I've got a few posts in the works, but reading Brad Neuberg's blog post this morning on HyperScope has got me itchy to mention one of my pleas to the folks creating web operating systems. It was Brad's reference to Paper Airplane that has made me lose my patience. Paper Airplane is a JXTA-based project to allow anyone to serve up web content without a web server.
Well, the Paper Airplane demo is starting to look pretty good. The bee in my bonnet is telling me to try to reach those Web OS folks, namely YouOS and Parakey, and make sure they aren't leaving this great research on the side of their efforts.
Paper Airplane is a Mozilla plugin that empowers people to easily create collaborative P2P web sites, without setting up servers or spending money. It does this by integrating a web server into the browser itself, including tools to create collaborative online communities that are stored on the machine. Paper Airplane Groups are stored locally on a user's machine. A peer-to-peer network is created between all of the Paper Airplane nodes that are running in order to resolve group names and reach normally unreachable peers due to firewalls or NAT devices.
Parts of Paper Airplane have been modularized into the P2P Sockets project, a reimplementation of standard Java sockets on top of Jxta and ports of standard web servers, servlet engines, etc. to run on top of a peer-to-peer network. P2P Sockets is at a 1.0 beta level, while Paper Airplane development is just beginning. Paper Airplane code will be posted to this site as it is developed.
See the demo screencast of Paper Airplane in action to get a quick overview.
It must be among the key objectives of a Web OS to provide a programming layer, core set of services, and guided user interface paradigms. Decentralized hosting is fundamental among that set of services as it is completely necessary for privacy, reliability, and ease-of-use. To require centralized hosting, that is, to fail to provide for all users to be service and content providers, would be an devastating sin.
Expect more on this topic from me soon.