The networked world

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"There's a whole world of possibilities for building networks that do things like answer questions," Lippman says. "What's traffic like three miles down the road? What bakery nearby has croissants coming out of the oven right now? Is there someone around who can help me because I just cut myself with a piece of glass on the beach? Who wants to share a cab with me?"

Proximal networks are based on resources that are nearby, but do more than simply consult GPS to retrieve a geographic solution. The peer-to-peer style is driven by a few key benefits. One is scalability. A peer-to-peer system can grow without being overloaded, Lippman says. A second benefit is the ability to operate free of an infrastructure. Thirdly, it's about building a style of communications that's not based on addresses, but rather relationships and context.

"There are questions that you want to ask the space around you," Lippman says. "You want to blast out offers, requests, information and questions, and have those questions be answered or responded to in an appropriate way by your own device."

It's easy to imagine how proximal networks might add more depth to our communications, personally and professionally — adding even more power to networked connectivity.

"If you look at the impact the network has had over the last two to three decades, it has been significant," Cisco's Evans says. But it's only the beginning. "We've just begun this journey and it's going to be a really great journey."

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

This story, "The networked world" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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