Beaker is a project from Dat, a "grant-funded, open-source, decentralized data sharing tool." It's a browser that lets you easily create websites using Markdown, or fork any existing website to make it suit your needs, and then share those sites peer-to-peer, without the need for servers in the middle. Read the rest
Dominic Tarr is a developer who lives on a self-steering sailboat in New Zealand; he created Scuttlebutt, a secure messaging system that can run without servers, even without ISPs. Read the rest
Yesterday, Google announced "Youtube Go," an "offline first" version of the popular video service designed for the Indian market where internet coverage is intermittent, provided by monopolistic carriers that have a history of network discrimination, and where people have a wide variety of devices, including very low-powered ones. Read the rest
Cheap Internet of Things devices like Foscam's home CCTVs are designed to covertly tunnel out of your home network, bypassing your firewall, so they can join a huge P2P network of 7 million other devices that is maintained and surveilled by their Chinese manufacturer. Read the rest
Tommy Funderburk used to be a copyright troll whose company, Payartists, sent legal threats to people accused of copyright infringement, though they didn't represent any actual artists (the closest they came was in representing Frank Zappa's widow). Read the rest
The makers of Firechat, a wireless P2P chat app that works phone-to-phone over Bluetooth and wifi, say they've seen a surge of new users from Hong Kong's student demonstrators, who are locked in pitched battle with the territory's police as they fight for the right to choose HK's leaders without interference with Beijing, against a backdrop of growing wealth inequality. Read the rest
They want articles and experimental pieces exploring the relationship between hacking and gender, race and orientation. Read the rest
Scout writes, "Billions of people experience a severely-censored version of the Internet -- most famously in countries like China and Iran. Now there's something you can do about it." Read the rest
Some Bitcoin enthusiasts have announced a new project called Bitcloud. The idea is something like the old Mojo Nation P2P architecture, in which individual Internet users perform tasks for each other -- routing, storage, lookups, computation -- in exchange for very small payments.
The Bitcloud protocol uses Bitcoin-style accounting to allocate those microtransfers, along with Bitcoin-style proof-of-work (they call it "proof-of-bandwidth") and the authors suggest that the potential for profit by individual members will create enough capacity to replace a large number of centralized commercial services ("Youtube, Dropbox, Facebook, Spotify, ISPs") with "distributed autonomous corporations," that obviate the need for centralized control in order to supply anonymous, robust, free services to the public.
The idea is an interesting thought-experiment, at least. The idea of "agorics" -- using market forces to allocate resources on the Internet -- is an old one, and I remain skeptical that this produces optimal outcomes. That's because its proponents seem to treat market efficiency as axiomatic ("everyone knows markets work, and that's why we should make them the basis of network resource allocation") and their proposals are substantially weakened if you don't accept the efficient market hypothesis. Read the rest
Brandon Wiley -- a P2P developer I've known and respected for more than a decade -- writes, "The Operator news reader project was started in order to protect the most censored content on the Internet: news. Internet news has become a primary means of obtaining information in areas where broadcast media is censored. However, the increase prevalence of Internet filtering technology and its use for blocking access to news means that the people that are most dependent on Internet access for news are also the least likely to have it.
Operator News is an RSS news reader application which uses an adaptive cryptographic communication engine to circumvent Internet filtering which blocks access to news sources. Using covert communication channels, news content can be disguised as other sorts of traffic such as email, Skype, or chat. This is done automatically and requires no configuration from the user. The user simply sees their news appear in the application just as you'd expect. Read the rest
Ars Technica's Jon Brodkin reviews the new BitTorrent BitTorrent Sync, a peer-to-peer-based Dropbox replacement that's now in public alpha testing. BTSync uses the BitTorrent protocol to keep the files on several computers synchronized, and the actual file-transfers are robustly encrypted so that no one -- not BitTorrent Inc, not your ISP, and not a hacker -- can sniff them as they traverse the Internet and invade your privacy. There's no central server for the police to seize or for hackers or backhoes to knock offline, either. Brodkin's review is comprehensive and makes this sound like a hell of a product.
"Since Sync is based on P2P and doesn’t require a pit-stop in the cloud, you can transfer files at the maximum speed supported by your network," BitTorrent said. "BitTorrent Sync is specifically designed to handle large files, so you can sync original, high quality, uncompressed files."
In the pre-alpha testing that began in January, 20,000 users synced more than 200TB of data. BitTorrent Sync clients can be downloaded now for Windows, Macs, Linux desktops, and Linux-based network-attached storage devices. Mobile support will come later.
Setting the client up is easy. No account is required, but a randomly generated (or user-chosen) 21-byte key is needed to sync folders across computers. After installing the application and choosing a folder to sync you'll be given a string of random letters and numbers that should be typed into a second computer to sync the folder...
BitTorrent Sync creates private, peer-to-peer Dropbox, no cloud required Read the rest
Michael Geist sez,
The NPD Group response contains math errors for both non-P2P users (the total should be $192 not $191) and P2P users (the total should be $268 not $267), though perhaps this is due to rounding errors from the original data. More important, however, is a bigger math error in the chart as NPD Group significantly understates the difference between P2P and non-P2P users. In arriving at the grand total, it adds all the categories (physical CDs, paid downloads, subscription fees, merchandise, and concert tickets) plus the sub-total. In other words, it double counts the physical CDs, paid downloads, and subscription fees. The actual grand total of the five categories of spending is $206 per year for P2P users and only $138 for non-P2P users for a difference of 49.3 percent. There is obvious irony in NPD Group talking about the need for a licence to publish data only to get its math wrong, yet the real significance is that few would credibly argue that a nearly 50% increase in spending by P2P users can be simply chalked up to unsupported claims that P2P usage had no impact on consumer purchasing behaviour.
NPD Group Fails Basic Math: Data Shows P2P Users Spend Nearly 50% More on Music Than Non-P2P Users Read the rest
TorrentFreak's Enigmax does a great job of summarizing Copyright and Innovation: The Untold Story, a remarkable scholarly paper written by Rutgers law's Michael A. Carrier, forthcoming in Wisconsin Law Review. Carrier interviewed the 31 subjects for the paper: "CEOs, company founders, and vice-presidents from technology companies, the recording industry, and venture capital firms," and asked them to tell the story of the P2P wars and the music industry. The result is a very good, zippy, 61 pages that'll angry up your blood, with phrases like "Lawyers at the labels historically drove the digital agenda.
There was no one there with a truly entrepreneurial spirit.
Zero, zilch, zingo, nada. No one there whose entire initiative
was not to hang on to the past." and "Even more dramatically, each of the companies 'had a VP level person
called the ‘digital person’' who was 'the person who had a decent office and
no operational responsibility whatsoever.'"
Here's some of Enigmax's highlights:
Read the rest
It started with a drain on cash. Interviewees reported that venture capital funding for digital music “became a wasteland”, a “scorched earth kind of place” housing a “graveyard of music companies.” With the big labels choosing where and when to sue, funding was hard to come by.
Nevertheless, some innovators didn’t give up, although when the labels were through with them many probably wished they had. The report details instances where innovators tried to get label approval but found themselves in extremely difficult situations.
One recalled that the labels “don’t license you if you don’t have traffic” but once enough footfall is achieved then “they want to get paid for ‘infringement’ and the longer it takes to license you, the larger the ‘infringement’ number they can justify charging you.”
We need the crowd's help to fund development (or just to find awesome pro-bono developers) of a platform that facilitates peer production driven local food systems. Think Craigslist meets Etsy with the ethos and practices of couchsurfing all about homemade, home grown and artisinal food.
We're a small University of Michigan team and having already built and reached the coordination and reputation limits of a local food-exchange email group. We've got 5 days left to hit our all-or-nothing "tipping point" of $8,000 and hopefully reach our goal of $15,000.
Food swapping is a fast growing national movement with over 40 groups consisting of almost 7000 members who conduct P2P swaps in person. This is the same energy behind the decade long growth of local farmers markets, food trucks and organic food.
We're aiming to provide better coordination to allow existing communities to begin swapping with people they know and trust and gradually develop reputations within the broader local community, hopefully catalyzing organic growth driven by network effects.
help us build Real Good Food in your community
(Thanks, Devin!) Read the rest
Mark sez, "Charity Engine has a new twist on volunteer computing: using surplus, wasted PC resources to raise money for major charities including Oxfam, Amnesty, MSF and CARE - and also for huge prize draws for everyone running it. Based on UC Berkeley's famous BOINC software, the Charity Engine grid is hired to science and industry as a super-cheap supercomputer, then the profits given to the charities and volunteers. It's already paid out over $30,000. The app only uses a tiny bit of electricity and generates far more for the good causes - and the prize draws - than it costs to run. Free to download, Charity Engine is available now for PC and Mac." Read the rest
For ten years, Kickstarter founder former CTO Andy Baio has been compiling his "Pirating the Oscars" reports, which document which Oscar-nominated movies are available as downloads on P2P and other file-sharing services, measuring how effective the studios are at controlling leaks of "screeners" -- DVDs set to members of the Academy for review consideration. This year marks a turning point for the industry, as it ends a three-year-long trend of increased screener leaks.
However, Baio says, the studios have "won the battle and lost the war," as this year also marks the first year that 92 percent of the nominated films were "available as high-quality DVD or Blu-ray rips." As Baio notes, "If the goal of blocking leaks is to keep the films off the internet, then the MPAA still has a long way to go."
Read the rest
But the MPAA may have little to do with the decline. Oscar-nominated films could be coming out earlier in the year, making screeners less important.
Or maybe the interests between the mainstream downloader and industry favorites is diverging? If the Oscars are mostly arthouse fare and critical darlings, but with low gross receipts, they'll be less desirable to leak online. It would be very interesting to track the historical box office performance of nominees to see how it affects downloading. (Maybe next year!)
The continuously shrinking window between theatrical and retail releases may be to blame. After all, once the retail Blu-ray or DVD is released, there's no reason for pirate groups to release a lower-quality watermarked screener.
Further revelations from the YouHaveDownloaded BitTorrent logger: six infringing BitTorrent swarms included computers logged into the network of the official residence of French President Nicholas Sarkozy. Sarkozy, of course, pushed for the HADOPI law that allows whole households to be disconnected from the net if their network is implicated in three copyright complaints. Note that there's no proof that anyone who was downloading these files got enough of them via the Sarkozy network to turn into a recognizable video or audio file; nor does it mean they were a member of the Sarkozy household. But the HADOPI law doesn't make this distinction, and who am I to argue with Sarkozy's favorite Internet law? Read the rest