“BitTorrent is a protocol (a set of rules and description of how to do things) enabling users to download files quickly. Users downloading the file can also upload (distribute) parts of it simultaneously. BitTorrent is often used for distribution of very large files, very popular files and files available for free, as it is a lot cheaper, faster and more efficient to distribute files using BitTorrent than a regular download“. (BitTorrent, 2014)
BitTorrents targeted audience is everyone that has access to the internet. It works as a peer to peer sharing system, a user puts up a link or file to be downloaded, another user downloads this file whilst also uploading it too. This process called ‘seeding’ allows quicker downloading of popular files. Peer to Peer sharing creates a strong relationship between consumer and technology, one cannot function without the other. Janey Gordon explains the use of peer to peer sharing during the SARS outbreak; “During February and March, the people of Guangdong exchanged information via their mobile phones about the location of outbreaks of SARS and possible ways of alleviating the symptoms…Those who received information passed it on to other family and friends, thus dispersing the information widely“. (Gordon, 2007)
Recently torrenting has targeted the academic sector, now not only targeting popular material but also accredited sources. AcademicTorrents allows researchers to upload datasets, articles and other research material. The site runs its own tracker and supports web-seeds as well, which guarantee that files are available at all times. (Mesko, 2014)
Gatekeepers target websites such as BitTorrent and try and regulate the technology from sharing breeched copyright material. The media industry (film, television and music) try to regulate the illegal downloading of their material. Despite this, the gatekeepers are weak or non-existent.
Anyone can broadcast any message or file directly to BitTorrent. BitTorrent states “BitTorrent is purely a content distribution method, just like a web browser, and similarly, does not incorporate any technology to monitor or restrict your activity. There is also nothing in BitTorrent that prevents anyone from seeing your IP address. Take care to follow your country’s laws concerning copyrighted content“. (BitTorrent 2014)
BitTorrent, beginners guide, viewed on 3/4/2014, http://www.bittorrent.com/help/guides/beginners-guide
Mesko Bertalan (2014), Torrent Site For Academics: Brilliant!, viewed on 3/4/2014, http://scienceroll.com/2014/02/03/torrent-site-for-academics-brilliant/
Gordon, Janey (2007), The Mobile Phone and the Public Sphere: Mobile Phone Usage in Three Critical Situations, Convergence 13/3 Pages: 307-319, viewed on 3/4/2014, https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/152347/mod_resource/content/2/Gordon%2C%20J.%20-%20The%20mobile%20phone%20and%20the%20public%20sphere.pdf