An Empirical Analysis of Filesharing

Olson’s Paradox Revisited : An Empirical Analysis of Filesharing
Thierry Pénard, Sylvain Dejean, Raphaël Suire (June, 2009)


This article aims to examine the impact of group size on the provision of collective good provided by P2P file-sharing communities. Olson (1965) argued that small communities are more able to provide collective actions. Using an original database on Bittorrent file-sharing communities, our article finds a positive relation between the size of a community and the amount of collective good provided. However, the individual propensity to cooperate decreases with group size. These two features seem to indicate that P2P file-sharing communities provide a pure (non rival) public good. We also show that specialized communities are more efficient than general communities to encourage cooperative behavior. Finally, the rules designed by the managers of a community play an active role to stimulate voluntary contributions and improve the self-sustainability of file-sharing.

Source and full paper
See also Janko Roettgers article in this

UNU-Merit Survey of Wikipedia Readers and Contributors

Rishab Aiyer Ghosh 's Groups, UNU-MERIT, has done a large survery of wikipedia readers and contributors (130'000 completed surveys). Among the key (preliminary) results with regard to gender are:

  • Readers and contributors are on average in their mid-twenties, and predominantly male (75%)
  • Women, with a share of 25% in all respondents, are more strongly
    represented among readers (32%) and less strongly represented among
    contributors (13%).

Source: Wikimedia Blog, April 16, 2009
A short discussion of these results at file-sharing goes semi-private

Perhaps the days of the general file sharing nodes, like piratebay, isohunt, or even mininova are over. But certainly not the days of unregulated file-sharing. As far as one can tell, private-trackers are thriving and now the founder of isohunt is creating a new system called which centers around the ability of users to create groups of people with whom they want to share. wirtes: “The main difference that sets apart from other social file sharing and BitTorrent sites, is everything is centered around groups. Be it file sharing networks or flash video sites, a key piece we found missing is social context,” isoHunt’s founder Gary Fung said.

With Hexagon Fung hopes to bridge this gap by allowing people to
start groups where they can share content within a certain niche. These groups help to organize content and allow people to share with others who are interested in the same material, privately or in public.

Update: See also this article by Janko Roettgers (Sept.05.)

The Internet has not transformed civic engagement... yet

Ars Technica reports on the new study The Internet and Civic Engagement which found that there is a strong correlation between income and political activity and that there is little difference between online and offline, except that online more people sign petitions. Looks like the Internet is not really broadening the social basis of political involvement.

Data source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

Collaborative Filtering with Ensembles

Article on new collaborative platforms for software development

One of the most interesting insights from the results of the Netflix challenge is that while the algorithms, the psychology, and good knowledge of statistics goes a long way, it was ultimately the cross-team collaboration that ended the contest. "The Ensemble" team, appropriately named for the technique they used to merge their results consists of over 30 people. Likewise, the runner up team ("BellKor") is a collaborative effort of several distinct groups that merged their results. It is easy to overlook this fact, except that it is not a one-time occurrence. The leaderboard for the recent GitHub contest also clearly shows over half of the top ten entries as ensemble techniques!

test not on front page

this should not not be on the front page

The Benefits of Weak Copyright

File-Sharing and Copyright, by Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Koleman Strumpf, Harvard Business School, Working Paper 09-132

From the Introduction:

The advent of file-sharing technology has allowed consumers to copy music, books, video games and other protected works on an unprecedented scale at minimal cost. In this essay, we ask whether the new technology has undermined the incentives of authors and entertainment companies to create, market and distribute new works. While the empirical evidence of the effect of file sharing on sales is mixed, many studies conclude that music piracy can perhaps explain as much as one fifth of the recent decline in industry sales. A displacement of sales alone, however, is not sufficient to conclude that authors have weaker incentives to create new works. File sharing also influences the markets for concerts, electronics and communications infrastructure. For example, the technology increased concert prices, enticing artists to tour more often and, ultimately, raising their overall income.

Data on the supply of new works are consistent with our argument that file sharing did not discourage authors and publishers.

-> Michael Geist's summary

Neun Thesen zur Remix-Kultur

Heute ist mein umfangreiches Essay zur Remix-Kultur bei online gegangen. Es berührt viele Themen, die auch die Digitale Allmend behandelt.

Der Remix ist die kulturelle Form der Netzwerkgesellschaft. Felix Stalder beleuchtet in neun Thesen medienhistorische, technologische, politische, rechtliche, kulturtheorische, soziale und ökonomische Dynamiken, die den Aufstieg und die aktuelle Entwicklung des Remix prägen. In den Konflikten, die damit verbunden sind, spiegelt sich die Tiefe des aktuellen gesellschaftlichen Wandels.

Ganzes Essay als PDF (600 kb)

Update (Nov. 2009): Here is a pretty extensive summary of the paper in english.

semiotic subversion in china

CNN 报道 caonima 草泥马

youtube's failure to generate substantial income

The register has a story on an analyst's estimate (whatever that's worth these days) that youtube will be losing close to half a billion $ this year. They take this as an indication that the ad model is not working. After discussing two reasons why this might be the case -- either Google doesn't know how to do it (unlikely) or the model is fundamentally broken (more likely) -- they come up with an option for Google to make money out of youtube.

Of course, there's a third option for YouTube. Its parent company - whoever that may be - may want to cross-subsidize the operation in the hope that will drive traffic elsewhere on the site. Don't laugh - that's exactly what Google's new music service in China does. Google China pays rightsholders much more than 0.22p per song - about ten times as much, according to industry estimates. As Baidu has shown, music drives enormous traffic to the rest of the operation.

See also Ars Technica's article on the same subject.

Update (14.04.): On the other hand, artists are demanding that Youtube increases it's payment to them.

Update II (15.04). A detailed breakdown of revenue and costs. The most interesting figure is the amount given to independent creators through it's revenue sharing program.

Revenue share: If you provide videos to Google and join its revenue sharing program, then you get a commission if ads are shown alongside your content. Credit Suisse estimates that YouTube will "share" away $24 million this year -- $66,000 per day.

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