In a lot of the public discussion, peer to peer networks are used as a synonym for "illegal file sharing". Problem is, while they are about file sharing, that doesn't have to be illegal at all.
No, I am not going to start a blog entry about all the things that I think are wrong with the RIAA's and MPAA's approach to this topic. An Intel blog might be the wrong place for that, anyway. Instead, I want to talk about all the good things you can do with torrents that are within the current legal framework and that aren't being challenged by interest groups today.
Look for example at the efficient distributions of new releases of open source software. Most of the major distributions (and a number of the bigger projects) offer torrents in addition to traditional download sites. The advantage? They avoid the major bottleneck that always happens around new releases of their software; the moment a user was able to get a part of the software downloaded to his machine, he himself becomes a re-distributor and reduces the load of the central server. And the more people participate in the swarm and keep seeding, the better is the overall available bandwidth for additional people who want to download.
This works so well that there are examples of rather traditional outlets that don't offer ftp or http download anymore. ChinesePod, an online Chinese language program, offers their podcast for bulk download - one hundred episodes at a time. But only as torrents.
Peer to peer networking is a highly useful technology that can help overcome the bottlenecks of today's Internet. And open source efforts like Azureus continue to drive this technology and make it more powerful and easier to use for the end user.
Check it out!