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
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.