So today I learned that the current state of the art in reliable scalable peer-to-peer network communications owes a lot to neighbours gossiping over the garden fence and the study of disease epidemics. Cool. There’s an obvious similarity to the way computer virii spread as well. Each message ‘infects’ the receiving node, which then spreads it to surrounding nodes. Once a node is infected with a message it becomes ‘dead’ to that message, thus preventing endless retransmission. The gossip part comes in when you need to pick up on missed messages. Each node chats to its neighbours along the lines of ‘Have you heard the latest news about Mabel down the road? No? Let me tell you…’
Just goes to show that whatever wondrous things humans imagine themselves inventing, nature got there first.