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P2P Networking

Paolo Dini and Paul Krause


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The emergence of peer-to-peer (P2P) networking shows that technological determinism can be turned on its head: rather than socio-economic systems being determined by technological developments, sometimes technology can be determined by its users. Although in general the coupling goes both ways, P2P networking culminates the progression in computer architectures from mainframes through minicomputers, workstations, PCs, and client–server (master–slave) architectures, as information and communication technology (ICT), over a 50-year span, gradually adapted to the needs and behavior of its users (→  Communication Networks ). In contrast to the master–slave or client–server architecture, in a peer-to-peer network each node has the same status and can issue requests to or respond to requests from any other node. Centralized management of network traffic becomes functionally unnecessary, with implications of increased local autonomy and lack of centralized control of the content carried by such traffic. At the research level, P2P networks benefit from a constructive tension between two completely different disciplinary domains. While P2P networks research is increasingly drawn toward biology and physics in response to ever-increasing demands on the performance of such networks, it is also drawn toward social science as the development of P2P applications is increasingly influenced by a ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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