O'Reilly P2P and Web Services Conference: Program Chair's Best Bets

by Rael Dornfest

In February, Peer-to-Peer was the hottest term on the Net, and the href="http://www.openp2p.com/pub/a/p2p/2001/01/18/tim_conf.html">O'Reilly
P2P Conference was the talk of the town. Cory Doctorow of Open
Cola (and a member of our conference committee) called it a "a
mind-blowing, magnificent event, a Continental Congress of P2P."

Scarcely two months later the href="http://www.openp2p.com/pub/a/p2p/2001/04/05/shirky.html">backlash
charging P2P with over-hyped buzzword-compliance had begun. Where's
the business model? Why does P2P matter? What does this bring to the
enterprise? Why should IT give a tinker's?

Rumours of P2P's demise are greatly exaggerated. On the contrary,
while much of the hype has blown over and the silicon bubble burst,
P2P as mindset is going strong. And this is reflected in our
conference. We've added a day of tutorials and expanded to over ninety
sessions in twelve tracks the likes of: Business Models,
Collaboration, Infrastructure, Wireless and Messaging, Legislative and
Digital Rights Management.

You may also have noticed the addition of Web Services to the marquee.
As we started work on the conference, it became increasingly clear
that P2P and Web Services were two streams arbitrarily being held
apart despite increasingly convergent themes, protocols, technologies,
and applications. The streams just begged to be crossed, if only to
see what might happen -- Ghostbusters analogy intended. What emerged
was a stone soup very much worth tasting. P2P delivers not only
resources at the edge of the Internet but, as a nice side-effect,
presence and identity -- two vital ingredients in Web Services. Web
Services extend P2P beyond file- and CPU-sharing, instant messaging,
and the like to deliver services and resources beyond simple files and
computational drones. What we're building is a collaborative computing fabric
where every node -- be it person, computer, software -- is part of the
network computer, what Tim O'Reilly calls "The Internet Operating System."

We have an action-packed and information-rich week ahead of us. I
very much look forward to the conference -- as attendee as much as
Program Chair. With so much going on, I thought I'd highlight a few
of the sessions I'm particularly keen on.

The conference kicks off with a day
chock-full of incredible tutorials. Roll up your sleeves and dive on

  • href="http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/p2pweb2001/view/e_sess/1794">An
    Introduction to Collaborative Computing
    An introductory yet
    in-depth tour of the technical, sociological, legislative, and
    business themes you'll be encountering and diving into all week. Who
    better to introduce you to the many facets of the conference than the
    folks who pulled the content together, members the program commitee: Cory
    Doctorow, Wes Felter, Lucas Gonze, John Scott, Fred von Lohmann, and

  • href="http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/p2pweb2001/view/e_sess/1924">Building
    Web Services with .NET
    Would I were able to be in two places
    at once, you'd find me at Peter Drayton's .NET tutorials. I've just
    spent an intense three days at DevelopMentor's Conference .NET diving
    into the deep end of Microsoft's .NET and related technologies and
    find myself more intrigued than ever. Peter is one of DevelopMentor's
    wonderful teachers and co-author of the O'Reilly href="http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/csharpess/">C# Essentials

  • href="http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/p2pweb2001/view/e_sess/1544">SOAP:
    The Power of Simplicity
    And were I allowed the luxury of
    tripresence, I'd most certainly take in Paul Kulchenko and Tony Hong's
    SOAP tutorial. Paul is the creator of the astoundingly simply while
    incredulously powerful SOAP::Lite Perl module. If you've not been to
    a magic show of late, this is the tutorial for you.

Each day features two keynotes framing one or
more of the themes we'll be considering and developing over the course
of the conference.

  • Clay Shirky, renowned for his insight and ability to set the stage
    for just about any discussion, considers the swirling jumble of memes
    and technologies underlying the evolution of the Web beyond the simple
    PC-based browser+server model in
    Great Re-wiring

  • Sun Microsystems's Simon Phipps is
    Beyond Services
    at the driving principles behind the harmonization of Web Services,
    P2P, and wireless.

  • A double-bill brings together Stanford Law Professor Lawrence
    Lessig ("Preserving the Innovation Commons: What's Really
    at Stake
    ") and Congressman href="http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/p2pweb2001/view/e_spkr/992">Rick
    Boucher, leading architect of federal policy for the Internet, for
    a look at emergent computing and it's impact on the legislative

  • Michael Conner, IBM Distinguished Engineer, dives into the
    program-to-program communication model driving " href="http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/p2pweb2001/view/e_sess/1805">Web
    Services: The Next Horizon of e-Business."

  • Microsoft Software Architect David Stutz lays out the .NET
    architecture and it's place in P2P applications and Web Services in
    his optimistically titled " href="http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/p2pweb2001/view/e_sess/1826">P2P
    - The Post Mortem."

The conference takes on not only the
technical, but sociological, legislative, collaborative, and
business-focused aspects of the P2P and Web Services space(s).

  • href="http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/p2pweb2001/view/e_sess/1631">SOAP
    Routing and Message Path Modeling
    To my mind some of the
    most interesting potentiality on the Web services horizon is imbuing
    data with enough business logic--or "orchestration" in the current
    vernacular--to follow a path through one or more intermediaries before
    making the trip back home or elsewhere. Henrik Frystyk Nielsen is an
    architect at Microsoft, co-author of HTTP/1.0, HTTP/1.1, and SOAP/1.1
    and is a member of the W3C XML Protocol Working Group.

  • href="http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/p2pweb2001/view/e_sess/1621">Network-Centric
    Over the course of putting together the conference,
    I've come across various conversations around the military
    applications of P2P. This intersection obviously makes sense
    considering the Internet's roots as a distributed system of autonomous
    nodes meant to withstand, and continue operations despite, an attack
    on some subset thereof. Michael Macedonia, of the US Army STRICOM,
    discusses the military's return to P2P and it's effect on warfare and
    foreign policy.

  • href="http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/p2pweb2001/view/e_sess/1552">An
    Update on P2P and the Law
    The legal scene around P2P
    post-Napster has grown ever more complex, both in terms of litigation
    and legislation. EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn untangles some of the

  • href="http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/p2pweb2001/view/e_sess/1727">The
    Accidental Web Service: How XML-RPC United Two Systems 3000 Miles
    The Web Services soup is already bubbling over with
    buzzwords: SOAP, WSDL, UDDI, XML-RPC. Yet with library
    implementations outshining actual well-known services, where's the
    beef? Web services abound; they're just not the sexy open services
    everyone's looking to hold up as exemplars of the space. Tim Allwine
    and Joe Johnston (co-author of the O'Reilly href="http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/progxmlrpc/">Programming Web
    Services with XML-RPC book) have created just the sort of
    honest-to-goodness Web service to which we should all be paying

  • href="http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/p2pweb2001/view/e_sess/1775">The
    ICQ Story: The First Internet-wide Instant Messenger
    co-founder Yair Goldfinger offers a ground-floor walk-through of the
    technologies, problems, solutions, and other experiences gleaned
    whilst building ICQ.

  • href="http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/p2pweb2001/view/e_sess/1737">Asheron's
    Call: Lessons from a Massively
    Multiplayer Online World

    Matthew Ford: "(Note: many of the SETI@Home insights from the last
    conference could have been lifed out of an online game designer's
    playbook - United Devices had essentially reinvented the wheel that massively
    multiplayer RPG guys have been using for years). "

  • href="http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/p2pweb2001/view/e_sess/1923">P2P
    and Email: Wherein Lies the Attachment

    Religious discussion of plumbing aside, to most eyeballs the consummate P2P
    application is email. I'll be sitting down with Michael Tanne, Brian Smiga,
    Thierry Hubert, and Jon Udell (one of my favourite in-the-large
    thinkers) and exploring the lessons email brings to P2P, both on the
    technical and sociological levels.

  • href="http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/p2pweb2001/view/e_sess/1806">Panel:
    Open Services

    There's been considerable attention of late given to the wonders and
    power of Open Source. Not much is said, however, about the array of
    possible Open Services that are every bit as valuable as source code.
    This panel is an extension of a dialogue I started with InfraSearch's
    Gene Kan. For some context, take a gander at Gene's " href="http://www.openp2p.com/pub/a/p2p/2001/08/02/openservices.html">Next
    Step for P2P? Open Services" and my " href="http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/rss/2000/05/09/meerkat_api.html#open_service">Meerkat:
    An Open Service API".

  • href="http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/p2pweb2001/view/e_sess/1736">Cybiko:
    Wireless Instant Messaging and Entertainment for the Schoolyard and
    Take a Blackberry. Warp and colourize it. Pack with
    instant messaging, multi-player gaming, file-sharing, and multitudes
    of other applications, all freely downloadable.
    Completely decentralize it. Infuse with a healthy dose of wireless
    networking. Throw an SDK at hundreds of developers. Now, make it
    available for under $99 per unit with zero activation
    or recurring service charges. You've got "teenage bluetooth."

  • href="http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/p2pweb2001/view/e_sess/1927">Panel:
    The P2P PIE

    Join the co-authors of the O'Reilly " href="http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/p2presearch/">2001 P2P Networking
    Overview" as we slice the P2P PIE -- Presence, Identity, and Edge
    resources -- and delve into what it means and takes to be a PIE

  • href="http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/p2pweb2001/view/e_sess/1795">Panel:
    P2P meets Web Services

    An exploration of the meme-collision between P2P and Web Services.
    What problems do XML-based Web Services and decentralized P2P
    frameworks solve for one-another?

Our first Peer-to-Peer conference managed to bring together just the
right mix of people, topics, and applications for a truly multifaceted
discussion. One was just as likely to run into incredible buzz in the
hallways as the sessions themselves. This conference promises even
more in its number and diversity of sessions and speakers,
comprehensive tutorials -- and there's even more hallway space for
those unexpected conversations.

What sessions and tutorials are you most excited about?