Producing Participatory Media
Week 9 - March 20
Topics:The Official BitTorrent Home Page
Wired 13.01: The BitTorrent Effect
Azureus: Java BitTorrent Client
Peer to Peer Distribution
Peer to Peer Distribution (BitTorrent)
Distributing large files across the internet has always been a challenge. While the internet itself is decentralized most content on the internet is served from a single location to many clients. In a sense, using the internet in this manner is akin to broadcasting. Unfortunately, as is not the case with broadcasting the more people that "consume" any particular piece of content drive up the cost of hosting that content. Bandwidth costs money.
Peer to Peer file sharing networks were created in part to alleviate this problem. Unfortunately most of the peer to peer file sharing networks still contained remnants of the broadcast scenario. For instance, Napster ran a service that didn't host the content but had a central service to track where content is available on the network. Several of the Napster clones while getting better at true distributed content distribution still had some remnants of the original Napster model.
Enter BitTorrent. Bram Cohen, developed BitTorrent as a way around these problems. He released it open source and it has quickly become the de-facto means for peer to peer delivery of media content on the internet.
Some BitTorrent Services/Trackers:
Public Domain Movie Torrents
Some (perhaps less legal) torrents:
Recently many of the BitTorrent/TV trackers have been shutdown by the MPAA (Supernova, et al..). This doesn't spell the end of BitTorrent by any means (see Hollywood Wants BitTorrent Dead). Because BitTorrent is not centralized and anyone can run a tracker and the fact that it is open source means that it will continue being used for both legitimate and illegitimate ways for a long time to come. I believe that the MPAA cracking down means more opportunity for independent producers and tracker operators for greater exposure, especially as the technology becomes easier to use and integrated with more and more applications.
Recent Legal Actions:
Spain outlaws P2P filesharing
Torrentfreak >> Torrent sites under attack
MPAA Press Release
Hollywood Wants BitTorrent Dead
BitTorrent + RSS = Broadcatching
Enter RSS.. Of course, using RSS with torrent enclosures you can distribute your media ala podcasting and videoblogging. This reduces the strain on your bandwidth and creates a more equal playing field for all.
Using the same means for including audio and video enclosures in RSS feeds for Movable Type/WordPress we can add BitTorrent enclosures.
See: MT-Enclosures (for MT users).
<enclosure url="http://dv.open4all.info/bblog/torrent_files/flea.mov.torrent" length="2422" type="application/x-bittorrent"/>
Applications that read RSS feeds and automatically download torrent enclosures.
RSS Import Plugin for Azureus
WritTorrent Various BitTorrent utlities
Buttress - Bittorrent RSS application
Video Blogging Aggregators that support torrents
Broadcatching - Wikipedia
engadget - How-To: BroadCatching using RSS + BitTorrent to automatically download TV shows