You may be in love with Napster and Gnutella, or you may feel that they are evil incarnate, but in either case it's hard to ignore their impact on the Internet world. However, both harbor a serious flaw: they have no provision to help insure some balance between those who are providing resources (i.e., offering files for download) and those who are consuming resources. This problem, a particular case of what biologist Garrett Hardin called "the tragedy of the commons," has already reared its head on both services, resulting in slower and slower download speeds, server crashes, and a general decrease in usability. Of course, as with any problem on the Internet people are working on a solution, and one company, Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow, has come up with a new alternative, Mojo Nation. Mojo Nation provides more or less the same set of capabilities that Napster and Gnutella provide, but with an added twist: those who are uploading files (actually those providing network resources for uploading files) are awarded "mojo," and those who are downloading files are required to contribute "mojo." This ad hoc system of currency recognizes that network storage and bandwidth are a big part of the cost of such a service, and thereby effectively eliminates the problem of freeloaders who consume endless bandwidth downloading files without giving anything back to the community as a whole. Will this ultimately solve the problem? It's hard to tell, but with its micropayment system, in its own way Mojo Nation does push the bounds of e-commerce a little bit further, and in the end that may prove to be a much more significant contribution than providing yet another new way to swap MP3 files. Mojo Nation software is available for Linux and Windows 98, ME, NT, and 2000. Macintosh support is likely to be added once OS X is released.


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