Arweave’s Permaweb blockchain can host sites & apps forever
What if you could pay now to store something online permanently? You could preserve a website against censorship, save legal contracts or offer an app even after your company fails. That’s the promise of Arweave‘s Permaweb.
The startup has built a new type of Blockchain that relies on Moore’s Law-style declining data storage costs. Users pay for a few hundred years upfront (about half a cent per megabyte), and the interest accrued by the excess payment will perpetually cover the costs of shrinking storage prices.
The Permaweb quietly launched last June. More than 100 permanent apps have been built on Arweave’s infrastructure, including an email client in the last six months, while 50,000 objects were stored on the Permaweb in October alone. As long as some node operators keep hosting the data on unused hard drive space, they keep getting paid, and the sites, apps or files remain available. Instead of needing some special Blockchain browser to access what’s stored, the Permaweb can be accessed through traditional web browsers and URLs.
The potential of the Permaweb has attracted $5 million in funding led by Andreessen Horowitz’s a16z Crypto, and joined by other top Blockchain investors Union Square Ventures and Multicoin Capital, which have exchanged the cash for tokens from Arweave. Those tokens, and the rest Arweave is sitting on, could become increasingly valuable if the Permaweb becomes popular.
“Arweave’s mission is to become the new Library of Alexandria,” Arweave founder Sam Williams writes, “but invulnerable to the pitfalls of centralised points of failure, ensuring that humanity’s shared knowledge and history is available to all future generations.”
Filling Orwell’s memory hole
The idea spawned from a slew of PhD dropouts trying to address the fake news problem. They figured if sites or articles could be stored permanently in their original form, they couldn’t be changed or eradicated by a future despot.
The team discovered blockchains could handle this at small scale. But to decentralize large amounts of data, they de