BitTorrent – An open platform

Media platforms are classed into two sections; locked appliances and generic platforms more commonly referred to as open and closed platforms. Closed platforms have complete control over the platform, users and content. Open platforms are as their name suggests free and open. Users are allowed, even encouraged to change, adapt and develop new software which can then be integrated into the platform.

Closed platform’s are safer for company’s as consumers have no say in the development of the platform, whereas open platform are more exposed. Users can embed code in the platform that can hack other users or shut down the platform entirely. “Consumers are learning how to use these different media technologies to bring the flow of media more fully under their control and to interact with other users” (Jenkins, 2004).

The most well known closed platform is Apple’s IPhone. “Rather than a platform that invites innovation, the iPhone comes preprogramed. You are not allowed to add programs to the all-in-one device that Steve Jobs sells you. Its functionality is locked in, though Apple can change it through remote updates. Indeed, to those who managed to tinker with the code to enable the iPhone to support more or different applications, Apple threatened (and then delivered on the threat) to transform the iPhone into an iBrick” (Zittrain, 2008). Apple do not allow the user to change their devices and if a user is caught modifying their IPhone, Apple simply switches off the device and it is useless.

BitTorrent is an generic platform that allows user to download whatever content is online via peer to peer ‘seeding’, but users are also allowed to tamper with code. Being an illegal downloading site, BitTorrent is therefore more prone to being disengaged from the internet. BitTorrent has previously been shut down by the United States Homeland Security Services because they gained access to the coding system and were able to shut down the platform.



Despite being shut down, the open nature of the platform allowed BitTorrent to be re-establish in a matter of days by changing around the HTML code. Company’s especially in the digital age where convergence is vital, may need to look at open platforms that encourage peer to peer sharing like BitTorrent in higher regard. “So far, the recording industry has responded to the emergence of peer-to peer technologies through legal action and name-calling rather than developing new business plans or reconceiving consumer relations” (Jenkins, 2004). Open platforms despite the negativity are becoming more and more popular, whilst the demand for a closed platform decreases.

Jenkins, Henry (2004), The cultural logic of media convergence, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Volume 7(1): 33–43. viewed on 29/3/2014,

Zittrain, J. (2008) “Introduction”. In J. Zittrain The Future of The Internet And How To Stop It (p. 1-5) New Haven: Yale University Press. viewed on 29/3/2014,

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