LionShare Releases Personal Repository Milestone – Born of the recognition that the vast majority of learning and teaching material lives on peoples’ PCs, the LionShare project aims to provide a simple and trusted way to share those materials with others. The open source application isn’t quite done yet, but a useable beta has just been released. There are, of course, reasons why people keep most of their interesting stuff on their own machines — convenience and control being pretty important ones. Compared to a curatorial repository or a plain webserver, material on your hard disk is easier to access and control, and can be in any state of completion. The LionShare team figured that, if these riches are to be exposed to others, as much of that convenience and control needs to be retained. Hence the choice for a peer-to-peer application. In terms of convenience, this kind of programme has the advantage that it sits on your own machine and talks to its peers on other PCs directly. The material that you manage is therefore always ‘there’. In terms of control, a peer-to-peer also has the advantage that the user herself determines what is shared at any given point in time. Conventional peer-to-peer clients also have some flip-sides, though. Convenience doesn’t extend to a guarantee that a peer with a particularly interesting resource will be available when you go look for it, for example. Likewise, control generally extends to what is shared, not with whom or under what conditions. Hence the ongoing kerfufle around peer-to-peer clients such as the eDonkey, KaZaa and Limewire that are widely used to illegally distribute copyrighted materials.That illicit use makes peer-to-peer file sharing applications rather unpopular with college or university administrators, who fear the mores and lawyers of the rights owners. LionShare technical aim, then, is to address these drawbacks in order to make a peer-to-peer file sharing application that can work in an educational environment. Chief amongst these is to build in trust by making it impossible to use the application anonymously. All LionShare users need to authenticate first, so that each available resource shows by whom it is shared. Likewise, there is built in support for a server to enable people to share things even if their machines are not running. What it does now …. The current, 0.6, release is already a good deal of the way there. It does the authentication thing, with single sign on, provided the institutional network has a Kerberos implementation. Because that’s in place, you can easily see whom you’re sharing what with.