Monaco Media Forum: Peer-to-peer grows up

It looks like the industry is finally getting over its fear of peer-to-peer. Programmers and network operators understand the elegance of peer-to-peer. There was always a business paradox with centralised digital content distribution. The more successful you are, the higher your bandwidth bills are. But with peer-to-peer, every consumer becomes a distributor.

It was really interesting to see peer-to-peer companies trying new business models. Companies like Kontiki are setting up a legal peer-to-peer business, and Warner Brothers is launching a P2P service in Europe.

In Monaco, I met one of the developers behind Azureus. I’ve used their free BitTorrent Client. Azureus has now developed another service that uses its own seed servers in a legal BitTorrent distribution network. This allows companies to distribute high-quality video, huge files, without insanely high bandwidth costs. That’s the beauty of peer-to-peer. Seed servers help distribute the files. The distribution happens on the public internet, the files are stored not on central servers but on the customers personal computers. From the demo, it looked like BBC America is one of their clients.

AllPeers embeds peer-to-peer technology in the browser and allows people to distribute content directly to a group of friends. It is also using a system of micro-payments to allow musicians, movie makers and other artists to distribute their content, easily and cheaply. AllPeers makes a commission on the micropayments.

But I’m just having a brainstorm here. I have to look into how this works, but I’m wondering if I could use something like AllPeers to send video back to base when I’m in the field? They say that communications is encrypted with standard SSL, but I wonder how secure the file transmission is? I probably will have to do a little more research before I try to run this by our IT people.

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Monaco Media Forum: Creating video online

There is a theme running through the first session this morning: There are a lot of companies gunning for GooTube. Douglas Warshaw showed off Motionbox which definitely builds on YouTube. Just yesterday as I was uploading video to YouTube, I was wishing that they had some simple editing tools. All I wanted to do was to ‘top and tail’ the video, cut off the bit where I told the person I was interviewing that we were recording. Motionbox allows that.

The web is truly becoming a platform, and these new video services definitely show that. Motionbox generates a series of thumbnails that make scanning and editing video easier.

Douglas was pitching Motionbox to media companies who wanted to set up a service to take in videos from their audience. One of the most problems that companies face in opening up to a lot of video is evaluating all of the material. Creating a stream of thumbnails allow editors to quickly scan video.

Rodrigo Sepulveda-Schulz of allows companies or people to set up their own online TV channel. The tools were very elegant, especially when you consider that it was all done within a web browser. It’s was like embedding iMovie in a web browser. Before broadband, this would have been impossible, but it also showed how far interface design online is evolving.

Video clips are just drag-and-dropped into a channel schedule. Sites on can be ‘reskinned’ at the click of a button, just selecting a drop down menu, the entire look of the site changes. These tools are going to allow a lot of entrants into the online video business.

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