Dateline SF:

P2P - "Power2thePeople! Right on!"


Date: February 25, 2001


***********************************************
The First "O'Reilly Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Conference" was held
February 14-16, 2001, at the Westin St. Francis, San Francisco
***********************************************


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Dear Clients, Partners, Friends, and Future World-Changers:


Well, I've been to the mountaintop, my fellow peersters. I've had a semi-religious experience. And it was a *developer* conference! Can you believe it?

Okay, there weren't *only* developers there. I mean, I couldn't develop my way out of a wet paper bag--and I don't know why, but people take one look at me and know that, instinctively.

No, I was there only as a representative of the eclectic group of co-conspirators they allowed in: journalists, musicians, poets, VCs, and other assorted thieves and vagabonds...who, like, code mostly in English, dollar equivalents, and other micropayment mechanisms yet to be comprehended.

But we have huge respect for these guys that can actually talk in stuff like Java and C++ and Python and Perl and XML and SOAP. We know we need 'em--they make all this stuff work, don't they?

It's like my smart friend Randy says: we'll do html, we'll play with xml--he's even mastered Javascript and Flash (he's at "Flash Forward" in SF right now). But we draw a line--we raise our right hands and repeat: "We will not do Java." We know where our place is in this world--at the front end. I'm a word guy, he's a design guy.

So, it was with great anticipation--when this event popped up on my radar last November--that I saw an opportunity to take a walk on the wild side. And get a peek into how geeks actually start revolutions. [Gee, I made a rhyme--now I'm a poet, too... peeks, geeks (phreaks?), and vagabonds? How did I get into this Elton John thing? I'll try to hold off if I get an Eminem urge...]

And it was a huge, huge kick. Wouldn't have missed it for the world! For a while there, I was even thinking. "Yeah, I do believe I'm a developer. These guys *LIKE* me! I'm actually hip. I'm, I'm....a revolutionary!"

Then I attended one technical session and came to my senses. No, I'm here to chronicle this thing--not actually code a portion of the revolution. So, back to the business sessions it was for me. [Thank you, Tim O'Reilly, for making a place for us pretenders to the movement.]

Forthwith, my breathless story, based on the one I first filed to Conferenza.com ....to which my editor, the famed Gary Bolles, reacted by saying he should charge me a dollar for every exclamation point I used in my emails to him. I can't help it, man--I'm hooked! You had to *be* here!!! Power to the people!!! Right on!!!! Groovy!!!! Screw Hollywood!!! Napster rules!!!

The revolution, she is in full swing. Long live the revolution.


----------------------------------------------------------------------


Mega Energy, Passion, and Cool
Mark Semi-Official Kickoff
of Next-Big-Thing
Computing Movement


by Graeme Thickins
grt@gtamarketing.com


Key Points:

- P2P is a white-hot space. It may still be emerging, but with
an absolutely packed house of some 950 (200 of us press!),
there's no doubt the computing industry is hugely enamored
with the potential of this technology.
- Forget business models just yet. This is still the Wild West,
with a mob of scrappy early players launching companies that
sometimes seem little more than bold ideas -- all jockeying
for starting-gate position.
- It's generally seen as a consumer-centric technology, but
there'll be killer P2P apps for the enterprise, too -- some
of which are already well along. (Example: Groove Networks,
which just announced its 100th development partner.)
- Though it seems to have Next-Big-Thing momentum, P2P hasn't
been over-funded--yet, anyway. And that's a very good sign, said
one VC speaker. The excesses aren't there, as with previous hot
trends. Total investment is now a mere $350 million (but counting).
- Rest assured the big guys will be all over this movement, too.
Sun announced one new open-source P2P initiative--yes, another
"J" thing: "Jxta" (for "juxtapose"), as a sort of triumverate
with, or follow-on to, Java and Jini. More to come in April. And
Intel, Microsoft, and IBM were all well represented here, too.
- Several speakers noted that the event, the first major one
devoted exclusively to P2P, was THE place to be for developers
and entrepreneurs in the space. And few key players seemed to
have missed it. The feeling was that history was being made--
that attendees would look back on this one and say, "I was
there when P2P took off."
- There's a huge battle waging, which the Napster case is
just beginning to reveal. In an impassioned plea by Stanford
law professor Larry Lessig, and others, we learned that the
"Evil Empire" is not a company--Microsoft or otherwise. It's
Hollywood--specifically, Hollywood's lawyers--who'll do nothing
less than threaten the very innovation that makes the American
system work if they continue to get their way. [!!]
- The conference was well put on, with excellent, timely topics,
more than its share of great speakers, and much spirited discussion
and controversy. And it was all very well moderated, in large part
by Tim O'Reilly himself--an engaging and likeable character, who
seemed so very much at ease in his role...so comfortable and
fitted for it...and so refreshingly honest. He managed his main
job commendably: keeping the panel discussions lively and fair,
and the attendees' interests central in mind. [He, too, is one
of my new heroes.]


The Incredible Burden of Cool

With apologies to my friend Rich Karlgaard of Forbes--for borrowing from the title of one of my favorite columns of his--I use the above phrase in an attempt to try to capture the significance of this event. [In the spirit of Napster, I can think of no better guy to rip off than my favorite free markets hero, Rich... :-) ...who's no doubt reading this now himself. But then, I know he won't hire a Hollywood lawyer to sue me, because he owes me one. That's a "trust micropayment" thing going on there. See--I just coined that term, only to convince you I actually *get* this P2P thing!]

This conference was like no other I've ever experienced: "A seminal event," as one of the noted speakers exclaimed. World-changing stuff. You could cut the excitement with...well, a press badge.

What can you say about a gathering where thought leaders and heroes like Ray Ozzie, Bill Joy, Larry Lessig, John Perry Barlow, Dan Gillmor, Dave Winer, Clay Shirky, the Slash Dot guys, countless famed programmers and hackers, and even Napster creator Shawn Fanning himself are, like, just hanging around talking to each other? Nonchalantly discussing how the whole world of computing...and how we all work and communicate... will be changing dramatically in the near future.

It was one of the most intellectually powerful, most exciting, most colorful events I've ever attended. [And you all know how the hell *many* I attend!]


So What Is P2P? And Why Should We Care?

A definition of terms is logically a focus as a new technology genre takes shape. Though many speakers noted that the concepts of peer-to- peer computing and its close cousins, distributed computing and grid computing, have been around for as long as 15 or 20 years, the topic of what is and what is not P2P--in light of the Napster, Gnutella, et al phenomena of late--was frequently addressed by moderators and speakers. O'Reilly even published a little booklet that cited an array of its writings on the subject, to further help attendees get educated. [You should ask Tim for a copy: tim@oreilly.com...or maybe it's available somewhere on their web site.]

One keynoter and moderator, Clay Shirky, a partner at The Accelerator Group (and Tim O'Reilly sidekick), defined P2P as "One global computer-- not SunOne, not Microsoft.NET, nor any other corporate computer. It's too big, too important for one company."

Bob Young, cofounder and chairman of Linux powerhouse Red Hat Software, said, "P2P is all about giving the consumer control. And it mirrors our society--you have anonymity unless you want to give it up."

Ray Ozzie of Groove Networks (and former Lotus fame) pointed out that his new company grew out of his noticing that email was becoming *the* important phenomenon. "Self-forming groups were interacting at the edges of the organization," he said, noting that this phenomenon was fanned by the increased outsourcing companies were doing, with many independent contractors. "The user experience was P2P," he said. "So, in building Groove, our vision was to let humans do P2P. Message queuing is our model."

Ozzie also said: "The 'Net is broken. It doesn't work anymore as it was intended."

Johnny Deep of Aimster defined P2P as consumer-provided content-- "uncontrolled, unhindered, and trusted." His company was born out of the realization, in 1998, "that PCs can be servers--on everybody's desktop." Despite all the talk of copyright infringement, he thinks P2P distribution can make authors' revenue opportunities even greater.

Gene Kan, founder of startup InfraSearch, noted in the kickoff panel that "Centralized P2P architecture needs to be decentralized, if it's going to be a billion-computer world soon, as we're being told. And denial-of-service attacks and lawsuits are two big risks of central computers."

Greg Broiles, CEO of Turtledove, had some interesting insights: "What did we learn from Napster? That people really will install and use non-browser software. We don't need to get hung up on HTTP. The Web is not necessary for compelling applications. Individuals *will* allow outside use of their resources."

In the CTO panel, Nelson Minar of Popular Power described P2P as ultimately "apps that live on the network." And Andrew Chien of Entropia added the term "self-evolving software," noting that some interesting work is now going on in the amount of computation necessary to model the human brain. [It will require something in the neighborhood of one million CPUs, he said.]

Dick Hardt, founder of ActiveState, said P2P developers should "Look at how people use stuff--not just computer science problems."

Jonathan Hare of Consilient noted that, "With P2P, you don't have the burden of controlling. You set users free to decide what''s best for them--as eBay did."

Alexis Kopikis of WorldStreet also asked us "not to forget the people in P2P." Conference host Tim O'Reilly later noted that "some think the P stands for 'people', others say it's for 'programs'." [No matter--the term's here to stay.]


The Hottest of the Hot

By definition, in a new space with this much excitement around it, vitually anything hot was here. But the number of actual established (funded) companies can almost be counted on two hands. Larry Cheng of Battery Ventures gave us a fairly comprehensive overview of the P2P landscape in only about 20 minutes. His categories:

(1) distributed computing
(2) enterprise collaboration/knowledge management
(3) content distribution
(4) infrastructure
(5) file sharing
(6) distributed search
Of these, he thinks number 2 will be the most funded.

Cheng's list of top companies so far, by amount of dollars raised, was in this order, ranging from $60 million down to single-digit millions: Groove Networks, Entropia, Consilient, Napster ("probably not a good investment"), NextPage, OpenCola, United Devices, XDegrees, and InfraSearch.

Certain companies (even on the program) are still in stealth mode, so just weren't saying much. And surely a whole raft of new companies is yet lurking only in the collective gray matter of the developer and entrepreneur attendees at this event. [What I'd give to know all that--Capitalist pig that I am!] A hint of what's coming was provided by one moderator, who said a ventures guy from Intel (a conference sponsor) told him he's already heard pitches on 180 P2P companies-- or is that "ideas"?


I Could Have (Blank)ed All Night

Only a developer conference would begin on Valentine's Day. These guys may be cool, but they're too damn busy coding or reading SlashDot to have girlfriends. [There were very few female attendees.]

But more than a few of 'em surely wished they did have a honey after seeing the hotel's suggestive promotional lobby display, complete with flowers, candy, and (yes) an actual bed--serving to remind the Un-Valentined Legions every time they sauntered by that, hmmm, maybe there *is* something better to do at night than code their brains out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[A Little Break for Commentary: One overriding feeling I got from this event is that, even though some would characterize P2P devotees as bad guys--libertarian wackos, rebellious thieves, lawless hackers-- they aren't. Time and again, I found myself hearing that they basically believe people are good--i.e., that they can generally be trusted, and that innovations like this technology of theirs really can and will make the world a better place. Kinda like the Deadhead phenomenon all over again. While they're idealists, who really believe in the power of community, they are no less pragmatists--highly passionate about building cool technology, secure as hell (trust but verify? thank you, Ronald Reagan), and capable of making it happen damn fast when they want to. And do they ever want to--these smart guys *will* change the world. Over the next few years, it will be hugely fun--and very, very cool--to watch it all unfold.]



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Miscellaneous/Pithy Quotes from the P2P Conference:

"P2P is what the original creators of the 'Net had in mind--
an interactive medium, in which users give back."
-Ian Clarke, Founder, Freenet

"James Madison said in the Federalist Papers that the public
interest always coincides with the author's interests. One is
not greater than the other. People may say Aimster is a criminal.
But, if you look her in the eye, you'll see she's not."
-Johnny Deep, CEO, Aimster

"We don't want centralized directories of users--we're not
selling that to enterprises. Groups grow by inviting in other
people. It starts at the individual, not public directories.
The product should behave the way we behave."
-Ray Ozzie, Founder & CEO, Groove Networks

"Gnutella has some interesting relationships with enterprises,
because it plugs the pipe."
-Gene Kan, CEO, InfraSearch (and spokeperson for Gnutella)

"What are the deterrents to P2P in the enterprise? Anxiety
about the unknown is a big one. Power to the edge--the people--
is scary...Many companies have started 'locking down' desktops.
They're very afraid of mobile code."
-Ray Ozzie, Founder & CEO, Groove Networks

"Computing is becoming more distributed, and that creates
management problems."
-Erick Von Schweber, CTO, Cacheon

"Netscape made early progress with the enterprise. Pointcast
didn't, and got shut right out. Don't let that happen to you.
Embrace the enterprise at the beginning, not later on."
-Ray Ozzie, Founder & CEO, Groove Networks

"With Groove, we're entering the market with a different
value proposition (from Lotus) -- it's more B2B. Enterprises
are saying, 'Wow, you've solved our VPN problem!' "
-Ray Ozzie, Founder & CEO, Groove Networks

"How will enterprise networks be impacted if P2P gets
wide adoption? The server will be optional."
-Eric Schmidt, CEO, Novell

"In two years, most centralized systems wil be distributed,
and in the glass house."
-Erick Von Schweber, CTO, Cacheon

"UC-Berkeley pays our bandwidth bill, but is threatening
now to make us pay--which would be disastrous for us."
-Dave Anderson, Director of the SETI@home distributed
computing project at UC-Berkeley...SETI stands for
"Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence"
(he's also CTO of United Devices)

"P2P will result in the same kind of productivity gains
that the Web gave us. Alan Greenspan will be happy!
Wall Street will fall in love with it!"
-Jonathan Hare, CEO, Consilient

Advice for Developers:

"You must have empathy for those in the enterprise who'll
implement your system."
-Ray Ozzie, Founder & CEO, Groove Networks
(write this one down--Ray repeated it several times...
also see the link for the CNet interview of him, below)

"You need a consumer-centric strategy. I'm talking about
attracting tens of millions of them in months! ...P2P
is not new, but building *fast* is the thing now."
-Eric Schmidt, CEO, Novell

"When you're designing something, think of how its value
will grow with use....It is possible to build systems where
additional use and new users bring value to all--and P2P is
the key in many cases."
-Dan Bricklin, co-creator of Visicalc, writer,
and software designer

What Will Be the Most Pervasive Technology in 5 Years?

"Distibuted computing."
-Andrew Chien, Entropia, and Roy Ozzie, Groove Networks

"Email and the 'Net will still be ubiquitous."
-Jonathan Hare, CEO, Consilient

"Communication will rule. There'll be a mixed architecture
of centralized vs. decentralized computing. Email will still
be the killer app."
-Eric Schmidt, CEO, Novell

What Stocks Would You Buy Now?

"802.11B infrastructure is building fast. It's everywhere."
-Ray Ozzie, Founder & CEO, Groove Networks

"Instead of the Ghengis Khan, rule-the-world approach--
hey, why not 'Give peace a chance'?" [Translation: buy
the new P2P players, when you can?]
-Jonathan Hare, CEO, Consilient

"Buy the companies building out the end-to-end infrastructure."
-Eric Schmidt, CEO, Novell

"SRC Computer--they make the first reconfigurable hardware
capable of doing processing. Another play is FPG: field-
programmable processors."
-Erick Von Schweber, CTO, Cacheon

Will Enterprises Buy Piece Parts and
Build Their Own, or Buy Packaged Apps?

"The solution sale is the way to go. The tool-kit
approach is a big stretch now."
-Ray Ozzie, Founder & CEO, Groove Networks

What About PKI and P2P?

"I was on the bleeding edge of certificate control with
Lotus. With Groove, we've gone the opposite direction:
a 'peer trust' model. We recognize one another, and there
are no options to turn security on or off--it just works.
This model has a much better chance of taking off than
the PKI, controlled approach."
-Ray Ozzie, Founder & CEO, Groove Networks

And What of P2P in B2B?

"Keep an eye on UDDI. That's where a lot is happening...
And look at XDegrees--it's founder also founded AdForce,
a pretty good B2B service."
-Clay Shirky, Partner, The Accelerator Group

"There are many different layers of groups--peering
relationships--in which P2P will be useful."
-Dave Stutz, Software Architect - P2P & Distributed
Computing, Microsoft

"We're moving to an era of companies being able to
set up ad hoc groups."
-Tim O'Reilly, Founder & CEO, O'Reilly & Associates

"One purpose of corporations is to reduce transaction costs.
P2P can bring different parts of the transaction together,
and reduce costs."
-Ray Ozzie, Founder & CEO, Groove Networks

(In answer to the audience question, "Do you see the day
when disk drive space and processing power is a commodity
that people bid on?")
"There might be an exchange of services that pays for this."
-Dave Anderson, CTO, United Devices
(and director, SETI@home Project, UC-Berkeley)

"We're about Napsterizing B2B, so you can conduct any
business transaction and make markets with anyone, anywhere--
with no downloading of anything. It's unlimited reach: any
apps, any content, any people--enabling all the key ingredients
of functioning markets."
-Jonathan Hare, CEO, Consilient

What's the Business Model That Will Work?

"We're all sort of wild-eyed revolutionaries here! It's
much too early to know what business models will work."
-Clay Shirky, Partner, The Accelerator Group

"Think of all the related companies that will benefit
from P2P. Like the CD writer companies that benefitted
from Napster."
-Tim O'Reilly, Founder & CEO, O'Reilly & Associates

Is This All About the '60s?
What Are the Social Implications?

"With P2P, the intelligence is within the group--like an
ant colony. One example is Aimster's buddy lists. Others
define groups as whoever's using the system at any point.
The social implications might be, How does the network
treat the individual?"
-Clay Shirky, Partner, The Accelerator Group

And What of Instant Messaging?

"It will be embedded deeply, including with roaming devices,
like Blackberries. Knowledge workers want to work naturally."
-Ray Ozzie, Founder & CEO, Groove Networks

So What Other Apps Should We Look at Now?

"Here's one: web site testing. It's a tough thing--random load
testing. But there are companies now using P2P technology to
take advantage of computers that are not in use."
-Clay Shirky, Partner, The Accelerator Group

"A lot of things will just be common sense--not what
you may think of as 'apps'."
-Tim O'Reilly, Founder & CEO, O'Reilly & Associates

"There are lots of P2P apps out there--the Web, email, ICQ,
instant messaging, Napster, eBay, Linux...capitalism! All
distributed and decentralized, with a common set of protocols."
-Jonathan Hare, CEO, Consilient

"Check out 'AmIHotOrNot.com' -- submit your photo and get
rated! It's simple, operated by just two people, but it works and is
very popular--already up to 17 servers after only a few months."
-Dan Bricklin, co-creator of Visicalc, writer,
and software designer

"Our product, Sitelet, is a 'personalized process agent' that
supports true, ad hoc collaboration of any sort...We're not
replacing any technology. If you get the P2P model, you must
be totally open."
-Jonathan Hare, CEO, Consilient

And What of the Cultural Divisiveness of P2P?

"The Napster phenomenon shows a disenfranchisement of the
consumer with the provider--the music industry."
-Tim O'Reilly, Founder & CEO, O'Reilly & Associates

"Those who have the respect of their community, like Stephen
King, can put their content out there and say, if you don't
live up, I won't do it anymore....There'll be equilibrium."
-Tim O'Reilly, Founder & CEO, O'Reilly & Associates

"It's like the 70 mph speed limit--people rebelled. And the
difference between lawlessness and obeying was only 15 mph!
What's coming won't be general anarchy."
-Clay Shirky, Partner, The Accelerator Group

"Legislation and regulation is like pouring wet concrete
on things that need to move."
-Tim O'Reilly, Founder & CEO, O'Reilly & Associates

"No one argues Napster is not illegal (in strict legal terms).
But one definition of democracy is, if enough people do it,
it's not illegal."
-Clay Shirky, Partner, The Accelerator Group

"The technology is just a tool--some will use it illegally.
But there will be a million and one (legitimate) apps."
-Bob Young, Co-Founder & Chairman, Red Hat Software

"Just because some people download free songs does not mean
the whole system will implode. Napster, in fact, encourages
CD sales."
-Gene Kan, CEO, InfraSearch (and spokeperson for Gnutella)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


What We Would've Liked Better With This Conference

The O'Reilly people did a commendable job with this event-- which had to have been their largest, most successful ever. At 950 attendees (they later published the figure 1036), it was far beyond their original expectations of "maybe 350 or 400," they told me, when they first conceived the event a few short months ago.

Though the program was well planned, and generally well moderated and conducted, there were some problems. Many attendees came to hear about business models--how P2P firms will make money--yet were disappointed, as the topic was continually passed off as somehow not appropriate yet to the discussion. Perhaps a reason for this was that there was not enough participation or attendance at the event by VCs and investors. [I was quite suprised early on that I wasn't seeing many more of their familiar faces.] Only two were on the program, both in bit roles--and neither was a big player. Perhaps it was because the industry is still so young--or was it because VCs are laying so low these days? [What are you afraid of, guys? Having to explain your bombs?]

I also heard more than one techie complain that the technical- track sessions were not detailed enough. [For the breakout session part of the conference, I mainly attended the business-track sessions--which were generally quite good, aside from the above-mentioned shortfall.]

Other complaints about the event that I would note: the press room was understaffed, with way too few dialup lines for the mob that showed up. Also, the whole affair was quite crowded-- the Westin St. Francis facilities were really stretched. But, then, the producer had no way of knowing just how many were going to swarm into the event at the last minute, either. Another point: though most all events of this quality provide an attendee list, this one didn't. So much for the community spirit and attendee collaboration afterwards! Wouldn't that be, like, one of those common-sense, killer P2P apps?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


*Even More* Pithy & Revolutionary Conference Quotes:

...THURSDAY (keynote): Bill Joy, Chief Scientist, Sun
Microsystems, "From Unix to Java to XML to Peer-to-Peer"...

"You are the people who will shape the future of computing."

"This kind of computing (P2P) is inevitable, and will be deployed
in the home, too. Pure optical switching enables peer-to-peer with
a stream of photons. We may not see it deployed for 10 years--
but, in that world, we'll need P2P technologies."

"I'm also here because I believe that most innovation occurs
in small groups--the size that fits around a lunch table. At Sun,
we encourage that kind of group."

"Unix, which started in 1969, had the same basic principles as
P2P--such as 'pipes' and processes for distributed computing.
These principles of Unix are now renewed in this world."

"We wanted to take these principles, put them around a common
core, and see if we could get them widely adopted. So, last year,
Mike Cleary and I started a new incubation, a research project,
in San Francisco. And we began talking to dozens of companies
in the space."

"We had one more "J" project in us. But it was tough to come
up with a name--you Scrabble players know that J is not a great
letter. And we had the Jini experience as a lesson--unfortunately,
that was a million-dollar mistake." [referring to a trademark
conflict]

"We looked at all the J words and came to this one: 'juxtapose.'
We thought that worked, because these systems can be temporary
associations of things...so, we settled on 'Jxta' -- you have
to misspell things for safety!"

"We've been working on the project now for 6-12 months, on an
early spec and some preliminary code...based around Java and
XML...it's kind of a Java/Jini/Jxta arc."

"We're looking to add more people to the group. I don't want
a standards body. It's an open-source model, for both license
and development, like Apache."

"I don't want to run it. Getting people to work together is
harder than writing code. It's like the old saying, management
would be easy if it weren't for the people."

"We're using the resources of Collab.net to put it together,
and we plan to do an online conference in April--email us at
Jxta@Sun.com for info on that."

"We're using a model that's been proven to work--Apache...
I'm real excited about Jxta--it's my incubation. I want to
see it succeed."

PANEL FOLLOWING, with Joy's JXTA Project team members:

"The Jxta layer must be simple, like writing a language.
Java and XML are finished, essentially. Most stuff should
now be done as innvative apps."
-Bill Joy

"We want to work together to create a market. How do we
go forward on this P2P paradigm? By working with everyone
in the room."
-Ingrid Van Den Hoogen, Business Development Manager,
The JXTA Project

(In answer to the question, "So, what does it actually do?")
"We have a few sets of primitives--ideas that are useful...
to pipe from one peer to another, the notion to group peers,
aggregating them in a logical, cohesive way, and the notion
of monitoring and metering what's going on out there...minimal
mechanisms that people can use--not a big, huge vertical stack."
-Mike Cleary, Business Manager, The JXTA Project

"Security, identity, and anonymity must be thought about up
front...Java, Jini, and Jxta are a trio of technologies, all
of which depend on security being done in the proper way."
-Bill Joy

"We want to do classes of groups, and permissions,
on a much more ad hoc basic than UDDI."
-Mike Cleary, Business Manager, The JXTA Project

(In answer to the question "How will you determine success?")
"Let the market determine, let it run for a while. We don't
want standards. Let interested people define it, and see
where it goes over time."
-Mike Cleary, Business Manager, The JXTA Project

"As far as Sun's goals with this, we have some particular
apps we'd like to build, with commercial value...We want the
Jxta platform to be simple...we don't want people having to
turn things off, like VB and Javascript....we're not trying
to do a huge thing like .NET...not a scale of complexity."
-Bill Joy

"Eventually, we should look like just another constituent,
not ruling the world."
-Mike Cleary, Business Manager, The JXTA Project

"We'll take a low-key approach this time."
-Bill Joy

------

...THURSDAY (panel): "The New Collaborative Journalism"...

Of all the individual sessions I observed (i.e., those other than the general or keynote sessions), this one was *by far* the best attended and most animated discussion--with the most audience reaction and questions. It featured moderator Katie Hafner, a reporter from the NY Times (see her January 18 story on "self-organizing web sites," linked below), and panelists (1) Dan Gillmor of the San Jose Mercury-News, (2) Dave Winer of Userland Software, and (3) the two creators and editors of famed hacker hangout SlashDot.org, Rob Malda and Jeff Bates.

"Using the Web for a 'write' medium as well as a 'read' one -- that's the interesting technical part for me....Journalism is turning into a conversation. It's making my job easier."
-Dan Gillmor, Technology Columnist, San Jose Mercury-News

"Journalism has gotten to be a lazy practice--they rarely challenge those they cover. There's a huge integrity issue...But there are many 'disempowered voices' out there that have a lot to say...I think writing without an editorial process is liberating--telling the unadulterated, unaltered truth...We saw a lot of this happening around the newspaper strikes in San Francisco and Seattle."
-Dave Winer, CEO, Userland Software

"Ours is now one of the largest systems out there where users are creating the content...Anyone can post, anonymously if they want...[those doing so are given the label "Anonymous Coward"]... We try to amplify as much signal as possible, and filter as much noise...Obviously, it's a very flawed system--there are people who'll piss in the public pool...I wouldn't go so far as to say it's P2P."
-Rob ("CmdrTaco") Malda, co-creator, SlashDot.org

"How do we pick our 15 stories a day? It's simple--if we like it! For example, Linux. We don't care about Microsoft!"
-Rob ("CmdrTaco") Malda, co-creator, SlashDot.org

"I wouldn't call myself a journalist -- a bunch of links is all we are. Some call us 'The Town Hall' -- I prefer 'The Village Pub'."
-Jeff ("Hemos") Bates, co-creator, SlashDot.org

"I shut down my discussion board, because I found I was deliberately avoiding posting things that would draw flames...A lot of these 20-year olds just want to fight."
-Dave Winer, CEO, Userland Software

"Moderation is useful...If I care about a topic, the 'collective voice' is more intelligent than me, or anyone for that matter."
-Dan Gillmor, Technology Columnist, San Jose Mercury-News

"You look at the comments and opinions of 10 to 15 people you respect."
-Rob ("CmdrTaco") Malda, co-creator, SlashDot.org

"It's the reputation of who you trust. But then, how do you find Joe Schmo, who's 15 and really smart?"
-Jeff ("Hemos") Bates, co-creator, SlashDot.org

"All the web logs should be able to work together intelligently."
-Rob ("CmdrTaco") Malda, co-creator, SlashDot.org

"The basic problem all of us in this room share is that we don't have enough time! ...I'll often do a search on SlashDot when I'm working on a story--read the threads, get the gist. I operate on the assumption that the people who read what I write know more than I do ... We're just at the start of all this. It'll work in any kind of journalism."
-Dan Gillmor, Technology Columnist, San Jose Mercury-News

"The narrower your niche, the more passionate you're likely to be ... At some point, a meta-system will emerge."
-Rob ("CmdrTaco") Malda, co-creator, SlashDot.org

"A user should be invited to every press conference. Why don't companies do that? Users don't have an ingrained point-of-view!"
-Dave Winer, CEO, Userland Software

"Everyone's tainted! The only way to get the real idea is to look at what, like, 40 people say."
-Rob ("CmdrTaco") Malda, co-creator, SlashDot.org

"Yeah, like who cares what a financial analyst thinks? He's just looking for his next interview with a CEO."
-Jeff ("Hemos") Bates, co-creator, SlashDot.org

Moderator question: So how does this make money?

"Ads. SlashDot pays for itself."
-Jeff ("Hemos") Bates, co-creator, SlashDot.org

"A lot of people are getting value from all this. But the tools aren't there yet...more is needed."
-Dan Gillmor, Technology Columnist, San Jose Mercury-News

Audience question: What happens when story submitters are just parroting what the PR-hype stories are saying?

"Then we call 'Shenanigans' on them! But we operate on the assumption there are more good people than bad... Moderation is essential."
-Rob ("CmdrTaco") Malda, co-creator, SlashDot.org

Audience question: People want the opinions of others, but don't they tolerate journalists just because they'd rather not talk to hundreds of others?

"Manufacturers (of news) are less important. And email isn't the answer, because it's not totally P2P--the problem being, the guy who everyone wants to talk to isn't responsive, because he's too busy. He has too many emails!"
-Dave Winer, CEO, Userland Software

"I don't know if there's a new model for journalism because of all this."
-Dan Gillmor, Technology Columnist, San Jose Mercury-News

Audience question: Why isn't collaborative filtering the answer to all this? And to the anonymity question?

"Computers don't solve everything! People make good judgements. People *want* that!"
-Dave Winer, CEO, Userland Software

Audience question: What about fact-checking -- all the disinformation out there? Even SlashDot has been taken in.

"The rules don't exist for this yet. But we don't worry too much about fact-checking--because, in minutes, there'll be hundreds of comments!" [to an erroneous post]
-Rob ("CmdrTaco") Malda, co-creator, SlashDot.org

"Making a mistake is not bad. ALL publications do it."
-Dave Winer, CEO, Userland Software

Audience question (from a European): Couldn't we combine all this with a micropayments system, to aid Third World countries?"

"Yes, but not me. I'm busy."
-Rob ("CmdrTaco") Malda, co-creator, SlashDot.org

Audience question: Readers trust the NY Times, the Merc-News, etc, vs. a SlashDot moderator--it's a social thing. But, at the technological level, we also trust the back end. What about the trust issue?

"Well, we all have to trust something. People themselves just have to be filters."
-Rob ("CmdrTaco") Malda, co-creator, SlashDot.org

"People don't get--shouldn't get--all their news from one source."
-Dave Winer, CEO, Userland Software

------

...FRIDAY (keynote): Larry Lessig, Stanford Law Professor, and author, "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace"...

"Legislation should not destroy this revolution! There's something extraordinary about this architecture."

"The architects of the Internet had no idea what this network would ultimately be used for. It was architected so their ignorance wouldn't stop it from developing. This principle is the *foundation* of what made the revolution possible!"

"The idea was decentralized control, to empower ordinary users--all of whom have different ideas about how the Internet will work."

"The issue for lawyers is how do we deal with the confrontation that's inevitable: What gets built?"

"Six years ago, the Supreme Court ruled to let it alone--let it work out, before we send in the lawyers. But, during the last three years, some Hollywood lawyers have began trying to regulate the Internet. And the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was Congress' response."

"Now, lawyers around the world are trying to protect existing powers--to enable them to *control* the Internet...Take the recent message that Hillary Rosen of the recording industry association had for VCs: 'Unless we approve, your ideas will not be permitted.' "

"When we learned the lesson of the Supreme Court six years ago, to leave the Internet alone, it didn't mean porn and other bad things were okay. It meant we didn't want to stall innovation!"

"The idea is not to give copyright creators perfect control. We need a system to incent them with sufficient creativity to create more."

"Government-backed monopolies should be limited--in duration and scope. Copyright law is one of those! The world of big publishers and creators has changed..."

"The fundamental question we have to ask is this: Is the scope of this regulation sensible? ... Did the framers intend this? It's a hard question, and will take a long time to work out. But that's for the policymakers to do."

"Should this Jack Valente/Hillary Rosen thing get perfect control? What's happening is just that--the courts have been used to validate their control....I'll tell you this: the idea that the courts are racing to protect Valente moreso than your kids should bother you!"

"The courts are trying to regulate too soon....and it's not just an issue for Napster, but for ANY new technology!"

"I'm not a big fan of him as an artist, but Orrin Hatch gets it! The question about large interests controlling the Internet..."

"The Constitution is to benefit artists, not controllers of copyrights. Hollywood is not the space to control artists-- the Internet is!"

"If we allow Hollywood's principle, then that will apply to any area of innovation. It won't allow those innovations to happen."

"The issue is not about copyright being evil. It's about how we balance this new set of interests with the extraordinary opportunity of the Internet."

"Let us build it first! Your power to do this is being questioned!"

[end of speech, followed by thunderous applause]

...PANEL FOLLOWING, featuring John Perry Barlow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (and former songwriter for the Grateful Dead); Dan Gillmor, technology columnist, San Jose Merc-News; and Clay Shirky, partner, The Accelerator Group...

"People want to see the debate for *old* reasons--left vs. right, Capitalism vs. something else. But it's not your father's debate! This is about innovation--the Internet has allowed a whole new level of it. We've learned something new. Orrin Hatch understands it, but most Liberal Democrats do not--because their get their money from Hollywood."
-Larry Lessig, Stanford Law Professor

"I still like money--don't misunderstand me. I don't want to stop people from that. But the old way of control doesn't work in the 'Economy of Ideas'!
-John Perry Barlow, Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation

"Originally, the Dead Heads thought the band was ripping them off. We didn't realize then that we were inventing viral marketing!"
-John Perry Barlow, Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation

"Keep the architecture open--let it develop! In fact, after the 9th District Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, ignore the law! Develop what you damn well please!"
-John Perry Barlow, Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Moderator comment: But there *is* property being violated...

"If you steal my horse, I can't ride. But, if you steal my song, I can still sing."
-John Perry Barlow, Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation

"We come down now on the side of *good*--not lawyers. Dead Heads never engaged in widespread copying and sale of tapes."
-John Perry Barlow, Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Moderator comment: We need to discover the morality of this...

"Hollywood has a lousy relationship with both its creators *and* its audience!"
-John Perry Barlow, Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation

"With this latest ruling, Hollywood is simply trying to preserve its monopoly power."
-Larry Lessig, Stanford Law Professor

"Why isn't the tech industry more aggressive? Well, the entertainment industry has a stranglehold on Washington DC... Congress has been bought and paid for by the content industry!"
-John Perry Barlow, Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation

"We're losing the idea war. The public seems to side with Hollywood."
-Larry Lessig, Stanford Law Professor

"Who'll make the expensive movies? Well, getting to that point will take a lot of work and experimentation. Maybe 10 years."
-Larry Lessig, Stanford Law Professor

"Here's a message to Hillary Rosen: CD sales are up 25% since MP3!"
-John Perry Barlow, Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation

"Instead of civil disobedience, let's just say 'Give us some room.' Like the simple 15-mph difference in changing the speed limit law to 70."
-Clay Shirky, partner, The Accelerator Group

"I've asked audiences of copyright lawyers, How many of you *do not* have any unauthorized software on your hard drives? Less than 10% ever say yes!"
-John Perry Barlow, Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation

"I want a regulatory impact statement before you roll out these regs--on the possible effects on innovation. Unless you perceive the regs will do good, roll them back!"
-Larry Lessig, Stanford Law Professor

Audience question: Is this a totally political argument-- not technologic?

"We need micropayment capability--reliable digital exchange."
-John Perry Barlow, Founder, Electronic Frontier Foundation

"The creator should set rights for his own work. This is at the heart of this issue."
-Tim O'Reilly, Founder & CEO, O'Reilly & Associates

"We're all looking for a new business model--anyone who publishes anything."
-Dan Gillmor, Technology Columnist, San Jose Mercury-News

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Selected Media Coverage In and Around the P2P Conference

February 13:

Policing Napster: Laws may clash with realities of technological limits
(CNET News.com)
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-201-4807510-0.html

Other Music Swapping Services
(AP via NY Times)
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/02/13/technology/13NAPSTER-AP.html
(requires registration)

February 14:

Napster Ruling Clouds P-to-P Forum
(TheStandard.com)
http://www.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,22224,00.html

P2P's Promise, and Peril
(San Jose Mercury-News - Dan Gillmor's weblog)
http://weblog.mercurycenter.com/ejournal/2001/02/14

Commentary: Record labels in denial about peer-to-peer
(Gartner Viewpoint, via CNET News.com)
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-201-4824189-0.html

Start-up shines light on Net's "dark matter"
(CNET News.com)
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1004-200-4821831.html

February 15:

Sun enlists peer-to-peer in war against Microsoft
(CNET News.com)
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1003-200-4836102.html

Peer-to-Peering Into the Future
(Wired News)
http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,41813,00.html

Commentary: The power of IM's "identity
(Gartner Viewpoint, via CNET News.com)
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1003-201-4837667-0.html

Microsoft readies "Hailstorm" against AOL
(CNET News.com)
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1003-201-4825884-0.html?tag=st.ne.ni.gartnercomm.ni

Studios ready projections to show movies on the 'Net
(Reuters via CNET News.com)
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-4829714.html

February 16:

Peering Into the Future
(TheStandard.com)
http://www.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,22286,00.html
....includes links to other articles, incl SJ Merc, SlashDot, Wired News, CNet

February 17:

The week in review: Napster's days are numbered
(CNET News.com)
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-4841126.html

February 19:

Internet 3.0
(Dave Winer's post about his P2P conference experience, in which
he discusses his take on the next version of the 'Net)
http://davenet.userland.com/2001/02/19/internet30

February 21:

Taking P2P to Corporate America
(CNET News.com)
...an interview with Ray Ozzie of Groove Networks
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1014-201-4880236-0.html?tag=tp_pr

Napster model could make ISPs subsidize record labels
(CNET News.com)
http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-4890649.html?tag=tp_pr

February 22:

The art that comes from competition
(another Dave Winer post-P2P Conference post)
http://davenet.userland.com/

February 23:

B2P: A Matter of Utility
(Line56.com)
...including an interview with Rusty Braziel of Netrana
http://www.line56.com/articles/default.asp?NewsID=2203

----------

Some other stories of interest, appearing earlier:

Web Sites Begin to Get Organized, on Their Own
(New York Times, January 18, 2001)
http://www.gtamarketing.com/NYT-SelfOrganizingWebs.html
..."creatively borrowed" here, to save you from having to buy it (hey, I
paid the two-and-a-half bucks! now I'm just showing it to my friends--right?)

Research Says P2P Will Lead B2B
(Line56.com, January 23, 2001)
http://www.line56.com/articles/default.asp?NewsID=2049

Siemens Takes Peer-to-Peer Approach
(Line56.com, August 3, 2000)
http://www.line56.com/articles/default.asp?NewsID=1161

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

More Keywords & Phrases for the Aspiring Revolutionary

Some of the most commonly used and interesting terms I heard over the three days in San Francisco:

- Collaborative (anything)
- Communities (name your flavor)
- Self-organizing web sites
- Web logs
- Mobile code
- Web services
- Open anything!
- Peer trust
- Ad hoc groups
- Micropayments (of course)
- And a recurring favorite: email is still the killer app

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Companies With the Elusive Buzz Factor

There were many interesting companies I heard about (or learned more about) at the P2P event....
but my votes for the ones to *especially* watch over the next few months would be these:

-Open Cola
-Groove Networks
-Consilient
-United Devices
-PopularPower
-InfraSearch
-XDegrees
-Open Design
-Netrana (for the B2B play--and get ready now for "B2P")
-Porivo (one of those distributed web site testing apps)

A couple more very intriguing stealth startups to keep an ear out for, both based in the Bay Area, are these two:

-Know Now
-MojoNation

Scads more will undoubtedly be joining the party soon.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Whew!! A marathon of a report, huh, friends? My longest ever. I hope some/all/most was helpful or interesting. Feedback appreciated, as always. (Hey, that's what makes all this worthwhile...in a peer-to peer world, don't ya know.)

If I can answer any other questions--drawing from my 100+ pages of crammed notes from this mega-event--I'd be happy to do so. Yes, they're on real paper. I don't type right into my Powerbook at these conferences, which explains why it takes me a while to get my reports to you. But, then, I can capture so many more insights, so much faster and effectively, the old manual way than I can typing. And I don't disturb my neighbors. :-)

Meantime, I'll definitely be keeping up with this burgeoning new P2P space -- beyond the great contacts I've already made in it. So, look for more on this subject from me, and please let me know if can help provide you or your company with any insights.

(As always, if you'd like to subscribe or continue receiving my reports in the future, just just email me, say "yes," and include your contact info. And feel free to add any of your colleagues, or forward the report in its entirety to them.)

So long for now....

your ever-faithful, peer-to-peerin', power-to-the-peoplin',
vagabondish, and semi-revolutionary conference reporter,

|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||
Graeme Thickins, Founder/Editor/Analyst
GT&A Strategic Marketing Inc.
*Twin Cities *LA *SF *Anywhere
Voice: 952/944-1672
Fax: 952/944-1673
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See our other recent conference reports at our home page.

Or at this page: www.gtamarketing.com/NewsletterInfo.html

Also see some of our coverage posted periodically at:
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Watch for our upcoming conference reports on such events
as "South By Southwest" in Austin in March (it's music!
it's film! it's interactive!)....Spring Internet World in LA....
and The Industry Standard's major wireless event - "Roam" -
in Tucson in April....then, in late April, for a little diversion,
maybe even the Southern California Woodie Club's
annual car show at Doheny State Beach!

If you have suggestions about other tech events you'd like to
see covered, please let me know, would ya? Thanks.





(c) Copyright 2001, Graeme Thickins
and GT&A Strategic Marketing Inc.
All rights reserved, galaxy-wide.

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