Raising the bar

Cape Town - What’s an eccentric little bar on Strand Street got to do with the internet?

In Edward van Kuik’s case, the two go hand in hand because the owner of Alexander Bar is also the mind behind one of SA’s largest file-sharing networks.

Edward van Kuik created a local file-sharing website called FileGooi. FileGooi is an alternative to sending files as attachments via e-mail or ftp. Edward is in Alexander Bar on Strand Street. Picture: David Ritchie. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Three years ago, van Kuik was faced with a challenge – there was no easy way to share files on the internet.

“E-mails suffered from limits,” he explained on Monday. “And most websites were convoluted, with sign-up processes or some snag to deter the user.”

Why couldn’t he just “gooi” his files as easily as letting them fall from his hands, he thought.

In that moment, FileGooi was born.

The website allows users to upload, or “gooi”, their files on to the internet and share them immediately.

People have flocked to the service which has generated 6.5 terabytes of traffic – the equivalent of around 70 000 average-length films, or around 2.1 million mp3s – since its launch. Van Kuik said users “gooi” about 600 files a day.

“We expected most people would be sharing music and movies, but the site is very popular with corporates, especially graphic designers.”

At first the site didn’t require users to sign up, but when van Kuik discovered a minority were using the service to spread right-wing propaganda documentation and licensed documents, he forced users to create accounts.

“Now I can closely monitor and control what is going on.”

Van Kuik said he had expected the number of users to drop after he created the sign-up system, but instead he was seeing about 100 new users sign up every day.

While he has raised the file-sharing bar, he has also raised Alexander Bar – which he owns with his partner, Nicholas Spagnoletti – beyond what you would expect from your typical watering hole. Decorated with antique furniture, a record player and even a set of rotary dial telephones, van Kuik’s technology is still beating beneath the aged exterior.

The rotary dial telephones can be used for anything from listening to online radio stations, to ordering drinks from the barman – or drunk-dialling the people at the next table. - Cape Argus