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Getting Started With Arweave

Our entire life, we have been told what we post on the internet lives forever. While this might be true for that photo you're embarrassed of, generally, the data that existed on the internet when we were younger, is gone. We currently depend on a slew of companies to store and access our data. What's crazy is the vast majority of us have never given a dollar to Google or Facebook. Yet their trillion-dollar valuations make them some of the most valuable companies of all time. While during my life I have benefited from the network effects these platforms created, and I can currently look back on the majority of my life through Facebook memories, something isn't right with leaving our footprint to these technology behemoths with cartel-like behavior over YOUR data. Web 2.0 is unsustainable - and why would you want it to be?

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I think for a lot of people, creating a sort of digital footprint, one future generation can look back on, is starting to bubble up in one's mind. With the current state of the web, we aren't choosing what sticks around. I already regret a whole slew of Instagram photos I deleted back when I was younger. I basically erased a good part of my digital past. There has to be a better way to pass on these important digital memories. Really, if Facebook is still relevant when my great-grandkids are around - God helps us all.

Arweave is such a perspective shifter, that I think naturally we kinda shrug it off. Permanent data storage -- sure. Oh and on top of a blockchain?? okay my guy! Yet, the further I dig into Arweave the more I am convinced. I think the crucial part of Arweave is that for a miner to receive a reward - not only do they have to mine (store) the new data from the Blockweave on their hardware, they also have to return a random document that the network demands. With the right incentive structure, you can encourage the right parties, to store data forever. Obviously, I am simplifying the array of protocols that made something like Arweave possible, but the cool thing is to interact with Arweave and permastorage you really don't need to understand what is going on. This will also become easier over time, using ArDrive it can already feel like uploading a file to Dropbox.

You might know Arweave through Metaplex - or the Solana defacto standard for creating NFTs. When creating these NFT's, what is actually happening is that each image is being uploaded to Arweave, and the corresponding URL is appended to that particular tokens metadata.

The coolest thing is that Arweave is more than just simple data storage and retrieval protocol. Which is fast by the way. It is a platform to ensure memories, perspectives, and data can be put into the record, permanently. Personally, I've never had an issue with being censored. I've been lucky enough my whole life to share my opinions freely, without any repercussions or take-backs. This is clearly not true for everyone. Arweave allows us to upload data now, and judge later.

Beyond images, you can upload entire web applications, smart contracts, and other forms of multimedia that will still the same - forever. What's interesting is that when you upload a website or web application, you have to think differently. This as is, will be the way it is forever. That is exciting! Who knows who will interact with my website, decades from now. This is a byproduct of the immutability of Arweave. Each block of data is cryptographically intertwined with the previous and following block. Lastly the economic model is what makes it sustainable. To upload an image it cost about 2 cents. This is both paying to upload the image immediately and then some of that transaction is going into an endowment. Because storage gets cheaper over year the relatively purchasing power of that endowment goes up. Effectively acting like interest.

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Arweave isn't something we can learn in a day, or a simple article. It's a journey that connects deeply with you. What does permanent mean to you? What do you want to leave behind. Do you want to help a certain group digitize their history? This is just the beginning of a deep exploration of Arweave. In the next article, I will be deploying a website to the permaweb. You won't believe how easy it is.

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