I sometimes have these great and wonderful ideas — but I’m so completely jaded about University and/or Government (or Corpoate) bureacracies, that I never think they can be realized. Or I get caught up in this tiny, tiny, little details that really don’t matter any. Or I write long rambly versions of my barbaric yawp, and well, we all know what happens there. I’d do it myself, but I like sleep. And I really hate programming (but like debugging). And it’s a programmer’s world — not a debugger’s world.
So, like I was saying, these great and wonderful ideas — Like that time in 1994/1995 in the North Carolina location of GTE Government Systems, where the System 6 to System 7 upgrade was done and I sat in the basement waiting for the Microsoft Mail server to break again — and started installing something called NCSA httpd on whatever ancient version of SunOS I had on the IPX in front of me. And then after countless hours of finding the greatest “Under Construction” graphics I could find and playing with some Netscape Beta thing that seemed kinda cooler than that other “Mosaic” thing — I sounded my yawp to my boss and any one else that could hear… “This stuff is the future! Not necessarily publicly — but imagine each GTE site bringing one of these up! We could share all kinds of documentation and resources, and internal procedures and things!” And they all thought it was cool and the graphics were neat. But nobody had any time to do much with it, and there was no money, and I still hadn’t finished my filemaker pro hardware tracker thingie that was way too slow in hypercard.
Of course, later my then boss goes on to manage some web thing for GTE corporate, and is now some big web retail honcho Neiman Marcus (I think) — and I failed out of my GTE interviews and became a windows lab manager/windows programmer/general complainer. Of course, I did eventually go work for a web group. Full circles, hakuna matatas, fate, destiny, meant to be — all that jazz.
But while this post is all about me – it is my blog after all – it’s not about missing the web. Everybody missed that one of course, just like every old person walked 5 miles up hills both ways in the snow to school.
No, this particular post is actually about Thomas Jefferson. Okay, it’s about Google and P2P — but it’s about Jefferson too. Jefferson said:
“…let us save what remains: not by vaults and locks which fence them from the public eye and use in consigning them to the waste of time, but by such a multiplication of copies, as shall place them beyond the reach of accident.”
Which is of course about the library system. But it’s also Disaster Recovery. Real Disaster Recovery. Not the same Disaster Recovery that is being practiced by many of my IT colleagues — that gets its inspiration from the movie Contact “Why buy one when you can buy two for twice the price” — and then add absurdly expensive security and cooling systems vulnerable to things like forgetting to plug the chilled water pumps into the backup generator…. sorry, I digress I was talking about Jefferson, and Google, and P2P — and mostly about insane amounts of storage…
That is, the idea is that you could probably achieve a real and serious massively fault tolerant, virtually unlimited amount of storage by turning lots of little hard drives in a whole lot of machines into a legitimate storage based P2P network. I’m not talking about shared copies of Field of Dreams — I’m talking massive amounts of image, research data, etc. etc. yadda yadda yadda. Maybe even some recipes or images of trips to Aruba, what do I care?
I thought in 2003 that IBM was working on this. But apparently Google was. Not necessarily on all those machine that the Google Toolbar is installed on (though think about that for a little while and come back when the light bulb goes on, and the goes off when you think about encryption back doors from China or even the U.S. ) But on their hundreds of little beige Google File System boxes… And where else do you have hundreds of little lab machines with multi-gig drives in them sitting idle most of the time? that’s Riiiiiight.
Anyway, I cast my barbaric yawp about doing this at the University three years ago and hundreds of thousands of storage dollars later.
Even some of our staff have even been brainstorming how we might somehow use P2P to address storage needs and problems on campus more cost-effectively, harnessing the ever growing internal multi-gigabyte disks coming in everyday desktop machines.
Of course, I was mostly complaining about P2P ports getting blocked so my real point got buried — by me. And all my IT colleagues thought I was nuts… “of course we should have the storage in hermetically sealed and secured mayonnaise jars in climate controlled server rooms”
But, like most technical ideas, like science, there’s a lot of simultaneous discovery and other groups here and there have been yawping about it for a while too. Google just gets to pull it off. It’s about execution after all, not yawping. Walk the yawp, that’s what I always say.
Heck, I’m one to yawp. I have several terabytes in Xserve Raids sitting around at the moment until I think of some good ways to store lots of horse movies on them. Which of course rambles me back to the original point… If you need me — I’ll be finding my hard hat and getting coffee
(p.s. yes I know that this post is completely rambly, but I was at work 12 hours today, and had a cyrus mailbox go out to Aruba somewhere. So there’s some slack to be granted. Anyway, the point is in here. Somewhere. When you find it let me know, aight? 😉 )