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Summary:

PARC is working on a new networking technology that would make it possible for end users to connect with each other through “a Facebook without Facebook.com.” With Content-Centric Networking, data would self-organize, benefiting both end users and enterprises. First commercial applications could emerge within 18 months.

Teresa Lunt - VP and Director of the Computing Science Laboratory, PARC, a Xerox company - Structure 2011

Teresa Lunt - VP and Director of the Computing Science Laboratory, PARC, a Xerox company - Structure 2011Updated. Xerox PARC’s engineers developed the Ethernet, the mouse, the laser printer and many other staples of everyday computing back in the 1970s. Forty years later, the lab is back at it: Teresa Lunt, VP and director of the computing science lab at PARC, showed off a new networking technology dubbed Content-Centric Networking (CCN) at GigaOM’s Structure conference in San Francisco today.

Networks used to be about getting messages from point A to point B, Lunt said. Today’s networks, on the other hand, are all about collaboration and sharing, be it with Dropbox or iCloud. Existing network technology wasn’t made for this purpose, and companies have come up with patchwork solutions to make these new kinds of services work.

PARC wants to replace all of this by putting the emphasis on the content, not points on the network it travels through. Content is automatically encrypted and cached all over the network, and queried by name and description. “Information is self-organizing, and you don’t have to search for it,” explained Lunt. Think of it like a giant, autonomous mesh network of data. “With today’s network, data moves explicitly,” Lunt said. “With CCN, the data just moves.”

The concept sounds a little puzzling at first, but Lunt said that the implications could be far-reaching, both for end users and enterprises. Users would be able to form autonomous social networks, something that Lunt called “a Facebook without Facebook.com,” with the benefit that the privacy options would be in their hands. Likewise, enterprises wouldn’t have to depend on third-party cloud solutions but could define their own fortune through data.

Sounds futuristic? Lunt believes that first commercial applications based on CCN could appear in the marketplace within 18 months. PARC has been busy making that happen, partnering with Samsung, releasing CCN open source code for Android and maintaining an open source community at CCNX.org. The company is also showcasing CCN at Meshin.com. You might want to take a look at it, if only to say that you have tried the next PARC innovation before it changed everything.

Update: A PARC spokesperson contacted us to clarify that Meshin isn’t actually based on CCN, but merely implementing similar ideas as the ones behind CCN.

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  1. > “Information is self-organizing, and you don’t have to search for it” explained Lunt of PARC. “Think of it like a giant, autonomous mesh network of data”.

    Laudable but other players also working on elements of this ;)

  2. I guess you could say the future will be “meshinized”.

    1. We’d like to think so. We’d appreciate you contributing to that future. Sign up for our Android beta. http://goo.gl/FFQo4

  3. Julien Nakache Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Sounds a lot like freenet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freenet
    The main issue with those concepts have always been to gather and query the data in a timely manner… I can’t see what is new based on this article. Please dig deeper, we are on gigaom ;)

    1. We will, but also wanted to cover the event in a timely fashion. Stay tuned! :)

  4. Love that they open-sourced it. Otherwise they would probably figure out it does not integrate with their Copiers and give the technology away to someone like Apple who would make $20B off it.

    1. heh, you said that perfectly dude.

    2. They didn’t give it away. It was through two pre-arranged visits. Do your research you #@%^& *&^$#. Xerox was allowed to buy a sizable block of Apple stock at a killer price pre-IPO. Xerox sold it relatively shortly, so it isn’t Apple’s fault Xerox screwed up. Also why did half the PARC employees working in the GUI/Star/Alto division jump ship to Apple? Just for salary? No, they knew Apple was on an exciting course and Xerox/PARC was dead in the water, a wonderful research lab but no commercialization interest. In fact, maybe the employees instigated it, using friendship across companies to divulge the bare essentials of what they were working on, hoping someone might bite and come look.

      While Apple engineers found the GUI work interesting, the Apple GUI and Finder, even the earliest version, is quite an advance on the original Xerox/PARC principles. And while Apple has made oodles of money, there was no guarantee back then that this change of course in computing was economically rewarding.

      1. Wow! here comes another die hard Apple fanboy!

  5. Richard Bennett Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    “Lunt believes that first commercial applications based on CCN could appear in the marketplace within 18 months.”

    CCN advocates have been saying this for 10 years. It’s not a new idea by any means.

  6. I don’t understand how Meshin is different from Xobni except for a few more add-ons such as facebook and linked in connect.

    Combing streams of communications is great, but some streams are deliberately separate from one another. Not sure how Meshin handles that.

    Disclaimer. I downloaded it today and have been playing with it. Decent so far, but not blown away

    1. Thank you for the feedback, Rahul. For us, the major difference is context. Not only can Meshin act as your rolodex and address book when you need it to, but Meshin looks at the context within the entire communication channels between both parties. Think of it as the non-verbals that computer mediated communication has been void of for far too long. By factoring in more of the story such as frequency, location, platform, ect, Meshin is able to evolve beyond a client/contact management system.

      What’s also great is that we’re very dynamic and love to listen to feedback from users like you. How would you use Meshin? What are the pain points in your communication process? Let us know how we can tweek our application to best suit you. Feel free to shoot us an email at info[at]Meshin.com.

      Thanks again.

  7. Sorry. PARC is not responsible for the mouse. Doug Engelbart of SRI invented it

  8. More choice can only be good, Meshin sounds interesting, thanks.

    1. Thanks, Gazz! We’d love to have you try it out. Sign up for our Android beta. http://goo.gl/FFQo4

  9. I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshiba laptop for $94.83 being delivered to our house tomorrow by FedEX. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores. I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get all this stuff, BidsNew.com

    1. Will CCN help us avoid spam like this?

      Because then it would be really useful…

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