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posted by cmn32480 on Sunday July 05 2015, @08:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the i-wonder-if-they-run-rehash dept.

Stumbled upon this (disclaimer, I'm not affiliated and don't hold any special interest):

Aether is an app you install to your computer to connect to Aether network. This network is made of different boards (forums) where people post and discuss things. On the surface, it's fairly similar to Slashdot, Metafilter, Reddit, or any other community site on the Internet.

The different thing about Aether is that it doesn't have a server somewhere. The only thing the app does is that it finds and connects to other people using Aether. In other words, it's a distributed, peer-to-peer network.

This makes it impossible to censor, and renders its users anonymous. It's useful for people concerned about privacy, or pretty much anyone who doesn't want to be watched and catalogued for every word they write on the Internet (so, pretty much everybody).

It's also temporary. Whatever you post disappears after six months. It's designed to be an ephemeral space, and it's focused on now, rather than the past. Other people can still keep copies of what you wrote, but it won't last forever in the network itself. They also won't know who you are.

Community moderated, distributed and anonymous. Almost to good to be true, but... how do you know it is actually _gewg that's posting?


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  • (Score: 2) by KilroySmith on Sunday July 05 2015, @08:40PM

    by KilroySmith (2113) on Sunday July 05 2015, @08:40PM (#205367)

    It'll be interesting to see how they solve the storage problem.

    Let's see - if a billion subscribers all send a 1KB message each day (1 TB), six months worth of messages is about 182 TB. Based on my 30 second read of the website, every message is passed to every user on the Aether network, so each user needs to store 200 TB of data. Hmm, that won't work today, especially if those 1KB messages become 1GB movie rips.
    Perhaps each user sets a data limit - "I'm willing to to store 100 GB of data for Aether". Messages would spread through the network and get destroyed on individual machines based on the owner's data limit. That could work - but message delivery reliability would drop drastically as time passed.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by M. Baranczak on Sunday July 05 2015, @09:47PM

    by M. Baranczak (1673) on Sunday July 05 2015, @09:47PM (#205383)

    Let's see - if a billion subscribers all send a 1KB message each day (1 TB), six months worth of messages is about 182 TB.

    A fella wiser than myself said: "Scalability is easy. The hard part is convincing a million people to use your shitty site." Twitter has about 250 million users, you think this thing will get 4 times more users than Twitter?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06 2015, @02:32AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06 2015, @02:32AM (#205455)

      Clearly he picked a billion because of the easy math matching it to a TB. Of course if you want to screw up everyone else you can start posting large files (or a bunch of smaller files) and let their hard drives fill up with crap. It will be easy to poison this well.

      The reality is this type of system will turn into another way of sharing files with plausible deniability: I didn't download that. I don't have any control over what anyone else posts. I can only delete it from my computer once it arrives and I see what it is. That's why it's a deleted file on my hard drive.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by joshuac on Sunday July 05 2015, @09:52PM

    by joshuac (3623) on Sunday July 05 2015, @09:52PM (#205384)

    Your assumptions have Aether getting 27+ times the number of installs as the number of people who have registered on Reddit over a decade and then daily commentary from every one of those users.

    A massive success would be more like 1/27th the Reddit userbase and more reasonable posting rate may be a little closer to only the 90th percentile posting 7 times per week, with a rapidly dropping off interaction rate for the remainder.

    Put another way, if Reddit (very roughly) gets about 550 thousand comments per day and Aether is a humongous success at 1/20th the size of Reddit, and also only needs to store about 180 days of comments, that's about 5 million comments, or a whopping 5MB assuming 1KB per plain-text posted comment.

    Disk storage isn't going to be a problem.

    • (Score: 2, Disagree) by dusty monkey on Sunday July 05 2015, @10:04PM

      by dusty monkey (5492) on Sunday July 05 2015, @10:04PM (#205388)

      Put another way, if Reddit (very roughly) gets about 550 thousand comments per day and Aether is a humongous success at 1/20th the size of Reddit, and also only needs to store about 180 days of comments, that's about 5 million comments, or a whopping 5MB assuming 1KB per plain-text posted comment.

      With math like that, there is no problem that can't be solved. Problems seem to get exponentially easier the more you figure on them.

      --
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      • (Score: 1) by joshuac on Monday July 06 2015, @05:10AM

        by joshuac (3623) on Monday July 06 2015, @05:10AM (#205490)

        How did you you already know about my mathematical solution for world hunger already? ;)

        Sorry about that math, obviously I hadn't done even a quick proofreading before posting and going out the door.
        I do still standby the obvious; Aether won't have a billion users nor every user commenting every day.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 05 2015, @10:43PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 05 2015, @10:43PM (#205394)

      Don't forget how readily text is compressed. 75% compression is common with generic methods. Tweak it to be text-centric and 90% is quite possible.

      • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Monday July 06 2015, @01:18AM

        by kaszz (4211) on Monday July 06 2015, @01:18AM (#205441) Journal

        7zip seems to be the compression to use for text (as wikipedia uses it).

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by jcross on Monday July 06 2015, @12:06AM

      by jcross (4009) on Monday July 06 2015, @12:06AM (#205418)

      Additionally, you can easily shard the site into independent "sub-aethers", and users would only be downloading/storing/uploading content from the ones they're actually interested in. Systems that can be subdivided like that tend to scale very easily.

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Monday July 06 2015, @03:23AM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 06 2015, @03:23AM (#205469) Journal

      Three statements cause me problems:

      1) The different thing about Aether is that it doesn't have a server somewhere.
      2) It's also temporary. Whatever you post disappears after six months.
      3) Disk storage isn't going to be a problem.

      I can't get to #2, or #3.
          because I can't get past #1.

      --
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      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 07 2015, @06:19PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 07 2015, @06:19PM (#206185)

        Why can't you get past #1? Has the concept of peer-to-peer networks passed you by?

        #2 will obviously be controlled by the client, people can make copies of the content and keep it longer if they want to, but you won't be able to sync anything older than 6 months form other clients.

        #3 Where did you get this from?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 07 2015, @06:23PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 07 2015, @06:23PM (#206186)

          Excuse my comment for #3, I read back again and see where you got it from.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by stormwyrm on Sunday July 05 2015, @11:33PM

    by stormwyrm (717) Subscriber Badge on Sunday July 05 2015, @11:33PM (#205406) Journal

    A billion users posting a message a day? I don't believe that there has never existed any online forum that is so large and so active. And even if you had a billion users, chances are that less than 1% of those will be so active as to post even one message a day. While I do read SN every day, I probably post closer to once every three or four days.

    So just now a thought just occurred to me: in what way is Aether better than and different from Usenet? From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]: "One notable difference between a BBS or web forum and Usenet is the absence of a central server and dedicated administrator. Usenet is distributed among a large, constantly changing conglomeration of servers that store and forward messages to one another in so-called news feeds. Individual users may read messages from and post messages to a local server operated by a commercial usenet provider, their Internet service provider, university, employer, or their own server."

    --
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    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday July 06 2015, @12:19PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 06 2015, @12:19PM (#205585)

      in what way is Aether better than and different from

      Or fidonet or frost on freenet or zillions of similar ideas over the decades...

      This helps with estimates. My guess is it'll be less popular that fidonet was at its highest peak, yet lower barrier to entry than frost on freenet, so hundreds of thousands of active users is realistic. Then the math is less than a million posts a day, less than a thousand days a year, and a K per post would seem to imply less than a terabyte per year.

      Of course looking at or reading a post from a year ago seems unlikely-ish unless a really unusual user culture develops, so you really only need a couple gigs to hold a couple days. In a very usenet-ish manner you can set your expire to match your disk space, more or less.

      Also if its anything like usenet, people only literate in Chinese will have very little conversation with people only literate in English, so some sharding strategy based on language would help traffic and storage quite a bit.

      I haven't bothered digging into the dead github to see how it works, but its possible the network design will melt down before storage issues crop up, anyway. Hope they aren't doing something dumb like a mesh, or something that somehow scales O(x**4) or O(something ** x)

    • (Score: 2) by NCommander on Monday July 06 2015, @01:40PM

      by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Monday July 06 2015, @01:40PM (#205617) Homepage Journal

      USENET isn't completely decentralized. The technical term for it is store-and-forward. News has to be stored on a central server, and then fed to other servers, it's not like P2P where shit goes from user to user directly. If you want a local USENET feed, you need to either suck it down from an upstream server, or get a peering agreement from another. The best way to think of it is as a massive mirroring system.

      --
      Still always moving
      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06 2015, @03:01PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 06 2015, @03:01PM (#205649)

        What is the difference between a locally installed server that can peer with other servers (including other locally installed servers), and a locally installed client that does the same? Apart from the word used to describe it, I'd say nothing.