cyberspacial musings
bits about the real and virtual worlds

12 Jul

Gene Kan Memorial

Gene Kan, a pioneer in this emerging era of peer to peer technology, died June 29th, apparently of suicide (see John Borland’s article on CNet). I’ll tell you up front that I didn’t know Gene personally, but his work put him among the top names in the P2P community.

Kan was most identified with Gnutella, the protocol that Limewire and similar file sharing applications use to conduct searches. His startup, InfraSearch, was acquired by Sun, but I have always figured that Sun bought the company so that he would work on JXTA.

I’ve heard Kan speak several times and his ability to engage with the crowd was much better than with your typical techie. Kan and Sean Fanning are often put side by side as the guys who got the whole P2P revolution rolling, but they represented two very different things. Fanning developed an alternative namespace in which systems could connect to each other by a manual search of a large directory (Napster). Kan, on the other hand, contributed to the development of a protocol on which many other applications have been developed.

He was way too young to leave this planet — his contributions had only just begun.

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