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Ernest Miller Ernest Miller pursues research and writing on cyberlaw, intellectual property, and First Amendment issues. Mr. Miller attended the U.S. Naval Academy before attending Yale Law School, where he was president and co-founder of the Law and Technology Society, and founded the technology law and policy news site LawMeme. He is a fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Ernest Miller's blog postings can also be found @

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May 28, 2004

Every PC a Server

Posted by Ernest Miller

There is an interesting article in the Java Developer's Journal on what the killer app for JXTA might be ("Make Every PC a Server" - Is That JXTA's Killer App?). I'm not interested in the specific technology so much (JXTA is pretty cool, though) as I am interested in the proposed killer app - every PC a server. One of the problems with the current architecture of the internet, I believe, is that it relies too much on the client/server distinction. In our collaborative, creative future, we are interested in both publishing and consuming. It only makes sense that our home PCs will not only fetch content and resources but serve the same, some of which might not even be ours, but will be authorized for distribution. The server in the closet is not simply about sharing resources within the home network, but outside of it as well.

What this means simply is that, unlike client/server, JXTA is client/server and server/client or even server-to-server or client-to-client. The information, storage, processing, and communications can start at either end. In the world of applications this also means that I don't have to work in a world of centralized resources where there are multiple issues. The worst problem of course is just the impedance mismatch between the world of application and the world of Web applications.

Unfortunately, our current telecommunications regulatory structure, among other things, makes the possibility of true bi-directional communications from the home difficult to take full advantage of.

via Unmediated

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Tools


1. joe on May 29, 2004 07:00 PM writes...

People I know who've actually worked with JXTA feel that it is amazingly complicated and, at times, just plain broke... it will mature.

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2. cypherpunk on May 31, 2004 07:31 PM writes...

I suspect you're right that in the long run, people will have data to share and it will be convenient for them to run servers. But there are technical and economic factors involved. Is it most efficient for people to run servers from their homes? What is the demand for this ability, compared to the costs to supply it?

Today you can get web hosting for $10/month or less that is adequate for most people's needs and has some advantages over running a home server - professional management and fewer security risks, among others. In addition, these services are hooked up to big pipes which have been engineered to handle large uploads.

It may turn out that this is the most efficient way to design the system: optimize home and mobile users for downloads, and optimize a smaller number of shared servers for uploads. There's nothing wrong with this, if that is how things turn out.

I think there's a tendency to see this as a political or even a moal issue, as a matter of free speech, but that's a mistake. It's really all economics and technology. As more people desire to run servers, the pros and cons of running them from home vs a remote site will determine the best solution.

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3. Ernest Miller on June 1, 2004 12:35 PM writes...


I believe that your viewpoint is overly limited. If we've learned anything over the past few years of the cyberlaw debates it is that technology and economics have political ramifications and vice versa. Technological choices have real world free speech effects.

In any case, the economics of broadband are as determined by politics as anything else. The regulations we adopt determine what is economical and what is not.

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