Distributed Provision of Service

A thought occurred ot me last night about Peek-A-Booty, the hacktivism software that you run like a screensaver on your computer, making it available as a proxy for users behind repressive national firewalls (like China's). Users on the other side of the firewall use a gnutella-like host-discovery mechanism to find you when the screensaver is running, then send http-over-ssl requests to you to fetch documents that their firewall won't pass through.

The interesting thing about this is the potential for these distributed proxies to provide service to people who can't connect to some host on the Internet for some other reason — Sympatico, Canada's DSL provider, often couldn't reach eBay because of bad routing tables, for example. In the event of another superworm attack (say a Warhol Worm version of NIMDA or CodeRed) core Internet routers may indeed fail, spoiling routing tables and making it impossible for some points to open connections to other points. In that event, Peek-A-Booty's distributed proxy could automatically locate those users who still have a connection to the host you're trying to reach and use them as a proxy, essentially providing an alternative, dynamic suite of Internet routes.

I've decided to call this a "Distributed Provision of Service." Pretty neat.