Impermanent file systems

d[c] uses OrbitDB and IPFS under the hood to store its data.

IPFS got something of a bad rap because people who don’t read documentation expected it to be automagic cloud storage that keeps data for free. However, someone needs to pin the file to keep it around.

There are other decentralized storage solutions such as Arweave, Storj, or SIA’s Skynet. Why IPFS, then?

For starters, OrbitDB. It’s a sensational piece of tech, built on IPFS, which we don’t have available anywhere else. We won’t go into the details here and will let d[c] Dog elaborate if they’re up for it.

But given there is a chance of impermanence, as Arweave’s Sam Williams points out, why not go with a solution where the data is permanently stored on the network, forever? Say, a blockchain or Arweave itself?

It’s because we see a lot of fundamental cases where people may want to delete something they’ve written in the past.

For example, their names.

We encourage people to use pseudonyms - and not merely one, either - but we expect that for average users, Facebook’s and Google’s continued hammering about doxxing yourself and single identities has conditioned them to go with their meatspace name first.

They may not mind it, initially, or even for a few years. But (as an example) what if three years after they posted a few things, a user transitions into a different gender? The behavior we’ve seen over the years in several communities, and the feedback we got, is that they would not want to have their deadname around - much less have it embedded on a blockchain forever, without any possibility of removal.

Being in control of your data doesn’t mean solely having the keys that stop anyone else from moving it around - it means being able to delete it altogether if you wish.

This being a blog, there will be concerns about what happens with the information you put out there: Google could cache it forever, or it could end up on the Internet Archive, or someone could mirror it on Arweave. But those would be concerns with any form of blog and, while we can’t directly help with them, we can ensure we don’t make things harder on d[c] users.

Published: 2021-10-02