Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Many of you may be familiar and involved with what is known as file sharing communities. To me and I'm sure most people the words sharing and community have very postive connotations. For me this conjures up the image of a utopian society where everyone shares out of love for their fellow humans. If a study by two researchers Adar and Huberman which I came across in a BBC article (and I think was mentioned in Nabeel’s lecture) is anything to go by, my image is anything but the truth.

In their study of the file sharing network Gnutella (which popular file sharing programs such as Limewire rely), they found that 90% did not actually share, instead leaching off what they described as ‘powerusers’ the 10% that actually did share. This is quite a shocking tribulation for anyone who uses these file ‘sharing communities’ as it has to be questioned as to whether such a system is sutainable. This said, in my own experience I have to admit that I more than often try to avoid people uploading files off me because it uses some of my bandwidth of which I only get 1 gig a month. Know I look at this way, I’m really just a ‘leecher’ as well. The only time that I actually consistently let people upload off me is in the case of torrents, where I am forced to do so.

What this says to me is that this will be the future of file sharing, as in it’s present form where it is basically a ‘leeching’ network it has no future sustainability. Although in forcing people to share it eliminates that desirable view of a free and loving utopia, I guess this is the close we will be able to get to it for know, and if it can help us get the files we want, I’m happy.

Alisdair Hungerford-Morgan


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