Computation Nations and Swarm Supercomputers

A few million PCs is not just more than a single PC -- it constitutes a new universe of computation. Even in its earliest stages, the peer to peer phenomenon amassed staggering computing power to search for life in outer space or calculate the shape of new medicines, aggregated disk space for peer to peer file sharing collectives, mutated new forms of publishing and organizing knowledge -- SETI@home and Napster were only the first eruptions of collective computation.

The role of voluntary cooperation is the most important and least known story is the history of personal computers and networks. The PC wasn't built by the computer industry, but by mavericks who got off on building things together that they couldn't create as individuals. The fundamental architecture of the Internet was built on free software and cooperation. The story of Unix, open source, the Internet and Usenet pioneers, is not just about the past. Dotcoms died at the same time blogs bloomed. Self-organization is an irrepressible human drive, and the Internet is a toolkit for self-organizing. The mobile Internet brings this power of self-organization out of deskbound and bodiless cyberspace into the face-to-face dimension.

The people who created personal computing and Internetworking succeeded in transforming the media they used because they were regarded as "user," not as "consumers." The ability of smart mobs to self-organize as users is a critical factor in whether the Internet of tomorrow will be open to further innovation, or whether it will be enclosed, monitored, metered, and controlled.