Bandwidth as a currency and Free Software as a strategy. Tribler: from Europe to Harvard.

Read Researchers Aim To Make Internet Bandwidth A Global Currency over at Lockergnome. I thought I wrote before about Tribler but I didn’t find anything on my archive so let me do it now.
Tribler is peer-to-peer software for video file sharing that has a basic understanding of human friendships, of user tastes in content, and of Internet connectivity between users. Tribler is also a research project At Delft University of Technology and De Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Most of the Tribler team is funded by the I-Share project, which is part of the Dutch Freeband Program. Freeband itself is funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs of The Netherlands.
Why it is interesting? It is an innovative way of using P2P sharing and online videos, it comes from Europe (and not US as usual), it is a University research project (and not a cool, hacky, just born, extraslim californian startup as usual) but really works and funded with public money from the state (and not from venture capitalists, sadly not that spread in Europe), it decided to adopt a Free Software strategy since the beginning (again not very usual).
I tried Tribler some months ago and it is a cool piece of software (you can keep a list of video friends and a lot of other social features but you can also see and rate YouTube videos, for example) and has the potential to be extended and improved in many ways.
Being Free Software, people in Harvard decided to extend it in order to test some other research hypothesis: mainly understanding how bandwith can be used as a global currency.
From the article on Lockergnome:

The researchers envision an e-commerce model that connects users to a single global market, without any controlling company, network, or bank. They see bandwidth as the first true Internet “currency” for such a market. For example, the more a user uploads now (i.e. earns) and the higher the quality of the contributions, the more s/he would be able to download later (i.e. spend) and the faster the download speed. More broadly, this paradigm empowers individuals or groups of users to run their own “marketplace” for any computer resource or service.

The researchers concede that the greatest challenge to any peer-to-peer backed e-commerce system is implementing proper regulation in a decentralized environment. To keep an eye on the virtual economy, Parkes and Pouwelse envision creating a “web of trust,” or a network between friends used to evaluate the trustworthiness of fellow users and aimed at preventing content theft, counterfeiting, and cyber attacks. To do so they will use a feature already included in the enhanced version of the Tribler software, the ability for users to “gossip” or report on the behavior of other peers. Their eventual goal is to find a way to create accurate personal assessments or trust metrics as a form of internal regulation.

The enhanced Tribler version is redistributed by Harvard, choosing to release it as Free Software was very clever from the Dutch Universities which can benefit from more people involved. Great choice!
If you use Ubuntu GNU/Linux (you should!), installing the standrad version of Tribler is an easy charm.
1. Start the package manager from the System / Administration menu
2. Open the Repositories menu from the Settings menu
3. Click on the Third-Party Software tab
4. Click on the Add+ button
5. Type deb feisty main
6. Click the Add Source+ button
7. Close the Repositories menu
8. Click the Reload button to retrieve the package info from the Tribler repository
9. Click Search and search for “tribler”
10. Mark Tribler for installation by clicking
11. Ignore the warning about authentication, it is harmless
12. Install Tribler by clicking the “Apply” button at the top

Or if you are a command-liner, 3 quick steps:
sudo echo "\ndeb feisty main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tribler

One thought on “Bandwidth as a currency and Free Software as a strategy. Tribler: from Europe to Harvard.

  1. Marco Fabbri

    Thanks for the cue, Paolo! Beyond being an interesting project per se, your article also points out some compelling point of interest in developing open source software, and open source “business models”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *