Ferret Distributed File-Sharing

No file-sharing service is going to survive if it uses central servers for its operation. The future is totally distributed sharing. The concept of a 'ferret' (like the extinct gopher) moving around such a network, finding recent files and telling others where to find them would offer an alternative to the servers-that-can-be-sued. As soon as you go online with your file-sharing browser, it actively seeks out ferrets, temporarily traps them, and starts a google-alike process of aggregating the information they contain, so the longer you are online, the more data you (and for legal reasons, only you) have on where files are, and the more you can access. Active ferrets will avoid users who aren't sharing their own drive space.

The ferret can be a general public 'wild ferret', or a trusted 'pet ferret' that only traverses a trusted sub-network of friends. The Pro version can be a full distributed processing service as described here. Use ferrets as entirely distributed dapplets that roam around between nodes like electronic sea monkeys, micro-googling public HDD space, deleting their own older file records, and retaining an up-to-date record of what they've found & where it is. When a ferret visits your node, it can tell you which files are available, but it won't show you where, it will just tell your software where to get them from, creating your own personalised network version of Windows Explorer.

The more requests there are for a file, the more copies of it are circulated, perhaps by the ferrets. You ask for a file, you get it, but you also get a popular file plopped into your shared HDD space.

This sounds rather haphazard, but ferrets can be trained. Data files placed in shared HDD space should all have headers and be encrypted. The headers tell folk whats there (and register popularity), and the encryption can be for all registered users, or for a smaller group of people. So users can negotiate for access between each other using some internal chat software/IDs.

This allows individuals to charge privately for access to their files, all of which are encrypted, and only available across a trusted sub-network. So as well as the general sharing network, users can set up gated VPNs with their mates across the net using the software.

You could also train a 'pet' ferret to go looking for specific stuff (using headers) and then return, using a low-cost FerretSDK.

The 'enhanced' version could have an anti-virus engine, for an extra $5. On a file-sharing service, this is pretty much a necessity. Folk who won't pay for an anti-virus program normally, may need one when they start using file-sharing.

The encryption aspect is good for everyone. All open file-sharing protocols fail as people develop 'selfish clients' that download more than they upload. Here, proprietary is good. You can migrate new codes to all registered users whenever you want. Immediately, all encrypted software in shared HDD is re-encrypted using the new code. Piracy of client software is impossible. The system is too chaotic for a pirate to keep up.

In a sense, its a private internet. All the things that can be done on the internet as a whole using other peoples' services, you can charge small amounts for people to do across the globally shared net, or across smaller private networks safely, and securely. Unlike the net, all access is controlled, and everything is encrypted.

The encryption means that it can happily host secure payment systems, so you can distribute a Payment SDK like PayPal's with it, built-in, as a default payment system for members to use (to charge others to access their VPN-shared data).

Consider how it could be expanded up to browser level for xml/html files within a secure (say child-friendly, educational content, or corporate) environment. You could create a dozen different internet-like VPNs with themed content, like newsgroups, but controlled and run by users. All you do is sell the basic software and let your users supply the content in a safe environment. Your level of control within an encrypted environment is so thorough, that virus, worm, and trojan threats are no longer a problem within the system. Internal screening of files can flush malware from the system. Note that if you wish, all uploaded files can be forced through an anti-virus system within the client.

All file sharing systems are still very primitive, messing about with audio and movie files. Its the ground floor of a massive industry and the future of the internet, but it is wise to do it in a way that avoids being sued by the recording industry.

Staying proprietary stops the rogue clients on open source sharing systems that allow use of the service without sharing. This would be illegal on a proprietary service, rather than just bad form.

Help in finding other users, for when there are few local users, or to speed things up, can be sorted using digital beacons. This would be a simple tiny encrypted file (readable only by ferrets) uploaded to your webspace containing your IP. A rudimentary web server may need to be implemented in each client to push data and for later bolt-on services. You can build a lot on to this.

You would have complete control over the client software, without knowing what (or in some cases having access to) data users were holding or moving, so you can update all the variables to maintain the system and change the system-wide encryption codes at will. Users maintain their own encryption codes for their own VPNs, charge-gated or trusted sharing networks. Importantly, you don't disseminate (from your servers) any data or any metadata on files being shared. Your client programs are no more sue-able than Microsoft for its COPY command in MS-DOS.

If anyone manufactures a malware ferret, good coding of the client should stop it being a problem, as would the anti-virus software which should spot an anomalous piece of code. You can always insert a mini-firewall in the client and maintain it as you wish.

This is not just a new file-sharing system. Its the start of a road map to where the internet is going!

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