Inter-Planetary File System, Decentralizing The Web By Distributing It

If, at the beginning, the World Wide Web reflected a certain democratic ideal, it was not long before it crumbled in the face of the monopolistic and aggressive pressures of a liberal market, revealing its weaknesses ever more clearly over the years. And while the main digital services have now been concentrated by a few technology giants, centralizing the web around a few jealously guarded servers, new conceptions are emerging to modify the balance of power and rethink an internet grown fragile.


In the context of an emerging Internet, it was quite practical and legitimate to use a centralized client-server model to support the existence of different web applications, with the HTTP protocol in charge of governing data exchange within the network. But today, the World Wide Web is no longer a young technology, it has completed its maturation phase and a handful of companies have emerged victorious with a quasi-monopoly status. Yet, in their march to consolidate their power, they have now turned against the same spirit and values that brought them into being in the first place, lobbying for more regulations or eliminating competitors. A glaring example of this is the Parler app, whose approach was to provide social media without censorship, and which was promptly kicked out in 2021 from AWS, Amazon's cloud unit, for refusing to censor anyone, and making the platform inaccessible for a prolonged period. But the constraints of this model are not only political, the existence of the data is ensured by only one entity and their transfer is limited in size, unlike a system that would provide a peer-to-peer connection and a data storage distributed among all users of the network.

It is from this realization that alternatives such as the IPFS (InterPlanetaryFileSystem) have developed. This one is not a blockchain-based system as usually discussed in these newsletters, but it has basically the same ideals and the same spirit. The goal here is to change the current mechanisms of access to property by basing its operation on a system of "mutual ownership and participation". Indeed, by inviting each user of the network to store a small part of it, IPFS distributes the Internet in the hands of all, thus allowing to bypass the use of a central entity in applications that would not be suited to it. In addition, data transfers are carried out directly between users in the same way as Torrent solutions such as BitTorrent, thus ensuring optimal transmission speed. This new internet offers a viable solution to support most of the web features we know today, especially since it allows the file to be available to everyone at any time without the need for central servers. This gives the data a real democratization character of document sharing, a filtering of the information by a third person being made almost impossible. In terms of ecology, the energy required to connect a user to the document it is looking for could be greatly reduced. With the file being made available from multiple points rather than just one, the search engine could find a version of the file that is in a much closer location to the user in question. The amount of energy required to produce the same result with these centralized search tools is thus considerably reduced.

In the same way, solutions like Storj have been developed to compete with Google Drive, which has become too invasive and is known to scan its users' documents. Storj offers to store encrypted fractions of files in a multitude of network participants, who receive financial compensation for the storage space they make available. This makes it very difficult for a third party to retrieve the contents of the files and offers an alternative income to individuals.

In conclusion, the movements that seek to reshape the balance of various industries by placing users at the center of their solutions do not stop at blockchain alone. Initiatives are emerging everywhere and carry with them a wind of optimism about the vision of tomorrow's world.