Here's Paul Baran's RAND-published September 1962 justification for distributed communications networks summed up in a single chart. It's also the same paper where the famous "centralized vs decentralized vs distributed" triptych of graphs comes from. You still see this exact diagram, uncited, in modern presentations on the decentralized/distributed web.

Full paper:

Paul Baran is not nearly as famous as Bob Kahn or Vint Cert or the like, but the guy literally invented packet switching in ~1964 as an outgrowth of this paper and similar work.

Show thread

Am I currently holding in my hands a physical copy of the exact paper that invented packet switching as prepared for the United States Air Force?


Show thread

Okay it never really occurred to me that in the 1960s a crytopgraphic key could be literally just a single punch card that you held onto. It presumably was under lock and key itself!

(Image from a related paper by Baran, "Security, Secrecy, and Tamper-Free Considerations". )

Show thread

I also just learned that store-and-forward packet switching was also referred to as "hot potato routing", which, why is it not still called that??

Show thread

Oh wow. So that really famous centralized vs decentralized vs distributed diagram that I quote above? Well, in one of the companion papers, Baran provides this iteration on it, which in my opinion is far superior and I'm going to start using in my presentations.

Full paper:

That's a great base for illustrating other system characteristics like how authority, costs, and complexity are concentrated or distributed

Also hinted at... Networks aren't typically homogenous, by layer or node. You won't get consensus between an urban neighborhood and a rural village on network topology because their needs differ. You could, however, get consensus on hybrid approaches that allow different local topologies

Subtooting ActivityPub v SSB

@darius "Bandwidth of links are much greater than data rate required"

This is really a critical line, isn't it. Extremely high data rate activities favor centralization.


I'm more for

1) centralized
2a) decentralized with federation
2b) decentralized and distributed

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Friend Camp

Hometown is adapted from Mastodon, a decentralized social network with no ads, no corporate surveillance, and ethical design.