Outraged Moderates
July 23, 2004 8:28 PM   Subscribe

Peer to Peer Politics Here's an idea the RIAA can get behind: Thad Anderson, a second-year student at St. John's School of Law, has launched a peer-to-peer network that allows users to access and share government documents. More than 600 court and government documents, including memos, communications and reports, are available on his OutragedModerates.org site, and can be accessed through the Kazaa, LimeWire and Soulseek P2P networks. Among those documents available are the Abu Ghraib prison scandal memos and the Senate Intelligence Committee report on government intelligence leading up to the Iraq War. The concept of using a P2P network to share embarrassing documents is interesting ... considering some in Congress have proposed an outright ban on the P2P file sharing systems that are widely used to trade music, movies and porn. via Politics1.com
posted by Rastafari (9 comments total)
That is probably the smoothest P2P idea I have ever heard of. Good job Thad.
posted by Keyser Soze at 8:46 PM on July 23, 2004

Combine a great search engine and a corporate network running PTP and instant empowerment?

Doesn't scale, but a small business could see some benefits. I hate hunting files based on a poor network hierarchy.

I wish the legislators could see it is the content, not the technology that is the core of the issue.
posted by infowar at 9:01 PM on July 23, 2004

Has any business embraced P2P as a method of transferring data across the network?
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:39 PM on July 23, 2004

Infowar, perhaps I'm being shortsighted but I don't see how a p2p aspect adds any value in an intranet scenario. Can you elaborate?

Not that this is not a very good post and underlying idea, further showing that the valuable and non-infringing test is easily met.
posted by billsaysthis at 9:44 PM on July 23, 2004

Doesn't scale, but a small business could see some benefits.

I think small businesses where everyone can actually know all the employees might be the only place where there would even possibly be the level of requisite trust. Most larger organizations I've been a part of would much rather diseminate information from a central server so that they can shut of distribution at any time.

Of course, once the horse is out of the barn, in reality there's not too much they can do, but P2P makes the problem worse, and those at the top of corps and other institutions want to minimize loss of control.
posted by weston at 11:12 PM on July 23, 2004

Most larger organizations I've been a part of would much rather diseminate information from a central server so that they can shut of distribution at any time.

That's one of those things that I've always seen as a very fundamental problem, especially in a development environment. Coming from a 3-year sentence... er, stint as an IT developer in a large, centrally-governed organization I've noticed that the decisions about practically every aspect of the working environment are decided by people who are barely aware -- if at all -- of our job functions and needs (in the case of my particular organization the issue was compounded by the decision makers being, depending on the issue, 400 miles or 4000 miles away from my work location).

Altogether this worked fine for the majority of the workers in the organization (a bank) which are heavily regulated, but for IT developers I can only describe the situation as shite. A developer does not do the same things as a bank teller or loan officer, and the tools used by one are useless to the other.

Decentralization would have been most useful in that particular situation. I'm not sure that P2P would have been terribly useful, but clearly the central control model wasn't working. People ended up uselessly requesting laptops because that was the only way to get around the technical issues related to the central IT control of the organization. I always wonder how much money was futilely spent by getting people laptops they never really needed just to get around limitations which were tied to the desktop systems which everyone got "by default".
posted by clevershark at 11:25 PM on July 23, 2004

My thoughts on P2P being actively used in the workforce would be a scenario much like this:

There is a large amount of data that needs to be sent to many computers on your network, as soon as possible (windows patch, major account system renovation, software update).

A small group of machines automatically recieve this information.

The small amount of machines parlay this information to a larger set of machines.

Once a large amount of machines are reached, the system goes into a state of low overhead mode: Small transfers are made from each machine to the machines that do not yet have the info. This very quickly, and quite efficiently, makes a major change to all the computers in a very small amount of time.
posted by Keyser Soze at 2:55 AM on July 24, 2004

P2P is a fine distribution method, no doubt about that..and the guy effort is commendable and actually usefull, but the main problem to begin with, I guess, isn't distribution.

Rather, concentration, retention and production are the problems.

As for concentration and retention :
Some P2P network may act as a library one can use to find all the stuff online in ONE place (the p2p network of choice) ,but this isn't the role of P2P ; we're resting on the assumption enough people will remain online and let people download documents from their computers. There's a fighting chance enough people will be online at the same time and make documents avaiable, but there's no guarantee.

In other words, don't think P2P is an alternative for sites like Memory Hole, driven by people with some agenda or some personal interest (not necessarily an economical one).

As for the content production : what's the pointing of having a P2P network if there's nothing interesting on it.
More info/memo/documents/whatnot should be the main concern ..as for example we can't rely forever on 2-3 guys filing FOIA request and investigating the unholy collusions between goverment entities and corporation special interests.
posted by elpapacito at 3:38 AM on July 24, 2004

In the years in which I developed/designed intranet I ran into the same problems. There is the issue of getting content onto the Intranet and the issue of what content is available to the workers.

Content management Systems (CMS) have been available for several years now. However, CMS systems make people change the way they work. As a result (combined with the often arcane knowledge required to use them) people don't utilize them. So that information you want out there is not shared.

Additionally, some businesses (like my PT job) have part time staff and very non-technical leadership. Rather than develop a central hierarchy of information of the 3-4 computers we have knowing that nobody will find what they are looking for, why not just have a great search feature locate the files for you no matter what machine they are on?

I agree that it doesn't scale well and the reasons usually boil down to control and access privileges. In a corporate environment those are more important than actually getting the information to the users. However, in a business with 10-20 employees constantly rotating in and out I think the P2P option may be viable. Of course this will be some minimal training involved (what to make available for instance), but it seems so much easier than explaining to the boss for the 10th time the difference between accessing files from his log in compared to those on his wife's.

Keyser offers another idea, but I'm thinking it would be better to use a centralized push system for patches and the like. But I am no network admin and so I really have no idea what I am talking about! :)
posted by infowar at 6:50 AM on July 24, 2004

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