Blogging and piracy

For some reason, this new paper on blogging by Gaudel, Mathieu and Peroni was associated in my mind with this article in Slate on movie uploader, aXXo.

The blogging paper concerns the economics of reciprocal attention. The hypothesis is that the reason people blog is to have their ideas read but that this comes with a price (or norm) that you need to read and acknowledge the ideas and opinions of others. The paper looks at Livejournal data to test this out by examining the quantity of blog content and the type of network a blogger has — friends versus readers. The idea is that you have to consider putting effort into blogging. Under the norm, if you don’t provide much content you will have to cite and discuss others more so as to maintain status. Conversely if you provide lots of content, you don’t have to worry about giving as much attention to others. It is overall contribution that matters. What they find is that blogs with more readers than friends do indeed provide more content. I’m not quite sure this is the first order model but, as usual with these things, it can get you thinking.

So I was thinking about aXXo. aXXo is apparently a brand name in the Bit Torrent network for providing good quality movie content. Of course, this is illegal content but in a world ungoverned by the rule of law, that illegality attracts malicious content disguised as something more attractive. So a brand matters and the torrent distribution cites maintain the integrity of brand names with account verification.

But what is in it for aXXo? There can be no explicit recognition as identity is secret. There is no obvious remuneration although the torrent sites can do well from advertising revenue. aXXo is purely self-motivated but with cost, some risk of prosecution. It seems from the article that aXXo does get attention and recognition with downloaders leaving complementary comments. Can that be it? Is that enough to keep going? It makes you wonder.

2 thoughts on “Blogging and piracy”

  1. My understanding was that aXXo did in fact have a substantive incentive: virtually unlimited access to other topsites (although this could have come from the Wired article that Slate linked to).


  2. Bear in mind that you are talking about the torrent scene, so it is unlikely that aXXo would have access to real topsites unless they also had “scene” access.

    As far as I know, the torrent scene is despised by the majority of the traditional scene.

    Also, I think you will find that the traditional warez scene is a lot like academia. It is ostensibly reputation based in the sense that everyone claims to be doing it for rep rather than profit and the traditional scene in fact claims to despise the commercial pirates. In fact, the addictiveness of the scene for a great many is really the rush that one gets in releasing the best releases, “racing” the other groups to be the first to release something, all for reputation rather than money.

    But the slightly seedier truth is that a certain element of the warez scene has probably always been in it for profit, just like a certain element of academia has probably always been in it for the grants :D.


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