Giving it away

According to a recent analysis, 35% of all traffic on the internet today is done in a protocol called bittorrent. So this was probably developed by Microsoft, who’re making a zillion bucks on it, right? Wrong! Well, then it must’ve been created and marketed by some other big internet company, RIGHT? WRONG!

Bittorrent, which is a radically new way of transferring large amounts of data, which has the distinction of becoming MORE efficient, the more people use it, was created by one lone geek name of Bram Cohen.

Like many geeks in the ’90s, Cohen coded for a parade of dotcoms that went bust without a product ever seeing daylight. He decided his next project would be something he wrote for himself in his own way, and gave away free. “You get so tired of having your work die,” he says. “I just wanted to make something that people would actually use.”

“Give and ye shall receive” became Cohen’s motto, which he printed on T-shirts and sold to supporters.

He open sourced the whole thing, and there are now lots of bittorrent clients that use his technology and code. There’s a very interesting interview with Bram Cohen on Wired.

This technology is about to change the way we access media. It’s easy, user-friendly and unstoppable because since nobody owns it, you can’t sue to make it stop like they did with Napster and are doing to Kazaa.

Which just goes to show that one man’s work CAN change the world.

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