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Reliable, mass distribution (was Re: CEOlink)

  • From: Sean Donelan
  • Date: Wed Mar 20 20:12:02 2002

On Thu, 14 Mar 2002, Iljitsch van Beijnum wrote:
> In theory, news would be more rebust than mail, because of its distributed
> nature and it should be possible to make news work without relying on the
> DNS.

USENET/news has a few properties which make it reliable.  The most
important is the flooding method of propagation.  Second, it propogates
over multiple types of transport (UUCP, TCP/IP, Satellite, Magtape via
Fedex, etc).  That combination results in an extremely robust
mass-distribution method for messages.  It is also extremely fast (a
few seconds for the "core" news sites), but has a very long tail.

Mailing lists, web sites, etc. have a bottleneck in the distribution
process.  But are much better for controlled, or authenticated
information.  The CDC may get hacked, or may be wrong about Anthrax,
but if you go to the CDC web site it is highly probable the information
on the web site is from the CDC.  The lack of control of USENET is its
strength and its weakness.

It would be interesting to come up with a protocol that combined
the robust flooding algorithm of USENET with a way to verify the
source (i.e. prevent spam).