Once your credibility has been called into question in the media … you are done for. And that’s that.
Consider Dominique Strauss-Kahn for a moment. He may be out and about again, but the events of the past few weeks have spelled the end of his political career. Guilty or not, he has been convicted in the media and there is no way back, even if he is innocent.
So what do these politics have to do with technology …
Let’s turn the clock back to sometime in 2001, when Bram Cohen devised a data transfer protocol based on a highly distributed architecture. Put simply it’s the underlying technology of the most pervasive peer-to-peer file-sharing networks in the world.
Can a protocol be bad for that matter?
So, as you can guess, it is one of the driving forces of the piracy of software and media across the internet. So it’s really bad, isn’t it? Really? Can a protocol be bad for that matter? It’s been misused and subsequently garnered a really bad reputation. The net effect: It’s the biggest evil that the media industry has faced and it’s obviously been trialled found guilty in the eyes of the media companies, and naturally the public. Last week, I spoke to my engineering team about the feasibility of using BitTorrent to deliver changes and updates to our products, but the general consensus was that enterprises are going to be uncomfortable.
What the media and enterprises in general seem to be missing is that the BitTorrent protocol is actually amazingly robust. This is probably what makes it so successfull at transporting terabytes of illegal wares on a daily basis. So, Sony, Apple and Microsoft … out here in Africa we are getting better at using this thing called the internet, but we are still having teething problems especially when you consider that the access medium is not always wired (we use variations of 3G, and its EXPENSIVE). What that means is that disconnects and service interruptions are relatively common, and a real pain when you are downloading a 500MB+ update for whatever reason, because you have to do it three times over before you finally get some success.
Rather than fighting torrent usage, large software companies should welcome it into a legitimate paradigm and embed it into their update delivery mechanisms.This will not only save them on server infrastructure and bandwidth. Also, small business utilisation of shared software updates would be simplified without complex caching mechanisms.
Let me break that down a little, if these large software companies used some torrent mechanism, and your colleague sitting across the room from you downloaded an update, then you tried to fetch the same update, you would get it from him, while it is available rather than from the primary update servers.
Second chances are hard to come by. Let’s hope there is one for BitTorrent; it is its tenth birthday after all. As for Dominique Strauss-Kahn, well that’s an entirely different story.