Filesharing a waste of time

Well over a year ago Sameer Parekh called out an obvious flaw in my argument:

I find it funny when I read technologists arguing that downloads of movies aren’t a problem because they’re slow. When do technologists talk about how technology sucks and isn’t going to improve? When the improvement of that technology hurts their public relations effort!

I noticed Parekh’s blog again recently, which reminded me to respond. I find it interesting (but somewhat tangential) that in the interim centralized web-based video “sharing” ( and many similar sites) has taken off while decentralized P2P filesharing has languished.

Anyhow, I do not argue that P2P filesharing is a waste of time merely because it takes a really long time to download a movie. Even if downloads were instantaneous the experience would be trying. Making it easy and certain for an average user to find a complete copy and find and install the video codecs to be able to watch the copy is not something that improved bandwidth will fix automatically. They are social and software problems, which tend to not improve at the rate bandwidth and similar increase.

In the future when today’s huge downloads are (nearly) instantaneous, they’ll be nearly instantaneous via underground P2P or via centralized download services. The only people who will struggle with the former are the very poor, those who enjoy fighting with their computers, and those who seriously miscalculate the value of their time. Unless the latter are encumbered with DRM so frustrating that there is no convenience advantage to using a centralized service.

By that time I expect most entertainment to be some combination of supercheap, server-mediated and advertising.

One Response

  1. […] This is what has excited about decentralized systems long before P2P filesharing. […]

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