Developers in the cryptocurrency environment are talking about a new kind of internet. Organizations from ConsenSys to OpenBazaar have mentioned a project called the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) — a project that aims to create a distributed web, much different to the one we use today.
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IPFS Seeking to Evolve the Internet’s Centralized Infrastructure
Before becoming an open source community, IPFS was originally designed by Juan Benet and developed by Protocol Labs. At its foundations, IPFS is a peer-to-peer distributed framework that feels like the World Wide Web but acts more like BitTorrent. IPFS replaces the cumbersome Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) with a hypermedia element between many nodes.
HTTP networks are very centralized and download content from single servers. Servers that operate this way often suffer from attacks like DDoS and bandwidth issues. As a result, the internet is slower than it should be, costly, and dependent on central entities. The open source IPFS community claims its network has no single point of failure. Users access content via a framework of trustless nodes, avoiding DDoS attacks.
The core of IPFS utilizes its BitTorrent style swarm by exchanging git files, making it a fully distributed permanent web. In essence, the project enables fully distributed applications, making the web “faster, safer, and more open.” All IPFS websites have no central authority and no origin servers. Additionally, the websites don’t communicate with servers and pages run on the client-side. The decentralized internet project’s white paper explains:
IPFS is a distributed file system that seeks to connect all computing devices with the same system of files. —IPFS is a Free Open Source project, with hundreds of contributors.—The project seeks to evolve the infrastructure of the Internet and the Web, with many things we’ve learned from successful systems, like Git, BitTorrent, Kademlia, Bitcoin, many more.
Just as There’s a Need For Decentralized Money, So Too a Distributed Web
Currently, internet controlling, monitoring and monopolies are beginning to wreak havoc on our web. This can be seen in countries like China with its Great Firewall, and Russia, with its many many blacklisted websites. On October 1st ICANN (Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers) will be removed from American control. Many believe this will put the internet into the hands of the U.N. — which has shown blatant disregard for free speech.
When Edward Snowden unveiled many secrets of how governments worldwide monitor the internet, there was shock. People believe releasing ICANN to a globalized front will strengthen these entities monitoring and surveillance efforts. Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton believes that, in 10 years, the U.N. will control internet services indefinitely. As a result, in Bolton’s opinion, this will be the end of the internet as we know it. The former U.N. official explained his view, stating:
In an international environment, I can tell you from my own experience, when you get all kinds of governments from all over the world setting standards and making decisions, it will be far less free than it is now.
Much Like Cryptocurrencies IPFS and ZeroNet Are Censorship Resistant Methods
The future of the web is at stake while major internet companies such as Amazon, Google, and others control the surfing highways. These businesses give in to nation-state demands and censor internet freedoms on a whim.
Alongside this, the way HTTP centralizes internet services creates environments for bandwidth-heavy sites like YouTube to become more cumbersome. In essence, this makes the internet more costly for people wanting to surf the web, and many developing nations can never break the barriers to entry.
However, new decentralized internet designs are making their way slowly into everyone’s hands. Protocols like IPFS are bolstered by developers within the cryptocurrency community more often. Recently, OpenBazaar (OB) developer Chris Pacia told us that IPFS was integral to OB’s Tor implementation. Additionally, IPFS architecture can utilize or even emulate blockchain platforms such as Ethereum.
ZeroNet is another decentralized peer-to-peer internet. The Budapest-based project builds its services with Python and websites use a ZeroNet URL. The ZeroNet protocol also uses Bitcoin-like cryptography and ideas from the BitTorrent network.
The project also aims to decentralize the web and make it a network free from censorship and attacks. Lead developer Tamas Kocsis explained ZeroNet will put the internet back into ordinary people’s hands.
“ZeroNet allows you to create websites without any server, that is only modifiable by you. It has no hosting costs; the sites are served by the visitors, if you visit a site it’s also become available from you. It reduces Internet centralization, surveillance and gives more power to the people,” explains Kocsis.
The Distributed Web Is Coming
There is no doubt that privacy advocates, freedom fighters, and activists will continue to bolster a freer Internet. At the same time, nation-states and centralized entities will continue to try and control it.
The reason for this is: the internet created a new type of decentralized thought, one with transparency and a money system no-one controls. Hopefully, worldwide developers will continue to break the precedent and online monopolies, so the internet can still do its job. That is, handing wealth and knowledge back to its global citizens.
If we want to continue to create concepts around decentralized governments, money, and knowledge, a distributed web is integral to this mission. Hopefully, there is enough time for it to catch on. Monopolies and nation states are moving fast to curtail online freedoms wherever they can.
What do you think about projects like IPFS? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Shutterstock, IPFS, and ZeroNet.
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