard to maintain (actually modern technology threatens privacy on many fronts, couple CCTV with good pattern recognition software and you rapidly find that you no longer have anonymity in a football crowd.)

Peer-to-peer is a term that is being applied to technological mechanisms being developed to re-establish rugged individualism. Things like Napster, Freenet and Gnutella are perceived as threatening by government and commerce just because they are attempts to return control to the individual.

If you would like to know more about the current struggle to return the Internet back to its origins where individual meets individual and it is no one else's concern, then read this book. The only sad thing is that I think the publishers are being greedy by pricing it at overĀ£21. There is no special printing overheads in publishing it, and O'Reilly has a long track record for keeping prices for books on technology under control. Even though this is a hard cover publication its price should be something aroundĀ£15.95. At that price I would encourage you to buy a copy, but at the published price, get your library to get a copy, or share the cost between several of you.

Come on O'Reilly, you can do better. Take the price down and I will edit out this criticism from the web copy of this review.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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