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updated 1/15/2007 10:08:52 PM ET 2007-01-16T03:08:52

A powerful U.S. senator endured ridicule last year for his assertion that the Internet is “a series of tubes.” But one Web startup hopes to bring that metaphor to life with a new service that makes it easy for people to share videos, songs, pictures and other big files.

After downloading the Tubes application from Adesso Systems Inc., Windows computer users can create dozens of such tubes and fill each one with up to 2 gigabytes of content — room for about a few hundred songs, for example.

Tube creators then invite others to join a Tube (the recipients must also download Adesso’s application to their PCs) and can grant those partners varying privilege levels. Those include locking them into a read-only mode or letting them add or remove files of their own.

An e-mail, a Web link, a presentation, a video or any other file can be put into a Tube simply by dragging it from the desktop and dropping it into the Tubes application on the side of the screen. Once in a Tube, files automatically get placed on recipients’ PC hard drives.

Adesso executives believe the system is far less cumbersome than sending e-mail attachments around, which should appeal to far-flung groups of friends and relatives, not to mention individuals who use multiple computers and want to have the same files on all of them. It also could aid co-workers who need an easy way to synchronize collaborative projects.

“It’s like instant-messaging for your stuff,” said Adesso’s director of marketing, Steve Chazin.
It is the ease of the method — pop something in a folder and presto, it appears somewhere else — that gives Tubes its name. It’s a reference to the pneumatic tubes that banks sometimes use to ferry deposits to and from drive-up windows. Paris and other cities once had wonderfully elaborate pneumatic systems for routing mail.

Of course, many people will likely recall Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens’ unintentionally funny declaration that the Internet is “not a big truck, it’s a series of tubes.”

When Adesso takes the wraps off the service Tuesday, it will be free. The Boston-based company expects to make money by charging businesses for an advanced version. Before that, however, Chazin hopes to build a groundswell among users who use it for purposes he can’t yet predict.

“We’re not sure where it’s going to go,” said Chazin, a former Apple Inc. executive. Adesso’s brass also includes several alumni of Lotus Development Corp., a pioneer in collaborative software.

The Associated Press sampled Tubes in beta mode and found the service easy to install and use. We did encounter some glitches that eventually should be ironed out, including one problem that resulted from the particular way our internal PCs are networked. One user felt the application hogged a computer’s resources.

Gartner Inc. analyst Allen Weiner praised Tubes for giving people a simple way to create direct, personal channels for managing content. He said the ultimate measure of its success could be whether media companies begin using it as a way to pump material to the public.
“There are lots of compelling points here,” he said.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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