Tag Archives: peer-to-peer

Peer-to-peer. The (past and) future of social.


Do you remember Morpheus?

How about Bitorrent?

Who can forget Napster?

Why am I asking about obscure software companies?

Peer-to-peer, that’s why.

These now mostly-defunct software companies were trail blazers, the precursors to modern-day social media networks.

What’s peer-to-peer?

Only the most important thing in the world, that’s what!

Wikipedia describes peer-to-peer networks as follows:

peer-to-peer (P2P) network is a type of decentralized and distributed network architecture in which individual nodes in the network (called “peers”) act as both suppliers and consumers of resources, in contrast to the centralized client–server model where client nodes request access to resources provided by central servers.

In a peer-to-peer network, tasks (such as searching for files or streaming audio/video) are shared amongst multiple interconnected peers who each make a portion of their resources (such as processing power, disk storage or network bandwidth) directly available to other network participants, without the need for centralized coordination by servers.[1]

When you think peer-to-peer, it probably conjures up images of networks of interconnected servers, passing digital files between them.

And you wouldn’t be far off.

The internet did start off as a collection of interconnected computers, sharing data, after all.

But I’m not talking about the hardware (or software) itself.

There’s more to social media than file sharing.

Don’t get it twisted.

Social media is about sharing.

Whether its a gif, photo, video, song or simply information, social media is THE way information gets disseminated online.

But that’s just one part of the equation.

The bigger issue are the peer networks – the underpinnings of social.

pure peer network

At its core, social media relies heavily on peer networks.

Nodes exerting influence on and over one another.

Without the cooperation necessary to allow one computer to access another, peer-to-peer networks would never have come to be.

Similarly, social networks work because of the inherent trust that exists between people.

Even if only loosely.

For the most part, being connected to someone (in a social media context) is like being vouched for in the Mafia.

You’re vetted by who you’re connected to.

The more connected you are, the more trusted you’re perceived as being.

Sure, social media is (somewhat of) a popularity contest.

But online, this popularity translates into trust.

Or credibility, rather.

I feel like I’m rambling.

There was a point to make in there somewhere…

Oh right!

Social has its origins in peer-to-peer networks.

Think about Facebook.

It was originally designed as a peer-to-peer network of Harvard students.

Now it’s a collection of numerous peer networks.

And all other social networks work in much the same way.

LinkedIn. Twitter. YouTube. Instagram. Pinterest. Google+.

As soon as you set up your account, what do you do?

Find and follow all your friends.

The folks most reach out to first are invariably people you already know.

Not to say that we don’t extend our virtual reach beyond the safe confines of people we know.

But when we do, there are usually less than six degrees of separation between us.

What was the point I was trying to make again?

Oh yeah…peer-to-peer networks are the underpinning of all modern day social networks.

If you’re interested in building a successful social network presence, focus first on your peers.

Those people closest to you, who you can rely upon to follow you, like your content and share.

Without a whole bunch of cajoling, bribery and/or sexual favors.

Once your peer network is in place, the sky’s the limit.

Or at least getting that next batch of friends/likes/followers won’t be quite as difficult.

Note: If this post comes of as rambling and incoherent, that’s because it is. But read it, re-read it, and re-read it again. It will eventually make sense.

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Filed under advocacy, digital advocacy, social media

Bitcoin. Currency for the real life Matrix.


Non-nerds be forewarned: I’m taking a deep dive into geekville.

I’m talking about Bitcoin, which, until this weekend, I had never heard of.

Mind you, I had heard rumors of a digital currency.

But I thought that they were talking micropayments, like buying coins in a Zynga game.

I never thought that there was an actual digital currency.

And people were using it for real life transactions.

So you can imagine my surprise Friday, when I read about Bitcoin in Techcrunch and realized that it was real.

Not only is digital currency real, Bitcoin transactions have eclipsed $1 billion.

That’s billion with a ‘B’.

Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency based on an open-source, peer-to-peer internet protocol.

It’s been likened to PayPal, in that it’s an alternative money transfer system, which enables you to place secure transactions online.

Payers and payees send transactions to and from their wallets or Bitcoin websites without any intermediate financial institution.

Bitcoin’s transactions are secure because they use cryptography, the same technology used by larger online banking institutions.

Cryptography is just a fancy word for encryption.

But Bitcoin’s encryption technology utilizes an extremely complex mathematical formula that ensure the authenticity of each Bitcoin transaction.

Essentially, Bitcoin looks at a block of sequential transactions to determine if they are valid.

Bitcoin’s software records transactions in a log or “blockchain” stored across the peer-to-peer network every 10-minutes.

Subsequent transaction records make preceding transactions permanent parts of the blockchain.

Once Bitcoin receives six confirmed records or “blocks” a transaction is usually considered confirmed.

Bitcoin’s protocols makes it virtually impossible for cats to get over.

That means zero fraudulent transactions.

The reason Bitcoin is newsworthy is because it passed that billion dollar mark and now the Feds are trying to determine how to regulate it.

Bitcoin does not involve any traditional banking institutions and is completely exempt of regulations of any kind.

It is an ecosystem unto itself.

Whole communities have sprung up, transacting solely in Bitcoins.

Bitcoin accepted here

In fact, you’ll find several sites sporting the Bitcoin logo, advertising the fact that they accept Bitcoin payments.

At this point, I’m sure many of you are scratching your heads, thinking, “what’s a Bitcoin?”

Recognizing the limited intellectual capacity of many of my readers, I’ve included a visual aid.

Next time we’ll examine the psychological implications of the blue pill red pill dilemma.

Please bring your marble notebooks.

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Filed under digital advocacy, technology