Distributed Systems

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What exactly do we mean by "Distributed" Systems?


Distributed systems = the existence of an horizontal system architecture where complex activities are accomplished in parallel by an high number of connected elements


Definition by Ezio Manzini at http://sustainable-everyday.net/manzini/?p=9


Description

"what the term distributed adds to the substantive to which it is related, is the idea that it has to be considered as a web of interconnected, autonomous elements, i.e. elements that are capable to operate autonomously, being, at the same time, highly connected with the other elements of the system.

In different words: what the adjective “distributed" indicated is the existence of an horizontal system architecture where complex activities are accomplished in parallel by an high number of connected elements (technological artefacts and/or human beings)." (http://sustainable-everyday.net/manzini/?p=9)


Drivers of Distributed Systems

"Considered as a whole, the diffusion of this particular system architectures can be seen as the result of two major drivers and of a new technological platform.

• techno-economic driver: the search for flexibility, effectiveness, waste reduction, system robustness and security.

• socio-cultural driver: the search for being creative, autonomous and responsible, as a basic human inclination, particularly developed in the contemporary society among a growing group of people .

• new technological platform: the present higher degree of connectivity and the possibility that it offers to manage very complex systems." (http://sustainable-everyday.net/manzini/?p=9)


Potential of Distributed Systems

"The perspective of the distributed systems could be an interesting model per se: a very productive line of socio-technical innovation to be explored in all its possibilities. But the same perspective becomes even more important considering its environmental, social, cultural, and political implications.

• socio-economic implications: bringing a large part of the value creation process at the local scale, distributed economies generate, and maintain, local wealth and local jobs. At the same time, intensifying local activities and interactions, they reinforce the social fabric and prepare a favourable ground to use at best, and to regenerate, the existing social resources.

• environmental implications: reducing the scale of their individual elements, distributed systems permit to use at best the local resources and to facilitate forms of industrial symbiosis (and, therefore, to reduce waste). In parallel to that, bringing the production nearer to both local resources and final users, they permit to reduce the average transport intensity of its activities (and, therefore, to reduce congestion and pollution).

• political implications: bringing the power of decision nearer to the final users and increasing the visibility of the systems on which decisions have to be taken, the distributed systems facilitate democratic discussions and choices. In particular, given that the advantages and problems that are related to a choice can be better compared, they facilitate individuals and communities in taking responsible decisions." (http://sustainable-everyday.net/manzini/?p=9)