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along with supporting the new take on peer-to-peer provided by k2b, kast supports a new feature called "recommendations". No other p2p file sharing system does anything quite like this.

recommendations can be sent by channel owners to their subscribers, and they do what their name implies: they recommend a channel. When thinking about k2b, you probably imagine recommending good channels to your friends (through email or chat), so what is the big deal? What makes kast's built-in support for recommendations special?

sending recommendations through k2b channels leverages k2b's heavy-duty signatures to ensure that recommendations can be trusted. Thus, if you trust a channel owner's reputation (even if you do not know him or her), and that channel owner puts his or her reputation behind a recommendation for another channel, you can trust that recommendation. If you trust that channel owner's judgment and taste, you can feel relatively sure that the recommended channel is a good channel.

recommendations also allow one person to establish a trusted, virtual identity in an anonymous way. For example, consider alice, an anonymous k2b channel owner. After starting one channel and gaining the trust of her subscribers (who learned about her channel from the prebroadcast catcher or from her anonymous website), alice can start new channels and recommend them to her subscribers. Perhaps these new channels will be more specific than her original channel (like alice_fiction, alice_poetry, and alice_paintings), so subscribers can pick channels that closely match their interests. In her recommendation comments, alice can attest to the fact that she owns these new channels. If the subscribers trust alice, they can trust that she owns these new channels too. If alice has sent high-quality content on her original channel, she is likely to send content of equal quality on her new channels.

of course, if a recommendation turns out to be bad advice after all, you can always unsubscribe from the recommended channel, but your opinion of the recommender's judgment might go down. How likely will you be to listen to recommendations from that channel owner in the future?

but recommendations in kast can take us much further.

the web of trust

how much do you trust a channel owner? Consider alice, an anonymous channel owner whose reputation hinges entirely on her channel's content. If you have been subscribed for five days, and alice has consistently sent quality content, how much do you trust her? If you saw three months full of good content, how much more would you trust her?

if you trust alice, how much do you trust her recommendations? If alice recommends eve, how much do you trust eve? If eve then recommends helen, how much do you trust helen?

if alice recommends eve, who recommends helen, and helen sends spam, how much does this tarnish alice's reputation?

helen's reputation is certainly tarnished when she sends spam. eve recommended helen, so eve's judgment should be called into question somewhat. Then what was alice doing recommending someone with bad judgment? Her judgment should also be questioned, but her reputation might still be seen as better than the reputations of eve or helen.

recommendations carry weight

over time, channel owners with solid reputations will learn to treat recommendations seriously, since those who take recommendations lightly will not have solid reputations.

how much would you need to trust someone before you recommend them to your subscribers?