Instructions for Saving Endangered Data: It’s time to get decentralized.

The Situation: Endangered Data Woven into a Precarious Web

Don’t let important data get destroyed.

The Problem: Identifying Content by its Location

  • Always be open, 24/7, in case someone wants to read the book.
  • Provide the book to everyone who seeks the book, whether it’s one person or hundreds of thousands of people.
  • Protect the integrity of the book by preventing anyone from tampering with it.
  • Never remove the book from its shelf — if they get rid of it, or even move it, my link is broken and nobody will be able to use my instructions to find the book.
  • Dictate who is allowed to see the book.
  • Move the book without telling anyone.
  • Destroy the book.
  • Charge people money to access the book or force them to watch ads when they walk in the door.
  • Collect data about everyone who accesses my book, using that information however they want.
  • Replace the book with something else — They might not even put a book there, since my instructions are just describing a location, a malicious actor could replace the book with something dangerous, turning the location into a trap!

The Solution: Identify Information by its Fingerprint, not its Location

Files and all of the blocks within them have unique fingerprints called cryptographic hashes.
When looking up files with IPFS, you’re asking the network to find nodes that can return the content corresponding to that unique hash.

How to Do It: Write Content onto IPFS and Publish the Hashes

  1. Install an IPFS node on a machine (laptop, desktop, server, etc.) that has internet access.
  2. Add the content to your IPFS node.
  3. Tell your peers the cryptographic hashes (aka fingerprints) for the content you added to IPFS.
  4. Let your peers replicate copies of the content onto their machines by “pinning” the hashes in their IPFS nodes

Writing Content onto IPFS

Pinning Data to Save It

Publishing the Hashes

Do I have to worry about Bad Content coming onto my machine?

Covering Your Bases: Strategies for Making your Content Resilient

Talk to a Librarian

Achieving Redundancy

Ensuring Availability

Ensuring Authenticity

Dealing with Versioning

Preserving Data

Why the Established Tools Aren’t Good Enough

What’s wrong with just moving the data to a new, trusted location?

Why isn’t it enough to have everyone download copies of the data?

Can’t we use the cloud to back up the data?

design by Chris Watterston

Can Libraries Save the Day?

Become a Steward of Your Data

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Working to decentralize the web while striving to meet the world with bravery, generosity and kindness. Program Manager at Protocol Labs, creators of IPFS.

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flyingzumwalt

flyingzumwalt

Working to decentralize the web while striving to meet the world with bravery, generosity and kindness. Program Manager at Protocol Labs, creators of IPFS.

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