4.7 Case Study 2: Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networking

Re-read the following extract from Chapter 8.

Click 'view document' to open extract from Chapter 8 of The Future of Ideas.

The history of disruptive technologies – think of the automobile – is often one of ongoing struggle between technical innovation and social control. New developments create new possibilities and, with them, new threats to the established order. There follows a period of chaos, innovation and change while the old order is thrown into apparent disarray; then, after a burst of institutional reform and adaptation, a measure of social control is reasserted over the disruptive technology. And so the process goes on.

Looking at the internet from this perspective, we can see a similar pattern. Because it is an innovation commons, new technologies continually emerge, and some of them prove disruptive. In recent years, some of the most disruptive newcomers have been grouped under the heading of ‘peer-to-peer’ or P2P networking. The purpose of this case study is to:

  • explain the P2P concept;

  • describe several types of P2P technology;

  • discuss the implications of P2P.

4.6 Case study 1: the second wave of innovation – the graphical browser

4.7.1 The P2P concept