Permaweb: Creating An Uncensorable World Wide Web

14 Feb 2019

Permaweb, an “immutable decentralized web” that aims to put the power back into the hands of the content creators and the individual user, was officially launched on January 29th, 2019. As described by the project’s founders, the permaweb platform offers an incentivized model to permanently record information across a globally distributed network.

According to permaweb’s development team, they’ve created an information permanence solution that functions like the internet was intended to work when it first began with the introduction of web 1.0. Before monolithic power structures were established by giant tech corporations such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google, the world wide web was open, or more accessible to the individual user, and operated “without a central controlling node, with no single points of failure”.

Permanently Publish Information Using Permaweb

However, the internet of today has become “vulnerable to [information] censorship and loss” because previously open networks are increasingly being controlled and monitored by servers owned by large IT firms. In order to resolve these issues, the permaweb allows users to permanently publish information on its distributed platform. Although the permaweb looks just like the traditional web, it lets everyone record information on web pages that are “available forever” so that there are no more 404 error messages (web page not found).

Creating and storing content on the permaweb requires zero maintenance and is available at low-cost. The content creator is able to take advantage of “permanent hosting of their web apps and web pages” through the permaweb portal. Built by the founders of the Arweave project, the permaweb allows users to record information and create websites that reside forever on a smart blockchain. The data on these websites can be accessed quickly and it can be maintained at low costs.

Permaweb Is Built On Top Of Arweave’s Infrastructure

Similar to how HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) is built on top of the TCP/IP (transmission control protocol / internet protocol), the permaweb is an application layer developed on top of Arweave’s globally-accessible “permanent hard drive.” Unlike the current online information storing system which involves large companies such as Google and Facebook managing user data in order generate revenue, the permaweb data storage system utilizes people’s unused hard drive space.

The unused hard drive storage space is provided by miners on the Arweave network who are “incentivized to serve the permaweb by earning tokens” (in exchange for their computer’s disk space). As mentioned in Arweave’s Medium post, the permaweb system provides an incentivized model to store data without compromising the data owner’s privacy.

As pointed out in Arweave’s blog post, the existing web is supported by “millions of under-utilized, overpriced servers.” These inefficient machines reside in large warehouses as they “wait for requests to provide [users] with web pages.” The server machines are mostly owned and operated by large tech firms including Google and Amazon.  

Not Paying For “Capacity You Never Use”

Because a significant amount of disk space allocated by these servers is never used, the website or content creators have to pay for “capacity they never use.” However, permaweb solves this problem as it’s content management system is based on a serverless structure which is designed in a “much more efficient” manner.

The serverless data storage model allows content providers to “save time and money” - just like Uber and AirBnB enable users to easily earn money from their unused car or home. By providing spare hard drive space through the Arweave platform, users can also earn money. Arweave’s network acts as a marketplace where people looking for web hosting services can obtain unused hard drive space from other users.

Compared to the traditional web hosting model, Arweave’s serverless architecture is significantly more efficient as it optimizes network utilization. Billions of people throughout the world are able to create and disseminate information through the traditional web-based data sharing protocols, Arweave’s blog notes.

Finding Better Ways To Manage Our Own Data, Privacy

But what began as a large-scale experiment in the “free-flow of information” has turned into an “increasingly controlled, monitored”, and censored web. Since the internet has become a key part of our way of life, it’s important that we start thinking of ways to better manage our own data and privacy.

By using the Arweave platform, we can create a new web that’s uncensorable and allows us to truly own the information that we create. News events such as Kerch Strait incident, which took place in November 2018, involved conflicting actions and statements from Russian and Ukrainian sources. The details regarding the incident had been published to the internet, however Sputnik International removed an article that contained sensitive information related to the event. Realizing and anticipating that something like this could happen, the Arweave community had immediately archived the statements made by the officials from both sides on the permaweb.

Because of the Arweave platform’s ability to permanently record information, “no matter how much Sputnik attempts to censor and deny [the] information, it will always be available via the Arweave’s permaweb.” In 2018, the Arweave project developers introduced a feature which allows users to “transfer existing web pages onto the permaweb.”

Now, Arweave’s team has launched a “new deployment tool that allows developers to publish apps and sites on the permaweb directly.” Users can upload their applications by using Arweave’s new deployment tool and once the app or website has been transferred onto the permaweb, it is “hosted instantly and permanently.”

Become A Permaweb Pioneer

Becoming a permaweb pioneer is easy and those who join the platform can claim free tokens - which can be used to deploy uncensorable applications. Moreover, there will be many new announcements regarding the Arweave project in the coming weeks. The project’s founders plan to share the names of many “innovative projects and companies who are already using the permaweb for their own infrastructure.”

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