Digital Desire and Recorded Music: OiNK, Mnemotechnics and the Private BitTorrent Architecture

Sockanathan, Andrew. 2011. Digital Desire and Recorded Music: OiNK, Mnemotechnics and the Private BitTorrent Architecture. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Doctoral thesis)
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Abstract or Description

This thesis centres on the P2P internet protocol BitTorrent, music filesharing, and nascent forms of collective action developing through private BitTorrent communities. The focus is on one of these communities, a music filesharing website called ‘OiNK’. Founded in 2005, it was the first of its kind to garner membership in the hundreds of thousands, was emblematic of user-led movements to improve the quality, efficiency and availability of digital media online, and was very publically shut down in 2007.

Making critical use of Simondon’s notion of ‘individuation’, two interrelated techno-historical impulses are identified as central to the ‘in-formation’ of both BitTorrent and OiNK. Firstly, through research into the development of the global music industry’s ‘productive circuit’ of manufacturing, distribution, retail and radio, it is shown how consumers were gradually excluded from having a say in how, what and where they could consume. Secondly, a history of ‘OiNK-style’ filesharing is gleaned, not from P2P, but from research into small, decentralised ‘online’ communities that emerged throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, where enthusiasts learned how to use software and hardware to manage the storage, reproduction, uploading and sharing of information.

This thesis shows how BitTorrent exposed these previously exclusive practices to masses of consumers who were dissatisfied with both retail/broadcasting and public P2P, through the new possibility of private BitTorrent communities. Through a case study of OiNK, encompassing in-depth interviews with ex-members, screenshots and technical analysis, this thesis shows how OiNK gathered a large and diverse online cache of ‘archival grade’ recorded music, bringing old and deleted music back into circulation and amassing a core of fanatically committed members. It accounts for a nascent form of online community, where large member-bases manage every aspect of the reproduction and circulation of digital artefacts, and at higher levels of quality/efficiency than legal alternatives.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


P2P, BitTorrent, filesharing, piracy, music, simondon, google, OiNK, mnemotechnics, individuation, transindividual, desire

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Centre for Cultural Studies (1998-2017)



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

17 Feb 2012 18:05

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:29


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