Possibilities of Re-Mapping Internet Routes

Casey Johnston at Ars Technica has a detailed write up of some new research published in Nature Communications this week. It is comparable to other efforts about which I’ve read before. The idea makes a good deal of sense, mapping out the existing internet backbone and looking for schemes to re-arrange the connections and routing for greater efficiency. In this instance, the mapped view is hyperbolic and relies on something called “greedy forwarding”.

Greedy forwarding is based on the desire to get information around in as short a distance as possible, while forcing each node to maintain very little information—nothing beyond the coordinates of its neighbors. If a node holds information, it checks the destination coordinate against those of its neighbors, and then sends the info on to the neighbor that is nearest to the destination. After a series of similar transitions, the information arrives without anyone having to chart the whole route.

The hitch is that the scheme doesn’t work with the way the various players on the backbone are already connected. Peering and transit relationships are driven more by business needs than routing efficiency. The likelihood of re-organizing for potential efficiency and reliability considering existing investments is slim.

Johnston does point to some cause for optimism, that the researchers are looking for a similar approach that might work despite the existing business connections. Calling the idea of a pipe dream may be a bit of an exaggeration after all, depending on those future efforts.

Plan to organize the Internet turns out to be a pipe dream, Ars Technica

Effect of the Net on Institutions in the Coming Decade

On BoingBoing Cory points to a newly released survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center. This is actually the fourth time this survey has been conducted.

At its heart are five questions.

The survey was targeted to some of the most interesting and prolific thinkers on these topics. In addition to summarizing the responses into simple scores, you can read through the attributed, free form comments in response to each question.

Respondents include, but aren’t limited to:

Clay Shirky, Esther Dyson, Doc Searls, Nicholas Carr, Susan Crawford, David Clark, Jamais Cascio, Peter Norvig, Craig Newmark, Hal Varian, Howard Rheingold, Andreas Kluth, Jeff Jarvis, Andy Oram, David Sifry, Marc Rotenberg, John Pike, Andrew Nachison, Anthony Townsend, Ethan Zuckerman, Stephen Downes, Rebecca MacKinnon, Jim Warren, Sandra Brahman, Seth Finkelstein, Jerry Berman, and Stewart Baker.