Designing Peer-to-Peer Systems as Closed Knowledge Commons

Published: 03 Nov 2023, Last Modified: 20 Nov 2023DICG 2023EveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Keywords: economics, peer-to-peer, append-only logs
TL;DR: Making update replication in peer-to-peer systems conditional on contribution enables new economic models with the potential to be competitive with cloud hosting.
Abstract: In contrast to many online services based on client-server infrastructure, peer-to-peer systems are usually designed as open commons. This is partly because, by design, peer-to-peer systems replicate data on end-user devices and typically use open implementations, precluding access control. Open commons however lower incentives for end users to contribute the resources necessary to cover development and maintenance costs, resulting in chronic under-funding and few offerings of mature peer-to-peer alternatives. In this paper, we show how to design peer-to-peer systems as closed commons by making the replication of updates conditional to proven contributions, tracked by a blockchain or eventually-consistent ledger. We also present an economic model that incentivizes users to support both developers of the system and content producers. We finally identify factors that suggest our economic model might be cost-competitive with cloud-hosting for compatible applications.
Submission Number: 3