Hashes In Space

18 Sep 2015

IPFS - InterPlanetary File System - is an open source project to create a “permanent web”, one that avoids the broken links and single points of failure arising from HTTP. Kyle at NeoCities explains this in far more detail, but the core idea is to replace URLs with hashes, resulting in content-addressed links.

We use such hashes extensively at Cydar to wrangle the data flowing through our distributed system, so I know first hand that they’re a straightforward and effective way to tackle this. Content hashes solve the two hard problems in computer science: names are unambiguous and can be generated locally, and the corresponding content is effectively immutable, meaning cache invalidation isn’t required. Throw in the fact that integrity checking is built in, and you have a compelling approach to handling distributed data.

IPFS is by no means perfect. In particular, while I like the content addressable part, I’m less convinced about the blockchain-based naming mechanism. Nevertheless, there’s definitely enough there to make it worth keeping an eye on.

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