Arweave is a decentralized data storage protocol specifically developed to allow users to store documents as well as applications on what is known as the permaweb. The permaweb is a collection of data, websites, and decentralized applications (dApps), which forms a permanent, decentralized web that is accessible through regular internet browsers.
Currently, all websites, information, as well as data that make up the content of the internet are changed often, redacted, and removed altogether. Data storage is controlled by centralized entities that can mediate access to said websites and apps and can even revoke them at any point in time they see fit. All data stored in a centralized way can also easily be lost, manipulated, or censored, and as such, websites and applications could disappear at a point in time when funding for their maintenance becomes unavailable.
Arweave is a project specifically developed to solve the issue of data impermanence on the web, through offering a resilient and decentralized information protocol aimed at preservation. Arweave is a storage type that backs data with sustainable and perpetual endowments, allowing users and developers to truly store data forever.
Arweave is a decentralized storage network intended to connect people with disk space on their computer hardware, typically those who have an excess number of hard drives or solid-state drives, to those who are in need of storage. It is designed to provide scalable, cost-efficient, and permanent data storage.
To make all of this work, Arweave is built on a blockchain-like data structure known as the blockweave. The blockweave was developed to solve two problems that were heavily associated with public, decentralized blockchain, which included on-chain constraints and unsuitable consensus mechanisms.
Blockweave is designed to enable scalable, on-chain storage in a cost-efficient manner. As the amount of data stored in the system increases, the amount of hashing that becomes a requirement for consensus ends up decreasing. This ultimately reduces the cost of storing the data in question. The blockweave underpins the permaweb.
Blockweave is made up of a collection of blocks, all of which hold information that makes up the websites as well as the applications accessible on the aforementioned permaweb. Blocks in a traditional blockchain infrastructure typically only get linked to the previous block within the chain linearly. Arweave’s blockweave architecture mixes things up a bit, as each block gets linked to both the preceding block and the second block from the network's blockweave history, known as its recall block. The recall block plays a key role in the unique consensus mechanism that powers Arweave, known as Proof-of-Access (PoA).
Blockweave gets maintained through the utilization of miners, all of which need to provide disk space and replicate the data stored within the network to get AR tokens. To mine, or in this case, verify a new block, they have to provide cryptographic proof that they indeed have access to the block's recall block. Due to this, Arweave’s consensus mechanism, called Proof-of-Access (PoA), is a variation of the Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus algorithm seen on blockchains such as Bitcoin’s blockchain. The main reason Proof-of-Access (PoA) was developed is to incentivize long-term data storage due to the fact that miners have to access older, random blocks within the blockweave’s history in order for them to be able to mine new blocks and receive mining rewards for doing so.
Additionally, this consensus system allows and even incentivizes miners to store blocks that are otherwise not widely replicated due to the fact that when a rare recall block gets selected, miners that have access to it compete with fewer miners for the reward. Miners are, however, not obligated to store all of the data of the network, and Arweave even allows miners to pick which blocks as well as transactions they are interested in storing.
Every miner out there can establish what is known as a content policy, which prohibits certain data from being stored by the miner in question. When the data gets distributed to the network, it gets canned against the content policies of each miner and will not get accepted within a miner's transaction pool if it contains content which the miner has set as prohibited.
Wildfire is the self-organizing topology system found within Arweave. It is intended to ensure that the miners are incentivized to store and share data as quickly as possible with other miners in the network to build a positive reputation. As the nodes in blockweave networks require fast access to data as a means of mining a lot more efficiently, they are incentivized to give data to other members of the network promptly and on a continual basis, autonomously providing the sharing to fast speeds.
As a means of supporting a network that allows for long-term, on-chain data storage, Arweave requires a system that supports unlimited-sized blocks. Arweave achieves this by utilizing a system that decouples transaction distribution from block distribution within the network. This allows only the shadow of the block to be moved around the system, including the instructions required to rebuild the block from its constituent transactions rather than the full block. This, in turn, means that the information required to process large blocks can be distributed efficiently across the network because it would weigh in kilobytes.
Arweave can be used in decentralized data storage, decentralized data sharing, decentralized data collaboration, and decentralized data identity and protection.
Personal and corporate files can be stored for one fee instead of ongoing monthly costs, which are often found with other storage protocols, which makes the data immutable, verifiable, and censorship-resistant.
The price of the AR tokens can be lower than the monthly fees for competitors. However, this is dependent on the lifetime of storage. The blockweave also ensures the availability of data near instantly due to its design and has a 100% uptime guarantee through the incentive mechanism which is implemented for the miners. Additionally, any content can be uploaded anonymously and shared with anyone. This is because Arweave’s protocol design has an embedded mathematical pricing function, which load-balances demand and supplies fair prices.
Arweave also enables the initiation of an immutable decentralized database, which means that data can be open to anyone that requests to view and challenge its quality. With Arweave, any piece of content can be captured with a timestamp and archived in the blockweave, which in turn provides a clear claim of IP and ownership.
At the creation of the Arweave genesis block, 55 million AR tokens were created. This is an event that occurred on June 8, 2018. Additionally, 11 million AR would gradually be introduced into circulation as block mining rewards. In order for a user to be able to store data within the blockweave, each user has to pay fees in the form of AR tokens. This is due to the fact that Arweave miners need to receive the AR tokens in exchange for the process of them mining new blocks, which obligates them to actually store the data in question.
The transaction fees do not go entirely to the miner, and the majority of the transaction fee gets allocated to a storage endowment, which is then distributed to miners throughout time. The user pays an upfront fee on which interest accrues, which then gets distributed to the miners. The goal here is to limit the amount of volatility regarding the AR token and ensure the long-term viability of the mining-based consensus mechanism used here.
This means that payments within the network are calculated with the assumption that the storage cost will fall over time. Due to this, paying for storage on the Arweave network can be seen as paying a one-time, upfront fee for permanent data storage.
Arweave is a project initially founded by two people Samd Williams and William Jones.
- Sam Williams
- William Jones
They are both Ph.D. candidates at the University of Kent. Initially, Williams came to the project with experience in decentralized and distributed systems because he had developed an operating system known as HydrOS as a part of his studies. However, Jones had his focus set on graph theory and neural networking. Williams ended up dropping out of graduate school with the goal in mind of focusing on the company, while Jones left the project early in mid-2018 and completed his Ph.D. as a result of doing so.
The idea for Arweave occurred when Williams was walking up a mountain in Scotland; he then brought the concept to Jones and developed the technical details. Once Arweave ended up launching, Williams was named an advisor to Minespider, which is a company that provides blockchain-based supply chain tracking for the raw materials industry, and was also a mentor for the Techstars accelerator program.
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