The site looks like a minimalist version of The Pirate Bay or the late lamented KickassTorrents. The magic happens behind the scenes: Torrent Paradise is powered by IPFS (aka InterPlanetary File System). TorrentFreak explains:
“IPFS is a decentralized network where users make files available among each other. If a website uses IPFS, it is served by a ‘swarm’ of people, much like BitTorrent users do when a file is shared. The advantage of this system is that websites can become completely decentralized.”
Once content is out there in IPFS, there isn’t much that the authorities can do to take it down. IPFS is also invulnerable to technical and business-related single-point failures: If a central server stops working, and even if the company operating it goes out of business and stops maintaining its websites, the content is still out there.
The creator of Torrent Paradise, who goes by the Reddit handle urbanguagamole, told TorrentFreak:
“I feel like decentralizing search is the natural next step in the evolution of the torrent ecosystem. File sharing keeps moving in the direction of more and more decentralization, eliminating one single point of failure after another.”
“Because each update of Torrent Paradise is an IPFS hash, it is impossible for anyone, including me, to take down the site. As long as there’s someone pinning it (the IPFS equivalent of seeding), the site will be available.”
IPFS hashes and other IPFS features are explained in a readable primer titled “An Introduction to IPFS,” produced by ConsenSys Media.
It’s worth noting that the Torrent Paradise website, or better said the web interface to Torrent Paradise, can (and likely will) be taken down by the authorities. But, even if the web interface is taken down, users would still be able to access Torrent Paradise with an IPFS client, and a new web gateway would be easy to set up with a new domain name.
It seems that IPFS is a very credible technology base for a decentralized internet of the people, by the people, for the people.
Where is the catch? The catch is that users must manually install and configure IPFS nodes. “This is a relatively easy process, but the average web user may not be familiar with using a command line to set it up, which is a requirement,” notes TorrentFreak.
Many hardcore developers tend to consider these issues as pedestrian and unworthy of their attention, but they are wrong. I am persuaded that IPFS won’t become popular without a super simple one-click install (two clicks are too many and nobody will bother) and a super simple and intuitive user interface. But if IPFS becomes very easy to install and use, it could become very popular and bootstrap the decentralized web.
In related news, the developers of decentralized shopping platform OpenBazaar have announced Haven, a privacy-focused app for messaging and making purchases with cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin Magazine reports. Haven, which wants to “enable users to shop, chat, and send cryptocurrencies privately from their mobile device,” is powered by the OpenBazaar software and IPFS.
Image from NASA.