As part of a European Union-funded project dubbed "Pursuit," researchers have proposed a Pursuit Internet they say would be a more socially minded and intelligent system, in which users would obtain information without needing direct access to the servers where content is initially stored.
Instead, they said, individual computers would be able to retrieve and then share content, providing other users with the option to access data, or fragments of data, from a wide range of locations rather than the source itself.
The Pursuit Internet would emulate the "peer-to-peer" approach used by some file-sharing sites, but on an unprecedented, Internet-wide scale, the researchers said.
"The current Internet architecture is based on the idea that one computer calls another, with packets of information moving between them, from end to end," Dirk Trossen, computer scientist at the University of Cambridge Computer Lab and the technical manager for Pursuit, said. "As users, however, we aren't interested in the storage location or connecting the endpoints. What we want is the stuff that lives there.
"The only reason we care about Web addresses and servers now is because the people who designed the network tell us that we need to," he said in a Cambridge release Wednesday. "What we are really after is content and information."
The redesigned Internet would make access to information faster and more efficient, and prevent servers or sources from becoming overloaded, the researchers said.
"Widely used content that millions of people want would end up being widely diffused across the network," Trossen said. "Everyone who has republished the content could give you some, or all of it. So essentially we are taking dedicated servers out of the equation."