File-sharing Goes Social (12 Oct 2003)
Napster's problem, of course, was that although Napster nodes acted as both client and server, the central database still gave the RIAA a single target. Seeing this, Gnutella and Kazaa shifted to a mesh of nodes that could each act as client, server, and router. These networks are self-assembling and self-reconfiguring with a minimum of bootstrapping, and decentralize even addresses and pointers to files.
Article URL: http://www.shirky.com/writings/file-sharing_social.html
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