P2P is Bigger
Wednesday, September 13, 2000 by Dave Winer.
Today is a writing day for me, the kind of writing I hate to do and always put off.
I'm writing the Feature List page for Radio UserLand. I hate it because I don't think people really read feature lists, and I have to put on a kind of stiff voice, but that's not really how I write.
I took a break and read a News.Com story about P2P and how the VCs are losing interest. As usual the reporter and the VCs are missing something important, technologically.
Yes, Napster is a P2P product, largely because it puts both a client and server on the user's desktop. In the end when all this shakes out, that much will certainly be required of a P2P app. But I think there are other requirements. To be useful, it must also have an editor of some kind, an end-user editor, so people can easily share things they create.
I like to use an outliner, that's why Radio UserLand is built around an outliner. That's why it's good at doing weblogs, hierarchic Yahoo-like HTML directories, music playlists, scripts, pull-down menus. There are a lot of hierarchies on the Web, basically we've created a framework that makes it easy to map those hierarchies on the outliner, and we've provided a few plug-ins that implement some good ones. There's room for lots more.
But you could just as easily conceive a P2P product around a spreadsheet, then the interlinked documents would recalculate like a spreadsheet. I'd love to use a P2P spreadsheet, and with the right hooks, it wouldn't have to do all that Radio UserLand does, it could leverage off Radio UserLand through local interapplication hooks, through COM and Apple Events. It's now Y2K and machines run at 933 Mhz. We could start assuming the OS-level connections are fast.
Making P2P work is like picking up seeds cast on the forest floor. It's an easy architecture to build now that our knowledge of networking is mature and the machines have gotten so big and fast, and we haven't (yet) forgotten how to make graphic user interface software.
To think that all P2P software is Napster-like is to miss the point. I strongly believe (not a joke) that the P in P2P is people. Music is a great catalyst, it gets people talking, but it'll go a lot further than that.