Rogers Cadenhead is Trying to Destroy BitTorrent

There's no fun in creating new awards if you can't give them out to people you like. I like Rogers Cadenhead, he's funny and smart. He's also intellectually dishonest! Let's review.

Rogers says, in the comments on his post, that he "[B]lame[s] Bram Cohen for misleading people about his original intent in developing BitTorrent." That intent? That BitTorrent was designed to enable piracy.

The evidence of this is a manifesto that Cohen had written a few years ago, where he published a long list of moderately radical social changes that he'd like to see. If Bram wanted to design BitTorrent to enable piracy, he wouldn't have made every tracker easily traceable to its host, as Rogers well knows. WASTE, for example, is far more decentralized in that regard, and far more anonymous, and Bram's certainly smart enough to design a system like that.

More to the point, it's irresponsible to post a headline so inflammatory, so designed to troll the traditional media when they're looking for a high-traffic piece when it'd be trivial to actually email the person being discussed and ask for clarification. Omitting that effort makes the post seem particularly ill-intentioned. (When I wrote this yesterday, I'd bet that CNET would pick up Rogers' post before Wired News did, but I was wrong)

Might Rogers be right? Possibly, but it's not a clear connection: The real story might be more nuanced. Legitimate uses of BitTorrent or similar technologies might enable businesses to get past the idea of distribution being costly or limiting, and might have them change their legislative goals to the point where "piracy" is no longer a crime. Already, what passes for privacy in copyrighted media is considered distribution under alternate IP regimes.

The bottom line? Rabble-rousing is easy, and therefore extremely lame. Rogers has perpetrated great media hacks, one of the best and most recent of which was squatting on the pope's domain name. The papacy has a long and glorious history of endorsing bad ideas and tolerating injustice, yet somehow Rogers didn't use any of his screen time to slam the pope for being intolerant, or for being insufficiently apologetic about his institution's past and current indiscretions and abuses. But it wouldn't be too hard, particularly if you're willing to go back into the past and look at writing that you've taken out of context. And you know what? I am cool with not doing that, because there's nothing wrong with just having some fun with a media stunt.

But when Rogers treats digging up someone's old web page to discredit a technology as if it's investigative reporting and throws a sensational headline on it, he's selling us all short and making us just as bad as the media we object to. Because I respect you Rogers, and because I think you care about this medium, I'm calling you out. I blame you for misleading people about BitTorrent.