BitTorrent’s Bram Cohen: Diabolical PlotMeister, or Sweet Little Autistic Nerd Boy?

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This month’s issue of Wired Magazine has an absolutely brilliantly done piece by Clive Thompson in which he interviews and dissects Bram Cohen, the inventor and founder of BitTorrent.

Thompson expertly brings Cohen to life on the pages for his readers, painting a picture of someone who is at once so intense and so intensely focussed on his creation, and yet so laid back and immensely unconcerned with anything but the technical beauty of what he has wrought, that you get almost seasick from the yin-yang duality of it all.


BitTorrent is, by all accounts – be it from devotee or detractor – a stroke of sheer brilliance. And sheer briliance seems to be one of Cohen’s strong points. Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a collection of symptoms which some put on the mild end of the autism scale, Cohen will, according to his wife, pace for hours and then suddenly sit down at the computer and have a complete, perfect program stream from his fingers. Much like, says Mrs. Torrent, Mozart when he composed music. One can tell that when she refers to her husband as her “sweet little autistic nerd boy” it is a sincere, if somewhat unusual, term of endearment.

What perhaps strikes one most about the Cohen which Thompson presents is the complete lack of guile or artifice. Cohen states that he has never, ever used his creation to download anything illegal, pointing out that he would be the example that the RIAA and MPAA would love to crucify, but also averring that he is upholding a standard. A standard which, he admits, is probably being upheld by him alone. Cohen is fully aware that his invention is being used by millions daily, around the world, to download illegal content. But that’s not his problem. And it really really isn’t.

More importantly, it’s clear that was not his intention, even though he was likely well aware of the potential before he ever put fingers to keyboard.

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No, if Thompson’s representation of Cohen is true, then it is clear that Cohen invented BitTorrent for the sheer exhileration of inventing BitTorrent – something which was elegant, clear, and perfect.

Let the lawyers battle out the uses of the thing.

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, anyone?

 

[You can read the complete Wired interview here.]

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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