A news release issued by Harvard University last week, was distilled by the New Scientist, and produced the title: Bandwidth could be a new global ‘currency’. Tasty little soundbite and prime candidate for a few front pages, you might think ? You’d be right.
Tribler, lest it be forgotten, was developed by a team of researchers from two Dutch Universities – Delft University of Technology (one of the top tech institutions in Europe) and De Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, who launched a beta version in March last year. It is good news that Harvard has teamed up with Tribler though, a leg-up for a system with high ideals, designed to encourage fair sharing, wont go amiss.
“Using bandwidth as a kind of currency helps to encourage better habits,” said Dr Johan Pouwelse, an assistant professor at Delft University of Technology, Amsterdam and co-creator of Tribler. Dr Pouwelse has been working with associate professor David Parkes from Harvard University to add an accounting system to Tribler to encourage users to upload as often as they download. “In our model your TV would use “TV watching minutes”, our form of P2P currency, to download content,” said Dr Pouwelse. “The TV would connect directly to the internet and provide video on demand in HDTV quality. “After you watch a program on TV, the system would automatically share this program during the night with other people, until your ‘TV watching minutes’ credit is healthy again,” he said.
The Tribler software (free) combines a modified version of the BitTorrent file-trading algorithm and adds on YouTube and LiveLeak, plus the VLC player and codecs. It also has a thing called intelligent taste recognition.
Social networking technology is also inlaid which helps to police the system and encourage fair sharing. â€œIn the case of sharing and playing video, our network-based system already allows a group of â€˜friendsâ€™ to pool their collective upload â€˜reserveâ€™ to slash download times”, says the Harvard statement – p2pnet
Will cutting down on download times be a big enough carrot to accept the policing, however friendly ? “the ability for users toâ€œgossipâ€ or report on the behaviour of other peers. Their eventual goal is to find a way to create accurate personal assessments or trust metrics as a form of internal regulation.” But then, I suppose that’s more or less what social networks have been doing for a while now…no?