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Who is going to defend the free internet agains Azure, AWS and Google Cloud? They are the very opposite of a free and open internet where everyone can "run a website" on her own machine.

It pains me to see a great idea like the Interplanetary File System still not working. I had similar experiences with IPFS and yes, we do need a project like this, only without the broken incentive structure attached to it. Why a "Filecoin"? We already have a tested and working native internet currency: bitcoin.

I've long believed that a browser itself should evolve to be both viewing visited websites but also to host said website for an x number of minutes/hour/days. A bit like webTorrent aims to work. This way a website that gets visitors gets decentralised hosters as well :-)




Filecoin isn't a currency. It's a token that proves "I replicated x amount of data, y reliably, for z amount of time", and (protocol-wise) can be exchanged for file storage services only. The market decides how much file storage is actually worth, by arbitrage.

The same principle goes for Namecoin, incidentally. The token embodies the value of the resource. I actually think this kind of thing is a much more stable base for a currency than Bitcoin's "it's valuable because we say so" system.


It’s worth noting that Filecoin and IPFS are independent, but mutually beneficial projects and networks. Using IPFS and Filecoin together is completely optional - as you can see by projects like Pinata, OpenBazaar, Qri, and DTube already using IPFS in the wild today.

By design, the Filecoin Network stores data on Filecoin nodes — not IPFS nodes. While we want to make these two networks even more interoperable (https://github.com/filecoin-project/specs/issues/143) — so that, for example, you could choose to supplement IPFS nodes with Filecoin nodes — we want to leave the choice up to users. There is a big opportunity to have a distributed marketplace for ensuring IPFS persistence, and multiple solutions optimizing for different use cases will likely coexist.


We don't need tokens.

We need P2P stuff that works.

Like https://github.com/webtorrent/webtorrent and https://github.com/amark/gun

They're both run in production, at scale (millions of users), and do NOT require any tokens.


>, and do NOT require any tokens.

You're looking at it from a pure technical perspective of pushing bytes around in a decentralized way.

What the folks pushing "tokens" are trying to solve is the game theory of financial incentives to store & serve those decentralized bytes. In contrast, things like Bittorrent/Beaker/webtorrent/etc depend on others' "altruism" to host and serve files.

Because altruism doesn't scale, that's why nobody wants to seed my 100 gigabytes of personal vacation photos. Sure, they'll be happy to seed & disseminate the latest cracked copy of Adobe Photoshop or a bluray rip of the latest Marvel Avengers movie. But my personal files are uninteresting to the current decentralized web.

(But I'm not claiming Filecoin actually solves the incentive puzzle. I'm merely pointing out that the "problem" Filecoin tries to solve is at a higher abstraction level (the economics) than webtorrent (the protocol).)


I agree, the problem is that Bitcoin and Filecoin (per author's IPFS scaling issues) do NOT scale though.

You must solve the technical scaling problem first, then sure, heck, add tokens if you dandy.

WebTorrent/GUN/etc. do scale. Add economics to that.

Preferably, add something that is time-scarce so people do not have to lose money (they don't pay FB or Google! If they have to pay Filecoin, they'll still choose free FB), something like BAT or Pirate Booty ( https://hackernoon.com/hollywood-crypto-behavioral-economics... ).


You can't always just "layer economics" on top. Sometimes the problem is economical.

Consider what it would take to replace DNS with a distributed system. In a global namespace, names have value. You can't just operate on first-come first-served - there needs to be a system that ensures that names go to whoever wants it most. In other words, the challenge to be solved there isn't the technical one of having a DHT - that's a mostly solved problem - it's how the hell to make the names cost money, and who the money goes to. (And if you don't think the names should cost money, how do you propose allocation should work?)


> altruism doesn't scale

Incentives don't exist on a one dimensional scale from pure greed to pure altruism.

People have lots of contextually dependent reasons for storing or sharing information. Those reasons are dynamic and super diverse.

In your case, why would you need lots of people to seed your 100 GB of personal vacation photos? You can seed them just fine! But don't use bittorrent, use the right tool for the job...

As a matter of fact, for the past 4 years I've been using btsync/resilio/syncthing to backup my personal media across different devices, as well as 70GB of audio projects. It's been working great.

That seems like a relatively small scale. And I'll bet some of those photos would be interesting enough to family and friends that they'd seed them.

From my naive perspective, the information itself is much more raw of a "currency" than any abstract economy built on top of it. Its "value" is determined by its relevance to one or many people, and p2p sharing, I believe, has the ability to accommodate this across many scales.

Why did public trackers fail? It wasn't because people didn't want to seed the content, it's because seeding the content became legally dangerous (and the trackers got shut down). To me, that's not a failure of "altruism", it's a failure caused by greed and an inability of industry to adapt.

And also by the reality that the tools are prototype level. Bittorrent and bitcoin are two incredible examples of applied cryptography and network science. They've showed us what's possible, but they're only the tip of the iceberg.

For many applications, lack of commodification is a feature, not a bug. What's holding us back is that the tools aren't built yet, but that's a work in progress!


>, why would you need lots of people to seed your 100 GB of personal vacation photos?

I think you're missing some context for the motivation of Filecoin. One of the elevator pitches is that it can disrupt cloud storage like Amazon S3.[1][2]

People do put personal files (e.g. via a cloud backup service) on cloud storage like AWS S3. Instead of a paying a centralized Amazon, Filecoin claims they have a way for money to go to the decentralized owners of harddrives.

Therefore, if "backing up my personal vacation photos" to Amazon S3 is a use case, that means the decentralized peers hosting my uninteresting personal files is also supposed to be possible.

>But don't use bittorrent, use the right tool for the job...

Yes, exactly. That's what my reply to gp was explaining: his suggestion of webtorrent/bittorrent/gun is a protocol that solves a different problem than the one Filecoin tries to solve.

[1] https://www.google.com/search?q=filecoin+amazon+aws+s3

[2] deep link of Juan Benet of Filecoin mentioning the centralized cloud services: https://youtu.be/6h2WNxEV8q4?t=482


> the motivation of Filecoin

was to sell tokens. Take an existing idea, build an incomplete implementation with a token attached, talk about features that don't exist as if they do - ICO success!


It isn't valuable because "we" say so (whoever "we" is). One reason it is valuable is because millions of dollars of energy resource is put into it to ensure that it is decentralized


That's a ridiculous misunderstanding of value. Just because you waste valuable resources to produce something doesn't mean the thing you produce is now valuable. If I feed my dog millions of dollars worth of beluga caviar, it doesn't mean his dogshit is now worth millions.

To the degree that bitcoin is valuable today, it's because speculators think somebody else will pay them more for it in the future.


Did you read the last part of my statement "to ensure that it is decentralized"?

True decentralization at this level is why it is valuable


The fact that you have to waste ever-escalating amounts of electricity to make bitcoins doesn't ensure that it's decentralized.

If anything, it means that economies of scale will favor larger organizations. In fact, that's what we see, with a few large Chinese mining syndicates controlling a majority of the hashrate: https://www.buybitcoinworldwide.com/mining/china/

Compare bitcoin to a real decentralized system like bittorrent, or hell, email.


> We already have a tested and working native internet currency: bitcoin.

Bitcoin manages low 6 figure transactions per day, using as much energy as the entire country of New Zealand to do so. That’s far from internet scale (or even “single Raspberry Pi”-scale) and, because it was designed around gold bug economics, the protocol says it can never improve because the whole point was to scale the overhead as a function of network size.

Fundamentally, the reason why none of these have worked comes down to economics: if you’re storing things, you want provable access times and reliability but the costs of doing so in a decentralized system are much higher than in a centralized model because you need more copies to balance out the lack of trust. That also hurts on the other side of this: if you’re considering hosting, you need to charge more to cover your risk of getting involved in legal proceedings and there’s a fairly high threshold where that risk just isn’t worth it.


>Why a "Filecoin"? We already have a tested and working native internet currency: bitcoin.

Maybe the "proof" section of the FAQ will explain the difference: https://filecoin.io/faqs#what-s-the-difference-between-all-t...

If you've already read that FAQ and still disagree, are you saying you can embed the incentives to store terabytes of others' data and also the proof of that storage into existing Bitcoin blocks?

(I'm not saying IPFS "proof-of-storage" scheme will work. I'm just saying Bitcoin's proof-of-(cpu)-work doesn't seem to easily map to verification that the peers' harddrives actually has the data they claim to have stored.)


In fact, Bitcoin's blockchain is not the right data structure for something like this.


> Why a "Filecoin"? We already have a tested and working native internet currency: bitcoin.

Because it’s a lot easier to raise $300 million on a bit of hype selling your own coin.

(Also Bitcoin micropayments aren’t quite there yet, but I’m not sure any other truly decentralized cryptocurrency really is either)


The problem with any alternative token transfer systems is that they either introduce additional points of centralization (hence attack vectors) or end up being significantly inferior to bitcoin in terms of scalability, reliability, testing and user base.


Also, why filecoin -at all- when siacoin exists and works already. Filecoin is vaporware.


I feel Nano is doing an outstanding job. It's what bitcoin was supposed to be.


The funny thing about every comment which positively mentions Nano is the writer invariably has zero idea what tradeoffs are made in the consensus protocol to make it faster. There are no free lunches in distributed systems which must contend with byzantine failures.


You've succinctly captured exactly how I feel when I hear people mention nano, so thank you for that.


Pray enlighten us.


There is an alternative stack that works pretty much as you describe, its browser being Beaker: https://beakerbrowser.com/docs/tour/

There is an option in there to seed visited content as well as to host your own stuff.


Yeah I was so confused why the author didn't just use dat it's so easy


He also tried dat.

https://macwright.org/2017/07/20/decentralize-your-website.h...

Hasnt written about it again though.


I'd like to read a comparison between the two hosting experiences; I'm not sure that eg. the linking-to-other-content part would be easier in dat-world, unless they run a pinning/re-hosting/gateway service tied to their current domain (which is doable, either standalone, or via Hashbase).


> I've long believed that a browser itself should evolve to be both viewing visited websites but also to host said website for an x number of minutes/hour/days. A bit like webTorrent aims to work.

As far as I can remember that's one of the features of https://beakerbrowser.com/


> Who is going to defend the free internet agains Azure, AWS and Google Cloud?

This is exactly what the http://metacurrency.org project aims to bring to life: http://holo.host/learn/ and http://ceptr.org

The distributed pattern they have created combines Git local source chains with cryptographic signing and BitTorrent’s DHT to create easily evolvable apps using http://holochain.org. Peer validation enforces rules defined in the logic of each app. Apps run locally instead of on a corporate server. If the current tech ecosystem is Platform Capitalism, then this pattern is Protocol Cooperativism.

I haven’t come across anything like this.


Why don't we go back to simple store and forward like mechanisms like net news, just with enhanced content formatting? Store and forward static websites.


Something like https://www.scuttlebutt.nz/?


Yeah I think we should, and storing and forwarding is exactly what Holochain does. I think there are different use cases for different tasks. I really like, and use, Scuttlebutt and DAT - which also store and forward data.

Scuttlebutt has been awesome for me to see that a social network can be completely hosted by it’s users.

I think Holochain and Ceptr are here to help us evolve how we work together and do our accounting.

What I love about Holochain's pattern is that it essentially provides a fully distributed, immutable and peer-to-peer crypto accounting framework for barter transactions/sharing work and resources. It does not focus on creating and managing artificially scarce coins (as is the case in the current financial system, and also in Blockchain). It is trying to show us that we are using Industrial Age tools (interest-bearing-debt national currencies), and that instead we could focus on creating peer-to-peer Information Age currencies [1].

Holochain's pattern enables communities to make their own judgements on what value something holds and how they want to account for it. It allows us to build that into a flow language - a currency. This means instead of using a fiat 'medium of exchange' backed by US imperialism and it's military might/control [2] - we create, redeem and destroy currencies based on asset-backed mutual-credit principles that mimic the way Mother Nature works. I think I read somewhere that today over 90% of money in the money system is speculative, and interest-bearing monopoly debt-money has no roots in the real world.

An example of a mutual credit currency could be a currency for seats on a train. When I buy a ticket, my ticket is tied to a certain seat on the train. If I went to Mars, my ticket would be worthless. The ticket is only valuable because the ticket is tied to the train system - to one of the seats available. This makes it asset-backed. Another example would be farmers being able to pre-sell their produce locally, without going through expensive middlemen. They can create currencies that represent their produce (the asset).

The MetaCurrency Project is bringing us a into a world where we have more agency when interacting with the world, using evolve-able peer to peer protocols that can be forked and re-forked, again and again, to better meet the needs of it's users.

They are giving us the tools to see the world with new eyes, and to allow multiple perspectives - instead of one rigid, centrally enforced truth.

Moving towards using mutual credit systems, together with reputation currencies (imagine your ratings on Uber, eBay etc. was hosted by your peer-to-peer community), allows you to build trust together in a way, un-intermediated or hindered by a corporate app and UI. These reputation currencies already exist, yet are contained and held hostage by our current paradigm. Other examples of reputation currencies I can think of are ‘FairTrade’ or ‘Organic’ labeling.

Holochain is BitTorrent + Git + Cryptographic Signatures + Peer Validation + Gossip [3] - making it agent centric instead of data centric. It is not anymore about the database in the middle, but about the relationships between peers and their balances/interactions, and the agreements we make together on what actions we are allowed to take in our different apps and networks. Together we can see and improve the app logic and I can bridge between my apps, as I now have complete control over my own data [4].

HoloREA is a project that is using Holochain to build a modular, cooperative and transparent economic supply chain framework. It uses the Resource Event Agent accounting model to enable users to steward and follow flows of economic actions. These relationships are today tightly controlled in corporations. HoloREA aims to create a cooperative web of interactive flows of people, actions and resources.

Essentially, the vision is to reclaim The Commons and give us better tools to steward the world together more peacefully and compassionately.

If you’re interested in this paradigm, a few keywords I've found useful: Protocol / Open Cooperativism (currently we have Platform / Surveillance Capitalism), mutual credit, myth of barter, buddhist economics, social darwinism.

I also like the work of Elinor Ostrom, Bernard Lietaer, David Graeber, Douglas Rushkoff (Life Inc.), Charles Eisenstein, E.F. Schumacher, Silvia Federici, Mariana Mazzucato and Anand Giridharadas.

For technical material: http://ceptr.org

Footnotes/links: [1] https://prezi.com/xmzld_-wayho/new-economy-new-wealth/

[2] “Nixon floated the dollar in order to pay for the cost of a war in which, during the period of 1970–1972 alone, he ordered more than four million tons of explosives and incendiaries dropped on cities and villages across Indochina—causing one senator to dub him “the greatest bomber of all time.”7 The debt crisis was a direct result of the need to pay for the bombs, or, to be more precise, the vast military infrastructure required to deliver them. This was what was causing such an enormous strain on the U.S. gold reserves. Many hold that by floating the dollar, Nixon converted the U.S. currency into pure “fiat money”—mere pieces of paper, intrinsically worthless, that were treated as money only because the United States government insisted that they should be. In that case, one could well argue that U.S. military power was now the only thing backing up the currency. In a certain sense this is true, but the notion of “fiat money” assumes that money really “was” gold in the first place. Really we are dealing with another variation of credit money.” — David Graeber: ‘Debt: The First 5000 Years’

[3] https://holo.host/faq/what-is-holochain/

[4] https://medium.com/holochain/holochain-reinventing-applicati...


How is reducing the fungibility of money not a step backwards?


Using this pattern increases fungibility. Could I ask you to share what makes you think it decreases fungibility?


> When I buy a ticket, my ticket is tied to a certain seat on the train. If I went to Mars, my ticket would be worthless.

What if I don't want a train ticket? What if I want to sell my widget-coin for some brussel-sprouts-coin. Now I can't go to any farmer because he's only got carrot-coin or broccoli-coin, I have to find the brussel sprouts farmer-and not only that, but the brussel sprouts farmer who wants to buy widgets.

And if you say "nonsense, you can exchange any coin for any other coin", how is that different from what we have now?


It’s different because the US dollar is the worlds’ reserve currency, and it is violently backed by US imperialism.

The MetaCurrency Projects’ Holochain is the next generation P2P no-middle-man accounting system which open sources and decentralizes the rules around money creation and usage. It allows us to evolve the rules together and build mutual credit, interoperable, open and unencloseable carrier’ currencies. Currencies are backed by real world commodities, leading to a rich network of flows between a community.

Your comparison shows me that you might not yet have had the privilege of critically exploring the underlying patterns and stories that have made Industrial Age money the tool it is today. For me ‘The Future of Money’ by Bernard Lietaer, and David Graeber’s ‘Debt: The First 5000 Years’ are very paradigm shifting books and helped me to challenge the underlying stories of economics that I believed. These stories stopped me from seeing a more beautiful future.


Sadly a lot of the mechanisms behind bitcoin make for it to be difficult to use in a vast transaction setting (millions/sec, similar to credit cards), which would be required for using its blockchain for proof of work purposes.

That’s why alternatives exist in order to solve these “problems” that the BTC community either choose not to fix or simply won’t. It’ll be interesting to see what crypto people would intend to use for something like IPFS.


IPFS is from the crypto people. This is what blockchain advocates put forward as the solution to mass storage for their blockchain dreams.

IPFS is basically BitTorrent with magnet links - hashes to address content, if you want to be sure your obscure content will stay around then you have to seed it, etc. There's some fancier stuff on top, but if you know that's how it works, all else follows.

You can tell how "blockchain" IPFS is from the way that advocates seem chronically unable to tell "could" from "does" - stuff that doesn't exist and/or doesn't work is routinely talked about as if it's here and working in the present. This leads to disappointed posts like the one linked.


IPFS is useful to blockchain projects because of the permanence of content hashes. That doesn’t mean it’s not also useful to many others. QRI is using it as the publishing medium and backing store for all kinds of data sets, for example. No blockchain, just shared storage across interested parties.

You make a really good point about communicating readiness - the author of the post is expecting more from pre-alpha software than it is ready to provide.


IPFS has had public releases since 2015 with rhetoric implying general utility, not to mention $300M in funding. If it’s still “pre-alpha software” that’s not a mere communications problem.


Er, I meant pre-beta not pre-alpha. It's still in development. Sounds like the core API is pretty much settled and not expected to change (much).

Building a platform is not like building an app. And a platform that changes significant parts of internet infrastructure is different from just building any platform. I worked on Firefox for 13 years... the internet is a harsh and fickle thing.

That said, people are using IPFS with millions of users today.

I very much agree about the rhetoric. The homepage is polished, and speaks to a bunch of features that are possible to varying extents in varying environments, but not easy to demonstrate. Bandwidth savings is a good example of this.


> That said, people are using IPFS with millions of users today.

This seems like the thing they should lead with: what are those users doing and why would be a great way to explain the value.


The real threat to free internet is not Azure or AWS but things like AMP. You can still host your website even on a server in your basement.

IPFS is a great idea but it is very hard to implement something like this. It was tried before (hello Wuala) but no success. I am not sure if this idea can be implemented at all.


The middle ground might be to use a local hosting company that has it's own servers and racks. Pay a bit more, but boycott the big clouds for personal websites. You could probably host a few dozen static blogs on a physical machine for say $100/m. If 100 people do that it's affordable.


> You could probably host a few dozen static blogs on a physical machine for say $100/m.

100 bucks!? I host a dozen unique domains with static content (and a few other services) on a 1/1 VPS for 3 euros/month. At Hetzner, not at a hyperscaler.


Yeah I was thinking a whole server not vm.


Even a real-metal physical box can be had for far less than $100. Even excluding the ranges that are out of stock Kimsufi has a number of options that are more than capable of running "dozens of static blogs" with ease for <$20/month (the €8/month Atom based machine would do the job, as would the currently-out-of-stock €4/month ones).

There are other providers with comparable offers, I mention Kimsufi because for some time I've had one of their low spec units running a couple of simple tasks.

You are not going to be getting brand-new unused high-spec kit with that sort of deal, of course, but you pays your money, you takes your choice!


Uberspace [1] does something like this in Germany. You get to pay what you want, too.

[1]: https://uberspace.de/en/

Edit: I'm not affiliated with them other than being a customer.


> If 100 people do that it's affordable.

If one of those people doesn't mind running as sys-admin and help-desk for the rest...

Though your $100/m is rather higher than it needs to be for that level of service so you won't need the same number of people for that cost/person, someone is still taking on a part-time job doing admin for others.


Decentralizing how we link, address, and move content is the basis of IPFS and Filecoin both. Both are solving different parts of moving our digital infrastructure to infrastructure that we control, that we govern, and that we are not held hostage by.

While we still have a long road to go w/ IPFS usability, it’s worth pointing to what works today -- there are millions of end users benefiting from IPFS, 100Ks of libp2p nodes, we see PBs/mo of traffic in the infrastructure that we run, and millions of daily requests to our gateway. Look to fully decentralized applications and systems like OpenBazaar, Textile, Dtube which use IPFS and paving the way. New technology -- especially new technology that seeks to build new platforms from the ground up -- is hard and extensive to build, and to polish. We’re working on it, and though nowhere close to where we want to be yet, there’s a lot of utility already provided.

Re Filecoin incentive structure -- this comes from recognizing that computers are not all the same -- there is huge utility to be had in dedicated infrastructure running 24/7, well maintained, high performance spread out around the world. P2P systems of the past have failed to match the reliability, uptime, and performance levels of centralized systems. Cryptocurrencies enable the creation of Open Services (like Bitcoin) that run public infrastructure w/ high uptime and reliability guarantees. With Filecoin, we aim to bring that to file storage and distribution. More here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h2WNxEV8q4


Opera 11 could act as a server back in 2008 but nobody use it then so :/


There happens to be a great solution for this known as gaia hubs: https://docs.blockstack.org/ which you can learn about in these docs in conjunction with the immutable identities associated with them.

I have also in more context spoken recently with someone and convinced them why they should use gaia over IPFS: https://forum.blockstack.org/t/cannot-find-ipfs-driver/6147

and they brought up some other usability issues not mentioned in this critique, particularly about file pinning to keep files alive, and in general the waste behind the idea of data duplication by not separating out the auth of the user owned data with the duplication of the data itself in the DHT network, for which Blockstack has "Atlas".


> Why a "Filecoin"? We already have a tested and working native internet currency: bitcoin.

Filecoin's promise is to be tightly coupled with file storage, to set up contracts that are automatically enforced by the network. Bitcoin does not do this.

I don't know much about it, but maybe Ethereum could be used to do that, though


Or you could just use siacoin, which already does this for storage




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