In an optimal world, everyone will own their data and be fully responsible for it. Several technologies are arising to bring about the decentralized future, often referred to as “Web 3.0.” One such contender is IPFS, the Inter-Planetary Filesystem. It identifies files by the hash of its content. Files on IPFS can be accessed by HTTP gateways, FUSE mounts, and through its command line utility. A good contender indeed, but is it worth it? Could it be better?
IPFS has two exposed “types,” IPFS and IPNS. IPNS is DNS for IPFS. I’m sorry if I’m losing you with all these acronyms! DNS is the Internet magic that takes human addresses like “example.org” and turns them into computer addresses such as “22.214.171.124”. IPNS fulfills a similar role: it routes a familiar name, or a key hash, to a possibly changing IPFS file address. Since IPFS links don’t change, IPNS was created to give users something to bookmark for an updating website. Remember how I said IPNS is DNS for IPFS? IPNS even uses DNS to resolve names based on a TXT record, which is a bit of data for a website in DNS that has some arbitrary information, usually used for verification or something like IPNS addresses. DNS is centralized (IANA controls it), and the key names are not memorable. I think IPNS should have a conflict resolution system and allow you to truncate keys or get a shorter hash to get a conflict resolution screen.
However, since IPFS has been around for a little bit, it has some demos, so you can see it in action. This can help get the ball rolling and give it mainstream media attention. (I couldn’t find any articles from mainstream media on IPFS!) The user of the demos can see how it’s already being used. This is crucial for any contender: community support.
Does a worthy contender even exist? In these early stages of Web 3.0, we don’t know! It could be on a transaction based blockchain (I hope that doesn’t mean paid hosting!) or a concept we haven’t even heard of yet. IPFS has a long way to go before it is ready for widespread use.