Since the internet has emerged accessability of music and other media content has vastly improved. iTunes, amazon and simliar vendors offer millions of songs, books and movies instantly for relatively cheap prices. Sites like these pretty much guarantee that artistic and cultural content produced in our day and age will remain easily available and conserved for the future. However what about digital content that is not easily marketable and therefore not available on the big commercial platforms?

For instance what about free songs by lesser known bands, self-published mixtapes by no-name djs, live recordings from concerts or particular radio shows? Content like this might appear on some website, online forum or file-sharing site and then might be soon lost for various reasons. Maybe the creator of the content removes his account, maybe the website ceases to exist or a simple change in the url renders the old links to the content in question invalid.

I ran into this kind of problem a lot, especially after that one time I lost a bunch of mp3s due to my own stupidity and a lack of proper backups. My attempts to get a hold of particular dj-mixes I once possessed often ended in a 404.

A new piece of technology called the Interplanetary File System or IPFS tries to solve this problem and deliver the vision of a Permanent Web. The permanence is achieved, because every user that has a particular file in its IPFS-directory is sharing it with all other users (similar to bittorrent). Therefore as long as only one user has a file, the file is available to everybody.

Another advantage is that this design doesn’t have a central server as bandwidth bottleneck. The decentralized nature allows for potentially much higher download speeds. Over bittorrent the IPFS has the advantage that files are versioned similar to files in a GIT repository. This should make it easy to get new improved versions of a particular content.

The creators have set their aims high: “IPFS is becoming a new major subsystem of the internet. If built right, it could complement or replace HTTP. It could complement or replace even more. It sounds crazy. It is crazy.” (quoted from project description on github)

I am really looking forward to this distributed vision of the internet, among other reasons because it might help me rediscover lost recordings of obscure dj-sets.