Most of us have used the Internet Archive or Wayback Machine to venture into the past and dig up pages from a long-dead website. But what happens if the Archive itself goes down? To address this shortcoming, the Internet Archive is also available via the “decentralised web”, which has no single point-of-failure.
Right now, the decentralised web, or “Dweb”, is slower and less functional than the internet we know, but that should get better over time, according to the Internet Archive’s FAQ.
But wait… isn’t the web already decentralised? I’ll let the FAQ explain:
The way we code the Web shapes how we live our lives online. Ideally, that code should protect user privacy, freedom of expression and universal access to all knowledge. Instead, centralised points of control make it easier for governments that are so inclined to censor and conduct surveillance, and for private companies to collect, share and monetise more personal information than many users would like.
A goal in creating a Decentralised Web is to reduce or eliminate such centralised points of control. That way, too, if any player drops out, the system still works. Such a system could better help protect user privacy, ensure reliable access, and even make it possible for users to buy and sell directly, without having to go through websites that now serve as middlemen, and collect user data in the process.
You might expect Dweb to use blockchain technology / distributed ledger — which was designed for this kind of application — however, it instead uses a number of different protocols as gHacks’ Martin Brinkmann points out, including Webtorrent and IPFS (InterPlanetary File System).
It’s an ambitious project, for sure, with the odds stacked against it. But then, so was the idea of the Internet Archive and Wayback Machine.