Skype as the Future of the Connectivity

Bob Frankston writes:

The more important result is to understand Skype’s Edge-connectivity. It’s an example of how communities can stay connected independent on the accidental properties of the Internet and the gatekeepers. Because the relationships are maintained at the edge mobility is fundamental. You don’t need the network to do meshing when the applications maintain their own relationships. Meshing then becomes a low level technique for pooling routers rather than a way to make applications mobile.

This edge approach can also allow the Internet itself to be simplified since the IP address can be used to facilitate routing rather than being overly constrained by having to also serve the role of stable (and dynamic) identifier. Since the identifiers are stable you don’t need a mechanism like the DNS to provide stability. Unlike the DNS, the Skype directory is a directory though it also maps identifiers into handles to facilitate rendezvous.

A more general implementation would distribute this mapping. If the applications themselves are able to participate in finding dynamic paths we can start to move beyond the current Internet’s single omniscient backbone that interconnects local LANs. The applications would find a path through a network consisting of way stations. Unlike a router a way station can be a visible transit point or an invisible. We see this kind of choice in airline flights. A flight might have a single identifier that allows one to be indifferent to the path or the user can choose explicit routing or a combination of the two.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.