Although over 1.1 petabytes of data are available and shared via the peer-to-peer services of BitTorrent, there's now a new web service that lets you get statistics on it all: it's called Bitsmash. This relatively simple service allows you to search and sort data and usage metrics about all that p2p data. Data which is available via an API (our Bitsmash profile). And for any given torrent (any file being distributed on the network) it will give you summary data and show you graphs of activity over time. The screenshot below shows a bitsmash entry for Knight Rider
Their RESTful API provides programmatic access to the underlying data as XML. It's fairly straightforward to use and does not require a developer key for access. In addition, the underlying data is licensed using an open Creative Commons license.
Bitsmash is also a mashup in itself, with a detailed Google Map for each entry that shows the location of seed, host and leech nodes (see the Wikipedia link below for more on these terms).
For those not familiar with BitTorrent, the Wikipedia entry gives a good summary:
BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol used to distribute large amounts of data. The initial distributor of the complete file or collection acts as the first seed. Each peer who downloads the data also uploads them to other peers. Relative to standard internet hosting, this provides a significant reduction in the original distributor's hardware and bandwidth resource costs. It also provides redundancy against system problems and reduces dependence on the original distributor.
Programmer Bram Cohen designed the protocol in April 2001 and released a first implementation on July 2, 2001. It is now maintained by Cohen's company BitTorrent, Inc. Usage of the protocol accounts for significant Internet traffic, though the precise amount has proven difficult to measure. There are numerous BitTorrent clients available for a variety of computing platforms. According to isoHunt the total amount of content is currently more than 1.1 petabytes.
The folks over at TorrentFreak have raised some questions about the accuracy of the data, but they, as well as developer Smash, note that it's an early beta and the quality should improve over time.
They also note that in some ways this service becomes a meta-search for content, both legal and other:
Interestingly, BitSmash has decided to include a link to the .torrent files on their detail pages, which basically makes it a meta-search engine as well. The anti-piracy lobby might not be too happy about that. A few days ago we reported on the Swedish news site Nyheter24, that was criticized for linking to torrents on The Pirate Bay.