Being a Peer: A Peer's Manifesto


Lately, I've been identifying myself as a peer. It's a way to communicate my support and interest towards peer-to-peer networks, but I always knew that this identity doesn't end here. It deeply includes my attitude towards people, ownership, computers and the web.

Being a peer isn't specific to the context of technological networks, they only act as an accessible interface for peers to become, live and interact.

The term peer is defined as "one that is of equal standing with another". I like how being a peer obligates equality within its own context. In a shared network everyone must understand the same under their identification as "peer" and there's nothing else that binds them together stronger.

A man, already in a bar, walks to someone sitting at a table. "Hello, I'm your peer." The other man at the table responds. "Good afternoon! I am your peer too." They shake hands, then become life-long friends and maybe, who knows, die in war together.

They both know what does it mean to be peers. It's not easy, but it's nonetheless right.

Being a peer means that I support you and I know that you support me, because we're in this together. Being a peer means that I don't want to win and prove that I'm better than you, because I want us to get along and do our thing. Being a peer means that I don't bind what I have to myself, but to the common value we share.

In the context of the web, we is the network / protocol itself. As long as I have a computer and a connection (local or global), I'm the same member of that network as everyone else, independent from my own past and future. I'm a part of the network right NOW. I'm free to disconnect and to reconnect, whenever I feel like.

I'm free to read and explore the network AND I'm also free to write to it and change it.

As a peer I can show you my real support and appreciation. Not with "Like" and "Favorite" buttons, but with storage on my computer and bandwidth on my network. I think there's no more appropriate way to express your agreement with someone over the web right now than seeding their site.

As a peer who's also a developer, I make tools that try to give my peers more fluid ways to interact with the others. The tools aren't mine, they only had been until I've shared them with the network. If a peer thinks that something could be done better, the peer takes what we already have, corrects its mistakes, makes it better, then gives it back to us.

Seriously, I want my tools to be redundant and outdated. I want you to make something better than what I've made.

One of the hardest things about being a peer is to remain that when we tend to naturally delude our superiority. To give as much as we take and maximise that within our needs and limitations. Being a peer should always be about us and not about me.

To some extent, we're all peers as members of humanity. Why don't we transform this attitude to the humans we are on the web too?

Maybe all that I wrote is false, rubbish and for sure it cannot be more than my personal opinion. But I can promise: I'm your peer to the greatest extent.

Further Reading

  • "peer" by Callil & friends, a more concrete example and technological point-of-view over being a peer and about the future of computing in general

This post was cross-published from Reading Supply.