This is the first post of our new blog from employees at BitTorrent, Inc. Our intent is to inform and participate in ongoing discussions about BitTorrent, but also to broaden those discussions to other topics that we find interesting and exciting.
The word “BitTorrent” means many things to many people – to us it is a company – an employer of about 20 people (mainly engineers) who work in San Francisco on innovative content distribution technology. We are broadly interested in the magic of user-contributed-infrastructure and technology that enables users to publish, download and control their digital content in an ever-more decentralized internet. We are not a media company. We are not a political party. We’re just geeks trying to push the boundaries of technical possibility.
The incredible recognition commanded by our brand carries with it a great deal of baggage. BitTorrent is first and foremost a content delivery “protocol” (a way that computers talk to each other) invented by Bram Cohen, who is still an employee. With BitTorrent, large files can be moved around the internet without the need for large servers to serve them. The protocol requires a special piece of software on your computer (a “BitTorrent client”) as well as special lightweight servers to direct traffic. The content is “served” in small pieces from user-to-user (“peer-to-peer”) without the need for big data centers to be available to meet demand.
BitTorrent the ecosystem
The fact that the technology works so well has meant that there are a number of organizations involved in developing BitTorrent technology or derivatives of it. Likewise there are many many more involved in making it operational. It’s a bit like web servers and web browsers. Some people make the technology itself, but then an astonishing number of people make use of the technology. For better or worse, the word “BitTorrent” has become a moniker for an entire ecosystem. It is used to label both the technology, but even more what people do with the technology, and even the sometimes disruptive impact of those activities either on service providers trying to control their networks or on digital content publishers trying to control their content.
For the purposes of this blog and this website, we would stress that we certainly speak with passion on behalf of our company. We also actively promote and champion BitTorrent technology – we’d hope to be seen as one of the more qualified voices, but not the only one. But while we feel we are certainly a “relevant” voice in the broader ecosystem, there are many other voices too. Some we agree with, and some we don’t. We cannot and do not represent them all.
— Simon —