BitTorrent LIVE
By Rick Hoar
May 5, 2013

We’re very excited to announce our new carriage on the BitTorrent LIVE platform, currently in beta testing. As our New Media streaming video laboratory known as The Lone Star continues to evolve, we’re always looking for more robust and sustainable infrastructure innovations to champion, and BitTorrent’s newest peer-to-peer solution certainly seems to answer that mandate.

Those of you visiting the site may not notice the usual commercial pre-rolls and looping video our prior streaming service afforded. In fact, if you’re on a Mac or a PC, you’ll simply see a message prompting you to download and install the free BitTorrent LIVE application before any media will load in our window.

We like to make it as easy as possible to see the LIVE programming we produce on The Lone Star, but this new method of propagating HD video is just too powerful to ignore. Whereas traditionally our programming is transmitted to a central, third-party server that mirrors to individual viewers one-by-one (at great cost supported by unsolicited commercial interruptions), BitTorrent LIVE uses a portion of each viewer’s upstream bandwidth to duplicate the stream for subsequent viewers.

Essentially, this process flips the conventional top-down distribution model on its head, with an infinitely scalable architecture that actually improves in quality based on the size of the viewing audience! Better still, because the community supports itself, there aren’t any third-party advertisements required to support the bandwidth (at least so far).

While this system is still in beta, mobile operating system viewers (iPhones, Android, etc.) don’t yet have an available app by which to participate. The BitTorrent engineers certainly intend to expand to all platforms eventually, but at present, there doesn’t seem to be anything available for our on-the-go viewers. Rest assured though, we will continue to post-produce our shows as downloadable podcasts for you to view anywhere, on-demand.

Also, it’s probably worth commenting here that peer-to-peer technology and the BitTorrent name have both been the victim of bad press in the mainstream media in the past, particularly due to the widespread (albeit illegal) use by many individuals to pirate digital media. The decentralized nature of this technology is so difficult to police that its many underground exploits have forced traditional distribution corporations to protest its growth as a last resort.

While the illicit use of any technology is cause for controversy, the benefits of a survivable, scalable communications network are undeniable. We would love to see all digital communication grow to become peer-to-peer for the very purpose of eliminating traditional hierarchical controls and ensuring free speech to all who connect. Hopefully, this will be another meaningful step into that frontier, and we look forward to streaming with you.