Bruce Sterling and I are having a "Keynote Conversation" next Tuesday at SXSW, called "The Death of Scarcity." We're talking about the stuff that Bruce covers in his "Information Wants to be Worthless" editorial, the ideas I cover in my forthcoming novel, "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom," about what parts of the economy are still scarce -- and hence valuable -- in a world of zero-cost duplication, and having a high old time. Link
I'm on a panel on Tuesday called "P2P and Superworms: Will P2P kill the Internet?" Here's the premise for the panel:
The antecedants to Warhol and Flash worms, i.e., NIMDA et al, have been fantastically destructive (NIMDA took TorEx, the main internet interchange for Toronto, offline for two days, effectively knocking the whole city off the Internet). Warhol and Flash worms will be far more destructive, because there will be no warning and hence no chance to harden vulnerable machines against their exploits, so you'd have the whole net going zombie and attacking at once.My co-panelists are Wes "Hack the Planet" Felter, Steven "Audiogalaxy" Hazel, Brandon "Wacky Freenet Haxor" Wiley and Jason "The Moderator" Levitt. Should be a blast of good, old-fashioned hysterical doomsaying! Link
But "the whole net" in this case is just the routable, persistently addressable machines (i.e., servers). What if you could expose "the dark matter" of the net to a Warhol/Flash attack, infecting an order of magnitude more machines -- mightn't you really hurt the Internet?
P2P makes it theoretically possible. Almost all P2P systems provide an alternate nameservice, providing persistent addressablity for dynamically addressed machines; likewise, they provide proxy-services with http-push and similar technology for machines that are unroutable because of firewalls or NATs; finally, machines in a P2P network run common services (the P2P app) that may have common vulnerabilities.
Put this all together, and you've got the ability to conduct a census of all machines on the Internet, not just the servers, infect them quickly, even through firewalls and NATs, with a Warhol/Flash attack, and have zillions of nearly instant zombies at your disposal to DDOS all routers and other points of failure.
So that's pretty apocalyptic. But I may be full of shit. What do other people think?
Monday night at 7PM, I'll be reading from "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" at the VoxNox event at the Red Eyed Fly (715 Red River).
Join us at Vox Nox (Voice Night) as several popular SXSW authors read selections from their works. This is a unique opportunity to hear writers such as Cory Doctorow (Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom), Mark Meadows (Pause & Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative), Derek Powazek (Design for Community) and Philip and Mikela Tarlow (Digital Aboriginal) in their own voices. Words leave the page and become real, and you gain rare insight into the authors, their books, and their passions.Link Other stuff I plan on attending:
- The EFF and Polycot Consulting will be holding a party, venue TBA, on Monday night after VoxNox.
- Lawrence Lessig's keynote on Saturday at 1PM
- The Online Activist Peer Meeting on Sunday at 12:30
- Jeff Veen's keynote on Sunday at 2:15
- Fray Cafe on Sunday at 8PM at the Hideout, 617 Congress
- Open Source Politics on Monday at 10:30 AM
- Interactive TV (with TiVo's evangelist extraordinaire) on Monday at 3:30 PM