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Permanent data storage is inherently social

Pascal Barry
Pascal Barry
13 Aug 2021 · 4 min read
Perm storage inherently social

The weave

The Arweave blockchain, sometimes referred to simply as ‘the weave’, is a paradigm changing technology that is currently flying under the radar. Through means of an endowment mechanism, it offers sustainable, decentralised and perpetual data storage through a ‘pay once, store forever’ model.

The mission to store data forever was inspired by George Orwell’s novel, 1984, and the dystopian future it described, where past historical records were destroyed in order to control the behaviour of people in the present.

Already we have seen startling examples of how the weave is delivering on its mission to create a permaweb, where information and applications can be preserved and stored forever in their original and unalterable form. Apple Daily, a pro-democracy Hong Kong tabloid, uploaded its content to the weave before the Chinese government it shut down. In July, the US Senate discussed Arweave and its potential to prevent authoritarian censorship.

Beyond censorship resistance

Beyond delivering a means to prevent authoritarian censorship and the manipulation of past events, there are many use cases for the weave’s permanent storage.

One of Akord’s main use cases is to provide people with the ability to ensure their digital heritage and that of their family for generations to come. Whether it’s storing the photos of your children, recordings from the garage rock band of your teen years, or preserving the OCR scan of your grandfather’s war memoirs, we all have countless digital files that we’d like to safeguard and make accessible to our children, their children, and all the generations that follow.

We can also see the need to preserve records for many generations in the context of NGOs and foundations working with long term objectives to preserve culture and social history.

Lawyers and notaries working on estates and trusts are also invested in safeguarding records in a secure space across many generations.

Investigative journalism and activists working on revealing corruption and documenting events have an obvious need to keep their work permanently secured.

Artists and other creatives are individuals who produce enormous bodies of work that can have great social, cultural and historical significance, as well as the potential to gain and appreciate value well past their own lifetimes.

These are just some of the possible instances where individuals, groups or organisations would greatly benefit from a simple, secure and permanent data storage solution.

The social dimension of forever data

Within all the potential use cases we’ve described we can clearly see a social dimension. This is because things you want to store forever have an inherently social value and dynamic.

If you want to store something forever, it’s because you intend for it to be shared; it’s because you deem it to have value for others. Whether it’s a document with historical significance, some personal memoirs or a work of art, when you want something to last long into the future it’s because you believe it will have value for others.

It’s a distinctly social and inter-personal dimension, and not economic, as the value we ascribe to what we store may have no value whatsoever in a commercial context. In the digital heritage example, what we are storing often has no monetary value, but priceless sentimental value for those who are related to us and invested in knowing about our life stories.

The process of storing and archiving this kind of data is also often inherently social, carried out by a group of people who collaborate in the collection and archiving of data.

Forever data, so to speak, is deemed to have value for a wider audience, so it naturally attracts a group of people in the process of managing this data. Whether it’s an institution archiving social records or a family storing their memories, there is the work behind the process and a conversation that enables it.

This social collaboration in itself will often further expand what’s collected as memories are triggered, ideas are shared and new material collectively unearthed.

The social vault

Everything in Akord happens through our vaults. We often refer to this space as the ‘social vault’.

When we think of a vault we imagine a very secure space where we store valuables, and this is certainly the case with Akord’s vaults. But unlike a physical vault, this space is also a hub of social interaction where people can communicate and collectively manage their assets.

The four key ingredients of the social vault: privacy, security, permanence and collaboration.

In regards to collaboration, we’re particularly aware of how our roadmap and path to becoming a fully decentralised app that lives on the permaweb must not impinge on this crucial ingredient of the social vault.

There are many services and a level of performance in a typical web 2.0 tech stack that easily facilitate highly interactive apps. While this can be trickier to achieve in a fully decentralised web3 model (see our article, Web3 and Owning Your Data, for more on this topic), it’s of course still possible. The web3 tech stack is evolving at an exciting pace making us confident that we can make this transition without sacrificing the user experience on this aspect of the social vault.

It’s this focus on, and commitment to, the collaborative process that makes Akord uniquely adapted to the purpose of permanent data storage.

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Integrating Arweave

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