Business - Written by Jeff DeChambeau on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 9:20 - 1 Comment
Comcast invests in p2p startup; breaks my irony-meter
AP news is reporting that Comcast is putting money into a p2p-based HD video sharing site:
NEW YORK – Comcast Corp., which is under federal investigation for blocking some file-sharing traffic, is investing in a startup that delivers high-definition video using file-sharing techniques.
Seattle-based GridNetworks on Monday said that Comcast would make an unspecified investment in the company and collaborate on developing so-called peer-to-peer file-sharing techniques that are “friendly” to Internet service providers.
The article also states that Comcast plans to stop all bandwidth shaping (usually in the form of slowing down peer to peer traffic) by the end of the year, certainly a good step if they want any of their customers to use the GridNetworks service.
This move is yet another following an all to familiar pattern: companies resist the way technology is being used, then throw their hat in the ring completely ignoring the solutions that already exist, instead suggesting (what for many people is) a superfluous alternative (Napster vs. iTunes, YouTube vs. ComedyCentral Streaming, ThePirateBay vs. NetFlix).
The internet has already developed an extremely efficient way (pdf) for content to make its way into every nook and cranny using existing infrastructure. Rather than imposing new structures that require investment of time and energy by companies, why not play it hands off and instead add on a flat rate media fee to all broadband subscribers?
I recognize that this flat rate fee for content is not a new idea, but there are plenty of consumers that invest great amounts of their time and energy into disseminating content all over the internet, they organize and categorize it, and ensure its quality, and they do it all for free! Isn’t this pretty near the ideal situation? The only thing that’s missing is fair compensation.
Instead of applying band-aid solutions to healthy skin, a more practical approach would seem to be ensuring that content creators are fairly compensated. Why not put energy into systems that measure and track the content flowing through existing file sharing ecosystems, so that when a flat rate fee for content is added to everyones’ broadband, we know how best to divvy up the pie?
In his book Out of Control, Kevin Kelly puts forth one idea (among many!) that has stayed with me: when you’re dealing with complex networks, if you want them to thrive, sometimes you have to give up some control.
It would be great to see big content companies and ISPs embrace this idea, and just let their consumers take over, and do, and watch, what they love.
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