Peer to peer
- Napster, and ideas and software that followed in its path. Two general families of ideas are called peer to peer: decentralization and dark matter. Also known as P2P.
- Computing at the edges of the network.
As participants in the web, personal computers are mainly relegated to use as viewers of data crunched elsewhere. For example, at Ebay the work of matching buyers and sellers, of coordinating multiple bids, and of creating the pages for display is all handled by a monolithic data center; computers belonging to Ebay users only transmit data to and from the data center, as well as render the data for viewing in a browser.
A peer to peer application like Freenet, by contrast, has no data center whatsoever - all computing power is contributed by users of the system - and even hybrid designs like Napster put much more responsibility (and power) on the computers of their users.
Thanks to Clay Shirky for the phrase "computing at the edges of the network".