The IPFS and the blockchain
Some of our readers have probably heard about the IPFS or InterPlanetary File System. It’s an hypermedia distribution protocol created to make the web faster, safer, and more open. The IPFS is designed to provide a decentralized alternative to the current http protocol that is censorship resistant and much more efficient.
Like Bitcoin, the IPFS is a peer-to-peer network run by multiple nodes that store files that are submitted to the network. These nodes store only content that are interesting, including common indexing information that helps users find the nodes that keep the files they are looking for within the network.
Each file submitted to the network is given a unique cryptographic hash that allows the IPFS network to automatically delete duplicates and track version history for every file. Historic versioning prevents information from being easily erased. Since the files are provided by distributed nodes, download speeds are higher.
These characteristics make the IPFS a perfect place to store data, which can be referenced and time stamped with blockchain technology.
“IPFS and the Blockchain are a perfect match! You can address large amounts of data with IPFS, and place the immutable, permanent IPFS links into a blockchain transaction. This timestamps and secures your content, without having to put the data on the chain itself.”
This creates a sort of beneficial relationship between the two technologies. Since blockchain technology is not fit to store large amounts of data, the IPFS can be used by blockchain applications that need a publicly accessible database. While the immutability provided by miners and the transparency of the blockchain, make it the perfect place to timestamp content and make it publically verifiable.
Some blockchain projects have already begun taking advantage of the IPFS network. One advantage is Novus, a software development firm leveraging the InterPlanetary File System and the Novusphere blockchain to create what they call the Advanced File Index (“AFIX”). This is a web based index that works as a layer and decentralized search engine for content within the IPFS.
Content on the IPFS can be submitted to the AFIX by anyone by referencing its unique cryptographic hash along with its title, description, and so on. Users can then search and view the content through the AFIX or through a Specific File Search Interface (SFSI), that searches for a specific type of content like video or images.
The project is still being developed, and there are plans to later integrated the Novusphere tokens, Atmos, with several monetization systems for users like content rating, a content request system, dispute resolution system and gateway advertisement.
Another project that is leveraging both technologies to build its platform is Embermine. A complete ecosystem platform created to empower content creators and provide them with a versatile operating system for their work that includes smart contract-driven revenue channels, a reputation-based collaboration network, identity protection and more. Embermine uses the InterPlanetary File System to store user files and encrypted Embermine application data.
As blockchain technology continues to be developed and integrated into multiple industries, the InterPlanetary File System will no doubt become an important backbone to blockchain-based applications.