What do you think of when you think of Bit Torrent?
I think of the place to quickly download ISOs of Linux distributions. My coworker one cube over calls it “that pirate thing.” Most people probably agree more with him than me.
But it seems the creators have come up with a novel use for it, by adding social networking elements to a new client called Chrysalis.
It makes sense. If you’re creating content and sharing it, associating yourself with it probably will help people find it. Some of my train buddies make videos of their layouts and would rather share them some way other than uploading them to Youtube. Then their videos don’t get pulled for dumb reasons, and they can keep them in high resolution if they want. Many of them would also welcome a way to share high-resolution photographs of their prize finds. And it will only be a matter of time before they come up with even more ways to use it.
I’m not sure I’d call myself a vintage computer enthusiast, but I know where to find a bunch of them. And I know they’d love to use this to share old manuals, device drivers, and other oddities necessary to keep computers running long after the companies that made them quit supporting them or went out of business.
I can easily see communities of enthusiasts building around this. You’ll be able to find not only hard-to-find stuff, but also find other people to converse with who are interested in the same things.
And that’s good. Bit Torrent has a perception problem. It’s useful for doing things other than sharing copyrighted material with all comers, but that’s what people mostly associate it with. Lawyers try to get it shut down due to these uses, but a legitimate use will help cut down on that. VCRs were useful for copying movies, but they also opened up a whole new revenue stream for movies, one that was more profitable in the end than putting movies in theaters.
And I suspect people with special interests, sharing stuff of their own creation related to that interest with friends and acquaintances who share that interest, will help immensely in legitimizing the protocol. It might even make the world a better place.
ISPs may not like it because it’ll eventually cause Internet traffic to balloon even further, but they need to take the long view. It will make the Internet even more indispensable than it already is.