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Learn > Arweave

The Permaweb

Muhammad Ahmed
Muhammad Ahmed
24 Jan 2024 · 4 min

Introduction

The Permaweb is Arweave's solution to a fundamental problem of the current state of the web: its transient nature.

As vast and expansive the internet is, it often feels ephemeral. A research study published in 2016 found that from 360 individual URLs sampled in 1995, only 2 remained active after a span of 20 years. 

This just shows that websites go offline, content gets removed, and memories once cherished on the web can vanish into thin air. One only needs to remember the rise and fall of platforms like Myspace and Vine to realise this truth.

The current web’s fleeting nature presents many challenges. If it doesn’t change, can we expect to see similar results in the future?

The original vision of the traditional web was to enable humanity to build an accessible collection of everything known to us. While this project has been largely successful, it suffers from one critical flaw: the web has no memory.

But what if there were a solution that ensures the permanence of digital content?

Enter Arweave’s Permaweb.

Possibilities of the Permaweb

At its core, the Permaweb is a collection of web pages and applications stored permanently, ensuring content remains accessible and unchanged forever. The Permaweb promises many exciting possibilities.

One significant benefit is the ability to host static web pages that never change or go offline. This permanence ensures that all links remain functional, a stark contrast to the prevalent problem of link rot and content drift where references and sources become obsolete or broken.

The Permaweb elevates decentralised apps (dApps) by guaranteeing their permanence. This advancement means that even if a corporation decides to discontinue a platform, your data remains secure and unaffected. With the Permaweb, a sudden shutdown of a service doesn’t pose a risk to its users. These applications, perpetually accessible, operate independently of central control.

Another essential characteristic of the Permaweb is censorship resistance. Through distributing content across a multitude of nodes, it guarantees continued access to information, even when faced with attempts by certain parties to suppress it. 

For creatives, Arweave's Universal Data License (UDL) has the potential to completely change the game. Traditionally, creators have grappled with the complexities of monetization and the often one-sided terms dictated by platforms. No longer are creators bound by stringent monetization rules; instead, they're empowered to define their own. By allowing custom tags and flexible licensing, the UDL grants content creators unparalleled control and agency over their content. The UDL is challenging the status quo, with the promise and potential to make the web more equitable.

The emergence of NFTs has revolutionised the way artists and creators authenticate and monetize their unique creations. However, the potential loss of these digital assets due to off-chain storage poses a serious threat to their longevity. In fact, 91% of NFTs are not stored on-chain, leaving them vulnerable. For the art and collectibles sector, the Permaweb offers a solution by providing a stable platform for the storage of NFTs. This ensures that the digital art or collectible linked to a NFT remains accessible indefinitely.


The tech behind the Permaweb

Arweave as the base protocol of the Permaweb. Arweave utilizes its unique blockweave structure alongside a sustainable endowment to ensure data longevity. For an in-depth understanding, please refer to this article.

Decentralized network of Gateways for access. These gateways act as bridges between the Permaweb and traditional web, allowing users to access Permaweb content through regular web browsers without needing special software. This enhances the usability and accessibility of the Permaweb. 

Smartweave contracts for execution. SmartWeave contracts are Arweave’s version of smart contracts. Unlike traditional smart contracts, these are executed off-chain and are integral in building decentralised applications (dApps) on the Permaweb. They enable the creation of decentralized applications (dApps) that are permanent and immutable, just like the data on the Permaweb. 

Atomic NFTs for proof of ownership. Atomic NFTs, which uniquely consolidate contract and asset data in a single transaction on Arweave, represent proof of ownership for a variety of data types. Whether they are digital artworks, ownership records, or other forms of digital assets, Atomic NFTs ensure that these are immutable and traceable over time. Interested in creating your own Atomic NFTs? Begin your journey at mint.akord.com.

Conclusion

The introduction of the Permaweb offers more than just a permanent storage solution; it's a whole web experience that's permanent and decentralized. But what exactly does the Permaweb unlock for you?

We'll be diving into each of the mentioned possibilities in detail in subsequent articles of this series. Here’s the next article on link rot.

The Arweave miniseries

This article is part of a miniseries designed to help readers discover Arweave. Each piece explores a different aspect of Arweave, from what inspired the project to its practical applications. Use the list below to navigate through the other articles in the series:

Winston the elephant

1984

We, Arweave's true inspiration? 

The Permaweb 📍 You are here

How Arweave solves link rot

Understanding Permanent dApps

Arweave is Censorship Resistant

Arweave’s Universal Data License

Arweave’s Atomic NFTs

How to archive with Arweave

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