"One can see the free software movement as a precusor for a "free hardware" or "free wetware" movement--one that will provide free libraries of designs for biological or nanotechnological products that replicators can be programmed to churn out."
Time travelers would sometimes send themselves messages in the far future. They had to be kept someplace safe; you also need to make sure that they are not opened prematurely; that might cause a paradox.
It is an unusual package delivery system. The business model of most such systems is based on the shortness of the delivery time; this system is based on the length of the delivery time - sometimes many millennia. See also Time Capsule from the same novel.
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