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Bittorrent RSS

The Bittorrent RSS broadcasting technique for automating content distribution, combines RSS with Bittorrent protocol to create content delivery system. The concept explained by Steve Gillmor in a column for Ziff-Davis in December, 2003. The discussion spread quickly among bloggers (Ernest Miller, Chris Pirillo, etc.).

For those of you who are not aware of what actually BitTorrent'r are, this is the technology through which large files - may be MB's, or GB's, can broadcasted using files of tiny sizes, which may be of Kilo Byte order only. These SMALLER files generally have the .torrent extension. Now, to download the actual LARGER files through these SMALLER ones, you require a special type of software - know as BitTorrent Clients. Whenever you open a .torrent file into these applications, the CLIENT automatically identifies the ACTUAL file, and starts downloading it.

You can easily see the bottomline that this technology has in common with the RSS technology - wrapping LARGER files into SMALLER ones.

Yes. You have got it. This BitTorrent technology is actually somewhat derived from that of the RSS's. Most of the BitTorrent-based peer-to-peer applications, that you use to download your favourite movies or MP3's, do have inbuild support of the RSS format. What happens is that, these feeds (i. e., the Bittorrent RSS-es or Torrentcasts) allow these client applications to download files automatically from the moment the RSS reader torrent clients detect them (this process is also known as Broadcatching).

BitTorrent was specifically designed to share bandwidth costs for making large media objects available. Usually this was attached to major media companies, sharing LARGE contents. Small broadcasters were never in it. RSS announcement of the availability increases the likelihood of more simultaneous users, thus decreasing the bandwidth costs of the seeder substantially. This means that anyone's content can be broadcatched, not just those of major media companies.

RSS and Bittorrent

  1. RSS and Bittorrent complement each other naturally. RSS was designed to report freshly available content, which is exactly what BitTorrent does. RSS 2.0 enclosures were designed to automate the download process that BitTorrent optimizes.

    Naturally, after the arrival of RSS, the revolution in the BitTorrent technology was never so far away.

  2. Combining the two reduced the barrier to entry for small broadcasters. While not a new idea, but LARGE file activities, like - video blogging has always borne a bandwidth cost. Combining BitTorrent's cost savings with widely available RSS emitting tools, made it possible for a small group of motivated people across the world to create their own news channel.
In an article entitled Broadcatching with Bittorrent, Scott Raymond explained:

I want RSS feeds of BitTorrent files. A script would periodically check the feed for new items, and use them to start the download. Then, I could find a trusted publisher of an Alias RSS feed, and "subscribe" to all new episodes of the show, which would then start downloading automatically - like the "season pass" feature of the TiVo.
Scott Raymond,

The RSS feed will track the content, while Bittorrent ensures content integrity with cryptographic hashing of all data, so feed subscribers will receive uncorrupted content. One of the first and popular software clients (free and open source) for broadcatching is Miro. Other free software clients such as PenguinTV and KatchTV are also now supporting broadcatching.

The Bittorrent web-service MoveDigital had the ability to make torrents available to any web application capable of parsing XML through its standard REST-based interface, although this has since been discontinued. Additionally, Torrenthut is developing a similar torrent API that will provide the same features, as well as further intuition to help bring the torrent community to Web 2.0 standards. Alongside this release is a first PHP application built using the API called PEP, which will parse any Really Simple Syndication (RSS 2.0) feed and automatically create and seed a torrent for each enclosure found in that feed.

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