I've been fascinated by the Inter Planetary File System (IPFS) for the past several months. It's one of those technologies that I initially dismissed as unimportant because the overall concept is simple, but it continues to amaze me because it has powerful applications.
It's essentially a globally distributed Merkle tree, with each chunk addressed by its hash. It is content-addressable and inherently deduplicated as a result of this configuration. Furthermore, IPFS provides a POSIX-like file system interface, resulting in an easy-to-use API for new users. This configuration makes it very accessible and scalable.
IPFS is best known for storing off-chain blockchain data, such as the content of an NFT. In addition, FileCoin, an incentive layer for IPFS, is being developed to encourage miners to store data. This one astounds me because you normally pay more for more storage. However, because of FileCoin and IPFS, service providers are incentivized to offer massive amounts of free storage to users, such as up to 1 TB in Web3.Storage.
IPFS can also be used to store data that is threatened by censorship or downtime. Because everything is content-addressed, if one gateway is blocked, simply use another to access the content (related reading: https://medium.com/likecoin/can-ipfs-the-distributed-web-fight-against-content-censorship-300e55cbf88c). We recently used IPFS to archive historical texts that were threatened with censorship.
As part of our undergraduate thesis, we created a decentralized file-sharing application that can securely facilitate peer-to-peer file transfers between users (without the use of a middleman server that can spy, hoard, or misuse data). Current versions are available at https://github.com/JustroX/ipfs-client/releases.
Overall, it's been a lot of fun to experiment with new technologies and turn them into tools that are useful in today's society. Furthermore, I'm thrilled to have met an IPFS developer community that is both generous and helpful. IPFS even gave me some goodies as a reward! I'm extremely grateful:))