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Wikimedia Trying P2P Video Distribution 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the spin-this-one,-mpaa dept.
bigmammoth writes "One potential problem with campaigns and programs to increase video on Wikimedia sites is that video is many times more costly to distribute than text and images. The P2P-Next consortium has created an HTML5 streaming BitTorrent browser add-on to try and help experiment with ways to reduce the costs of video distribution. As described in a Wikimedia tech blog post, once the SwarmPlayer add-on is installed, and when using the multimedia beta, video on the site will be streamed via the hybrid HTTP / BitTorrent SwarmPlayer. For smooth playback the Swarmplayer downloads high priority pieces over HTTP while getting low priority bits from the BitTorrent swarm. The same technology is available for experimentation with any site via the standalone version of the Kaltura HTML5 Media library."
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Wikimedia Trying P2P Video Distribution

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  • Great (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CarpetShark (865376) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:16AM (#33720592)

    This is good news. It'll:

    a) make it a lot easier to compete with the likes of youtube.
    b) be very easy to take advantage of, once integrated into CMS's.
    c) make it a lot harder to argue that P2P is only something that pirates use, rather than simply modern technology.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      a) Wikimedia is (allegedly [wikipedia.org]) encyclopaedic media, whilst youtube is cats. Not direct competition.
      b) My outbound connection is extremely limited.
      c) The people who need to be convinced fight against "websites" and "torrents", but they would have a real "Oh my God - it's full of data!" moment if they understood what they were talking about. It's all just bits. Encrypted bits even more so.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by icebraining (1313345)

        I'm pretty sure this player can be used for more than encyclopaedic media, even for cats. As long as it's free to anyone to put on their sites, it's a competition on the Youtube business.

        Also, even if we think it's absurd, people see Colour in data and that won't change soon.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sakdoctor (1087155)

          people see Colour in data

          I don't even see the colours anymore. All I see SYN, SYN, ACK, ACK, FIN, ACK

      • a) Wikimedia is (allegedly [wikipedia.org]) encyclopaedic media, whilst youtube is cats. Not direct competition.

        No, you're confusing Wikimedia with Wikipedia. Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia. Wikimedia Commons [wikimedia.org] is a collection of media that complements Wikipedia. Wikimedia is a non-profit organisation that runs a large number of open content wikis, and was founded by the same people as (and used to share some infrastructure with) Wikia, which is a for-profit wiki-hosting company.

        An open content archive of cats doing funny things would be within the scope of Wikimedia's goals.

      • d) What if I want to grab a video that nobody is seeding? This happens to me a lot on torrents I grab from isohunt. For example I tried to get "The Odd Couple" but it got stuck at 5% and never went any further. I imagine the problem would be even worse for unpopular encyclopedic videos.

        >>>"video is many times more costly to distribute than text and images."

        It doesn't have to be "many" times costlier. I routinely share 25-minute episodes of Penn&Teller with friends via email, and they are

        • What if I want to grab a video that nobody is seeding? This happens to me a lot on torrents I grab from isohunt. For example I tried to get "The Odd Couple" but it got stuck at 5% and never went any further. I imagine the problem would be even worse for unpopular encyclopedic videos.

          HTTP will still be an option - if it can find seeds, great, if not, it'll work like today. No loss for the user.

          It doesn't have to be "many" times costlier. I routinely share 25-minute episodes of Penn&Teller with friends vi

          • >>>I wouldn't want to watch that.

            53 kb/s. No worse than when we watched videos back in the days of dialup (either 28k or 56k). The point is that videos don't have to take up a lot of space if you make them SD quality.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Also, it's often hard to keep a YouTube video, and I'm not always online. There's a nature film called "The Bear", for instance, that's a keeper, but it's hard to save the stream.

    • c) make it a lot harder to argue that P2P is only something that pirates use, rather than simply modern technology.

      But... but... I thought that only evil pedo-terrorist pirates are using Torrent, to siphon the hard gained profits out of the pocket of the poor record- / motion picture- industry !~

      More seriously : I'm actually surprised that it took so much time until someone decided to implemented it. Leveraging P2P to offload server load for user-made and -uploaded videos (just like it's already used to offload bandwidth requirement for distributed TV - like torrentocracy - and for upgrades - like in WoW. ) just make pe

  • by Idimmu Xul (204345) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:31AM (#33720628) Homepage Journal

    Why not just use Youtube to host the videos, after archiving them in a Wikimedia store?

    Or is this more about control than openness? What value does hosting them at Wikimedia have over Youtube?

    Youtube isn't that restrictive as long as you aren't infringing copyright..

    • by fph il quozientatore (971015) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:44AM (#33720668) Homepage

      Why not just use Youtube to host the videos, after archiving them in a Wikimedia store? Or is this more about control than openness? What value does hosting them at Wikimedia have over Youtube?

      1) less intrusive ads
      2) you would be relying on a commercial third-party, which is bad. What if Youtube suddenly decides to go pay-per-view? What if it closes?
      3) you, and not Google, should get to decide what is "fair use"

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        3) you, and not Google, should get to decide what is "fair use"

        Doubly important in the case of Wikipedia - whose "fair use" justification is frequently "we couldn't find an image usable under the normal interpretations of fair use, so we used this one anyhow".

        • Wikipedia - whose "fair use" justification is frequently "we couldn't find an image usable under the normal interpretations of fair use, so we used this one anyhow"

          As far as I can tell, all non-free media on English Wikipedia, other than WMF logos, is supposed to be an excerpt (factors 3 and 4) used in context of commentary on the image's subject (factor 1), and the subject has to be of a nature that free images cannot be produced (factor 2). Most of these are of A. a notable non-free work of authorship or B. a notable person who is dead or extraordinarily reclusive. Can you cite specific abuses of fair use on Wikipedia so that I can file an IFD?

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        3) you, and not Google, should get to decide what is "fair use"

        Why, Google are the ones who will get sued, not you.

    • by icebraining (1313345) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:45AM (#33720670) Homepage

      Not being at the whims of a private company that can do what they please with the videos, including censoring?

      It's not about Wikimedia having control, it's about not giving control to some company. Bittorrent puts us all in control.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Lazareth (1756336)

      That's quite naive. First of all youtube would ban a lot of media that wikimedia would not (a lot of biology media regarding human anatomy for instance...) secondly youtube is of the stance that "there's no such thing as fair use".

    • by tepples (727027)

      Youtube isn't that restrictive as long as you aren't infringing copyright

      In the case of one of my videos that criticized the practices of The Tetris Company, it took YouTube substantially longer than the standard 10 to 14 business days specified by the DMCA to handle my counter-notice.

  • It will make it much harder to use Wikipedia as a reference. You will want to look up something quickly and be presented with four our five possibly relevant 10-minute videocasts on the subject.
    • I hope they won't go the route of a lot of news sites and make stuff that should be text video. I hate looking at a headline that grabs my attention only to find out it's video(when it could have just as well been text). I'm not always in a position where I can watch video, so having text is much better.
      • It's a wiki. Someone can upload a transcript. If you're lucky, it might even be in a timed text format such as LRC or SRT that can also serve as subtitles.
      • by kiwix (1810960)

        I hope they won't go the route of a lot of news sites and make stuff that should be text video.

        Wikipedia is all about collaborative editing. As long as making a collaborative video is out of reach, they will stick to text.

    • by Abstrackt (609015)

      It will make it much harder to use Wikipedia as a reference. You will want to look up something quickly and be presented with four our five possibly relevant 10-minute videocasts on the subject.

      Which is especially awkward if you're part of the population that only has access to dialup. Slashdot already takes nearly a minute to load on my connection and it takes nearly half an hour to download a YouTube video, I can just imagine how well WikiYouTubePedia would work.

      • by tepples (727027)

        Which is especially awkward if you're part of the population that only has access to dialup.

        AT&T covers 97 percent of the United States. What part of what country doesn't have satellite or EDGE by now?

  • With Chrome... (Score:3, Informative)

    by kodr (1777678) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:38AM (#33720650)
    "It is unfortunately not available for your browser"
  • P2P is good for content which everybody wants right now but what about the situation where you have an encyclopedia full of videos and few of them are accessed by different browsers in any given day? Client side caches can't hold on to this stuff for ever. I wonder if there is any benefit from using P2P in this case.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is pretty much the right idea. Say CNN mentions some hot topic, a bunch of wikinerds go update that topic, and the people who don't want to read can watch a video on it. If only one or two people are watching it, no advantage, but if thousands of people are... then the bandwidth isn't hosed in a few seconds.

      I wish more software actually worked this way, the "outbound bandwidth" being consumed is not an issue because once you have it, you're not sharing it forever, just for the length of time it takes t

    • by bersl2 (689221) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @05:09AM (#33720726) Journal

      Didn't you read that this is a hybrid system? If there are no seeders, everything will come over HTTP.

      Jeez, people really aren't even bothering to read even the summaries now.

      • No I understand that, I just question the benefit of P2P at all for the wiki. I doubt that it will have many videos popular enough to benefit from this type of distribution, and I doubt P2P would save wikimedia much bandwidth.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bersl2 (689221)

          The worst-case performance probably isn't appreciably worse than it is now, and the best-case performance is much better, so the average is probably at least a little bit better. Furthermore, getting code like this into more people's browsers can increase the accessibility of the technology for other sites. So even if it's a dead-end for Wikimedia, it's a potential boon to video sites.

          Really, if it doesn't bother Wikimedia, the only ones bothered by it should be ISPs and content creators who want to be take

          • by tepples (727027)

            the average is probably at least a little bit better.

            The average case can't just be "a little bit better". It has to be better enough to pay the bills of programmers and server administrators.

            if it doesn't bother Wikimedia, the only ones bothered by it should be ISPs and content creators who want to be takedown-happy.

            Wikipedia already has processes for deleting non-free media with dodgy fair use rationales [wikipedia.org].

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Why would they send it over HTTP, instead of having their server participate in the swarm as a seed? That seems the natural way to do it.

  • Isn't this a form of net neutrality, where we have high and low priority data ?
    • by samjam (256347)

      Net neutrality often concerns me - why shouldn't I be able to play less for what I call low priority traffic and have someone else's prioritized above mine.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by icebraining (1313345)

        I want to be clear what we mean by Net neutrality: What we mean is if you have one data type like video, you don't discriminate against one person's video in favor of another. But it's okay to discriminate across different types, so you could prioritize voice over video, and there is general agreement with Verizon and Google on that issue.

        --Google CEO Eric E. Schmidt

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by icebraining (1313345)

      Network neutrality is about the ISPs treating data as equal, not about the clients or servers.

    • by gman003 (1693318)
      The difference is that there's no payments going on, and the server is setting things as low priority, not some ISP's router. The technology has nothing to do with network neutrality.
  • by spxZA (996757) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @05:15AM (#33720762)
    PLEASE SEED!!
  • Seeding problem (Score:2, Interesting)

    by drHirudo (1830056)
    This sounds nice. With the back up of HTTP server, this means the leechers will be irrelevant, when nobody else is seeding. Many people will just leech, watch and forget, without giving back seed. Because of the lack of seeds, the file hosting sites are so damn popular now. If everyone was seeding after download, then nobody would need file hosting services. Even YouTube, Vimeo and other video sites may go to this model then. (HTTP with backup of bit torrent and vice versa) cool cool cool. This gets even be
    • by Rich0 (548339)

      They really need to build P2P into the HTTP protocol. It is the best of both worlds. When nobody is accessing a site, then a single webserver can easily cope with the load, and it serves the purpose of being the "seeder" of last resort, and also providing hashes/etc to authenticate the content. When a lot of people are hitting a site the webserver just becomes one seed of many and the swarm takes over.

      Amazon S3 has an offering like this, but it is either http or torrent, not a seamless switch from one to

  • Lets see how the MAFIAA/Government/ISPs deal with P2P being used like this...
  • a obvious use for Bittorrent would be serve big backups of wikipedia as bittorrent.
    but the backups of Wikipedia are not served that way, because make no sense, since at the speed that change, you will have people seeding a old version no one wants anymore.

    bittorrent has not appeal for files that can change often.

    just saying...

    • Not true; Wikipedia dumps are often updated, but most of the content stays the same. You could perfectly serve a complete dump every six months, for example, and then serve via HTTP only the diffs to the last dump.

      In fact, in the download section of Wikipedia they show* the usage of rsync to download only the changes between the current version and what you have on the disk, which means you could perfectly use a well seeded torrent of the dump [torrentz.com] and then sync it to the current revision using rsync.

      *it seems t

  • I'm definitely interested in this and will be checking it out once I get home from school. What other possibilities does this technology hint at?

  • How would it help if 90% of web users are behind NAT/proxy?

    Who does have real IP on the desktop at all? Do I have to open inbound port directly to my browser?

    I'd like to keep all P2P traffic on my router, so it doesn't get anywhere inside my LAN

    • Again its not about piracy where you need near 1:1 ratios for seeds to leaches. Its about supplementing http distribution, so its fine if 60% comes from the http it still reduces distribution costs. Its fine if only a few dozen institutions or upload nodes to donate a few mbs here and there, rather than every visitor contributing an equal amount to an upload.
      • by atisss (1661313)

        I highly doubt that it would be 60%. Do you know single person having non-NATed computer for web browsing?

        In order to create P2P distribution you need at least one side able to accept inbound connections, but NAT/proxy would forbid it.

        • by kiwix (1810960)

          Do you know single person having non-NATed computer for web browsing?

          Most of the machines I use for browsing are non-NATed. My machine at the university has a public IP. My home machine also has a public IP, because I want to be able to use it as a server, and it's easier to have a single machine than two. Even my laptop gets a public IP when I use the hotspots of my ISP [wikipedia.org].

  • I wrote my master thesis [tml.tkk.fi] on a similar solution. I made a Python-based standalone implementation of the protocol and a simulator for it with everything happening on a single local machine. No nodes or no internet traffic. Kind of lame, but hey I got my degree :) Never bothered to do a proper implementation suitable for the real world use, as I got bored to tears by the time the thesis was done. Glad to see this something like this happening for real.
  • There goes another one of my ideas. Of course #bittorrent isn't logged. I should really start a darned blog :-(

  • it would be cool if they could use metalink [metalinker.org], an internet standard for describing files offered in hybrid ftp/http/p2p content distribution systems, already used by a lot of open source projects.

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