Computer scientists at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, in collaboration with colleagues from the Netherlands, are using a novel peer-to-peer video sharing application to explore a model for electronic commerce that uses Internet bandwidth
as a global currency.
The researchers envision an e-commerce model that connects users to a single global market, without any controlling company, network, or bank. They see bandwidth as the first true Internet “currency” for such a market. For example, the more a user uploads
now (i.e. earns) and the higher the quality of the contributions, the more s/he would be able to download later (i.e. spend) and the faster the download speed. In this way, individuals or groups of users may be able to run their own “marketplace” for any computer
resource or service.
Another idea the researchers believe has untapped potential is the combination of social network technology with peer-to-peer systems, in which a group of ‘friends’ pool their collective upload ‘reserve’ to slash download times.
To explore the idea further, the Harvard school is using an enhanced version of a P2P video file sharing program called Tribler, originally created by scientists at the Delft University of Technology and Vrije Universiteit. The application and more details
on the project is available at http://tv.seas.harvard.edu