LibraryMixer Beta Launches, Private, De-Centralized Recommandation System

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 15, 2012
Updated • Jan 16, 2013
File Sharing, Software

LibraryMixer, a new private, de-centralized file lending and recommendation system has just been launched. The system itself currently consists of two components. First the LibraryMixer website where users can maintain their media library, write reviews, manage their wish and friend list, and a software program, currently available for Windows, Linux and Mac, that  acts as a chat and file sharing client.

The website builds the core of the service, as you can use it to manage your media library, friends and reviews. Since it is focused on privacy, you only interact with people that you have added to your friends list, and no one else. While you may see reviews of others on the site, it is limited to that.


You basically see all the items that your friends have added to their library, as well as all items that are known by the site. If you see that a friend is having an item that you would like to lend, you can request access to that item. If you both have installed the software, you can request to lend the item from your friend's computer. This only works if the item is in digital form of course.

Your friend can then accept or decline the request. If the request is accepted, the file will be send from your friend's computer to your own. It is a direct encrypted connection with no middle-man in between. It is interesting to note that the file gets deleted from the system until it is returned by the borrower. While this mimics real-world lending, it can mean that files will be lost forever when a friend can't return them anymore (e.g. computer crash, stolen, virus).

The software helps in another regard. Instead of having to add media one by one on the website, you can drag and drop folders and files into the software to add them to your library.

Here is a short tutorial video by the makers of the software.

The website does not address all the questions that interested users may have. For instance, if the service has knowledge about the file transfers, and whether those get logged, or what kind of encryption is used by the application.

You may also ask yourself how it differs from RetroShare, the Open Source decentralized communication platform? The core difference is the web frontend that LibraryMixer offers that RetroShare does not.

Closing Words

You can use the beta invitation code Nekothecat to sign up for the service if you are interested in it. The system requires some setting up time, which is likely the number one reason why many users won't give it a chance. Another issue that users may have with the lending system is that files get deleted when they are transferred to a friend. A better solution in my opinion would be to lock down the file for the time of lending, so that other friend's cannot lend it in that time.This would also reduce the bandwidth need to transfer the file back to its owner.

Will LibraryMixer get the traction it needs to become a self-sustaining Internet service? What's your take on this?


The developer has posted a response to the article which you can read below.

  1. It's essential that readers understand that the Mixologist is an optional app that supplements LibraryMixer. Users can use LibraryMixer entirely independently without the Mixologist. You have a heading for "LibraryMixer" so if possible, I suggest having a separate heading for the Mixologist.
  2. LibraryMixer very much values privacy, but users can actually interact with other users who are not their friends. For example, there is a wiki component to LibraryMixer. Every piece of media has its own wiki page, but unlike Wikipedia, there is no notability requirement so that even the smallest independent artist can be listed. The media wiki page hosts all the reviews of that particular media, so it is definitely possible for users (even those who don't sign up) to read reviews by other users who are not their LibraryMixer friends.
  3. Lending is absolutely not required on the Mixologist and is only one of the various options on what you can do with a file on the Mixologist. You can just send the file without lending. You can also set the Mixologist to respond with an auto-message, or even to auto-send a file. What you choose entirely depends on the rights that the users have to the file that they intend to transfer, and the choice and burden are on the user.
  4. In this sense, using the Mixologist is not limited to digital works and LibraryMixer fully accommodates physical items. When your friend requests a physical item in your library, for instance, you can set the Mixologist to respond with an auto-message saying you'll bring it next time you see your friend. It's now possible to know what our friends have in their physical actual libraries at home, and this can facilitate any exchanges without you visiting their home.
  5. LibraryMixer has absolutely no knowledge on what you and your friends say or transfer on the Mixologist. All LibraryMixer does is keep a laundry list of what users say they have. Clicks on the LibraryMixer website that cause the Mixologist to do things are handled entirely locally with nothing sent to LibraryMixer. Furthermore, it is possible to transfer files without listing anything on LibraryMixer at all.
  6. This differs from RetroShare in many ways that are more than just the web interface of LibraryMixer. For instance, it offers an array of options when a file is requested, such as the ability to auto-respond with a message, auto-send, lend, and auto-lend. In general the web interface enables things like adding friends to be handled as simple as adding friends on Facebook, which is in stark contrast to RetroShare with its key exchanges.



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