Re: a neat hack - using HTTP servers *as* a distributed computer

David Long (
Thu, 15 Jan 1998 20:49:30 -0500

When planning on gratuitous use of bandwidth, why stop at solving
combinatorially hard problems, when one might be gaining merit instead?

My understanding of prayer wheels is that, unlike most religous concepts,
merit is susceptible to application of technology.

Instead of reciting a mantra, one can put it on a windmill, or waterwheel,
and have merit accumulated automagically. Modern technology is fine, too.
I understand that tibetian jitneys often have their hubcaps lined with
prayers, to gain merit with every revolution of the wheels. Dharma-Haven
has references to the use of microfilm to increase the number of mantras
per revolution* [1], and a set of compugeek prayer wheels [2] ("praying
with electrons you already have around the house")

Since merit (like heat?) is not so much directly accrued by the agent
who turns prayer wheels as diffused into the environment, perhaps sending
mantras around one's network would be reflected in reduced congestion
and increased interoperability. On the other hand, it may just mean
that one's network stands a better chance of being enlightened in its
next rearchitecture.

Perhaps the ability to make light offerings [3] means that we will be
able to make use of global fiber infrastructure [4] for more than mundane


* they say nothing about how merit scales with diameter/path length.
I first ran into this concept when approached by someone who wanted to know
how to configure his NaviServers such that they could send mantras across
the right links to provide a prayer wheel of global dimensions.