Andrew Grumet is blogging about the practical steps towards making BitTorrent and RSS work together and some of the issues involved (BitTorrent + RSS, step 1). One of the interesting problems of development is getting the client software to behave properly with regard to this new concept:
BT has a nice command line interface, btw. We need to feed it appropriate --responsefile and --saveas arguments. An open question, at least on Windows, is dealing with client software that spawns windows who don't know how to close themselves. Ideally we'd have a client that didn't spawn a window and that accepted a parameter that told it how long to continue running after completion of the download, to help other downloaders.
This is important, but I think it is a bigger problem than this. Ultimately, for the new broadcatch to be successful, the client will also have to integrate closely with the playback software (your DivX software, MP3 player, etc.). A proper user interface is going to be critical. TiVo would be a great place to start, but it is designed around the traditional broadcast paradigm and would need some serious changes to handle this concept.
BitTorrent + RSS will be revolutionary, but there is a lot of work to get from the concept to user-friendly implementation. For example, when the internet was in the early days, everyone was excited about the prospect of everyone making their own homepages. Great idea, poor implementation, as traditional webpages were too difficult to maintain and there was no RSS to make following changes easy. Today, blogs are a much better implementation of the homepage concept. Today, we aren't even at the homepage stage of BitTorrent + RSS.
After dinner, walking back to my car, Andrew Grumet told me that he planned to integrate BitTorrent with RSS. A namespace, a couple of Radio callbacks, and it should work. I'm in awe.
The RSS Winterfest was a good start, but it's difficult to over-emphasize the value of this type of conversation taking place in-person, face-to-face. In addition, how great would it be to include an "RSS Hackfest" (led by Andrew Grumet) to get us BitTorrent + RSS, authentication, better customization, metadata, and more?!