Archived entries for Social Web

BitTorrent, and BitTorrent Clients

I’m been investing a little time lately trying to learn more about BitTorrent. BitTorrent, a P2P distribution tool, is unique and potentially superior because it allows many people to download the same file without slowing down everyone else’s download. (More: Wikipedia | Y!Search). This background and client review will be a precursor to an entry on BlogTorrent that I’m still working on.

Traditional P2P distribution (Napster, Gnutella, Kazaa) let you download an entire file from another person on the network. BitTorrent is different. With BT, you initially download only a small map of the file. This map describes the many tiny files that comprise the complete file. This map file is called a tracker.

Once you’ve downloaded the tracker, a BitTorrent client takes over. The client coordinates the separate but concurrent downloading of each small file. It always choosing the fastest source. This is a faster and more stable process, capable of handling feature-length movies and other multi-gigabyte files.

Another distinction between BT and more traditional P2P technologies is that with BT, things go faster when more people are on the network. This is the opposite of other technologies, that bogged down on popular files. By definition with BitTorrent, if you’re downloading you’re also potentially uploading. The more people that want a particular file, the more people that have the file. More requesters equals more providers. And more providers equals a faster experience for everybody.

If you’re looking for a BitTorrent Client, I’ve posted personal research from my hours spent looking for the best one. I’m just sharing, I don’t profess to be an expert.


  • Current Version: 3.4.2 (Windows, plus python source code)
  • Release Date: April 4, 2004
  • Download: bittorrent-3.4.2.exe
  • File size: 2.71 MB
  • Homepage: Bram Cohen

Description and notes: Bram Cohen is the creator of BitTorrent, and made this client himself. It’s open source python.

BitTornado (Windows, plus python source code)

Description and notes: According to Slyck’s BT Guide, this is “[c]urrently the most popular and recommended modification to the [pure BitTorrent, above] source code.” The noteworthy tweak is the “ability to control the upload bandwidth used”.

Azureus Java BitTorrent Client (Cross-Platform, including Mac)

Description and notes: Azureus is a powerful, full-featured, cross-platform java BitTorrent client. It “offers multiple torrent downloads, queuing/priority systems (on torrents and files), start/stop seeding options and instant access to numerous pieces of information about your torrents” and is available in many many languages.

BitComet – a powerful C++ BitTorrent Client (Window)

Description and notes: “BitComet is a powerful, clean, fast, and easy-to-use bittorrent client. It supports simultaneous downloads, download queue, selected downloads in torrent package, fast-resume, chatting, disk cache, speed limits, port mapping, proxy, ip-filter, etc”. I more or less accidentally downloaded this one after desiring more features and a more comfortable look-n-feel that the original BitTorrent Client (by Bram Cohen, above)

(Thanks again to Slyck for info on the first two reviews, as well as background and format of reviews.)


While a few others exist, and are reviewed elsewhere, I think the software above represents the big players, and a wide range of interfaces and features.

I currently use BitComet. I’ll update you as/when that changes. Let me know your experiences and findings, and if you recommend any others.

Parting Note:

In my reading, I found this BitTorrent summary that caught my eye for it’s succinctness:

Bittorrent in a nutshell: A) Get a client, and B) Click on a .torrent link.

Enables good service to count against good advertising

But there is something about this idea of local searching [friend and friend-of-a-friend personal recommendation databases] that I fear people will miss, and that’s the fact that it enables good service to count against good advertising. The general trend in local business development has been the proliferation of branded chains, and decimation of the local, unbranded treasures. Charleston has a fine lingerie shop on King Street, but just down the block looms a much larger Victoria’s Secret. Relying mostly on word-of-mouth, local restaurants, plumbers and mechanics cannot afford more than a small-print mention in print or online listings. Yelp! or something like it might blunt this insidious trend.

Folksonomy and the ESP Game

Somebody in the physical world told be about Carnegie Mellons ESP Game. (I know it was a physical person because I found the url on a piece of paper on my desk — I’m not sure who though, if it was you, speak up in the comments below.) It’s fun itself, and also relevant to a new meme that’s been floating about lately: “bottom-up social classification”.

In the same week as I was tipped to the ESP Game, I attended a brownbag lunch at work discussing meta data, primarily as it applies to photos. Of note was the “community classification” offered by the photo service Flickr. Obviously, classification and meta data are crucial as the amount of information continues to skyrocket.

How to do it is much more difficult than identifying the need.

This “bottom-up social classification” idea has been generating a bunch of conversation lately, nicely summarized by Gene. This concept has been coined a folksonomy by Thomas.

You can read more about Folksonomy in thoughtful posts by Victor, Jess, Stewart and Alex.

So, the ESP Game is pretty similar, which is why I’ve combined these posts. The ESP Game is a Java-based game that facilitates two people viewing a single image at the same time. You can read about how to play, but basically two people are looking at the same image. They both type labels describing the picture. When they’ve both identified the same label, a match is declared and both players earn points. The points are the reward to the humans — the high-quality, double-human-confirmed keyword/label associated with an image is the reward to the system that CMU is building.

(Previously identified labels for a specific picture are then taboo words, and aren’t allowed to be used in the game. This ensures that additional — generally more precise — labels are continually identified and captured.)

They’ve already collected 3.726 million human-confirmed labels. I’ll let them describe the value of this:

Labeling an image means associating word descriptions to it, as shown below. Computer programs can’t yet determine the contents of arbitrary images, but the ESP game provides a novel method of labeling them: players get to have fun as they help us determine their contents. If the ESP game is played as much as other popular online games, we estimate that all the images on the Web can be labeled in a matter of weeks!

Having proper labels associated to each image on the Internet would allow for very accurate image search, would improve the accessibility of the Web (by providing word descriptions of all images to visually impaired individuals), and would help users block inappropriate (e.g., pornographic) images from their computers.

Help out and have fun.

Integrated Web Design: Social Networking — The Relationship between Humans and Computers is Coming of Age

Molly Holzschlag writes another nice article for, this time about Social Networking.

don’t think anyone could have properly envisioned the social explosion that weblogging would become. Now, technologists and designers are becoming aware that the tools being developed for the weblogger offer real solutions to real web design problems far beyond the vanity plate of a weblog and are in fact part of the social networking phenomenon.

Are we leaving people out that should have easier access to social networks? I think about the comment that Matt Haughey once made about how the community web site Metafilter was purposely made difficult to navigate to keep out the less-technically-inclined. Do we risk controlling communities too tightly? Who makes such determinations?

Social Software Ideas

Social Software ideas | A Whole Lotta Features

Social Software ideas

December 30, 2003

While social software may be the internet revolution du jour among venture capitalists, as a user I’m still waiting for the killer social software app that lives up to all the market hype. Recently I’ve been thinking about how the current crop of options could be improved upon, or at the very least, how they could be leveraged to be something useful for users. I’ve come up with a few ideas, some half-baked, others fully baked. I offer them here in the hopes that someone, somewhere already built it or would like to build it.

Colloquial mapping
- Yahoo Maps + Slashdot

Geographical opinion systems
- Epinions + Friendster

Collaborative consumed media
- Friendster + ??? (some sort of media management service)

Reputation management ideas
- Multi-variate reputation management

I’m sure this has probably been posted before, but they’re four pretty thoroughly thought out ideas. As I’ve mentioed before, social won’t stand on it’s own, but combined with other services it can revolutionize things anew.

Visual Org Chart Tool

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