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Welcome to the Decentralised Public Library!

Updated: May 8, 2019


What is the DPL?


The DPL initiative will be focused on creating a truly permanent, hand-curated archive of human history. We will be working to permanently preserve vital pieces of human knowledge, utilising the unique features of cryptographically verified ‘blockweave’ technology to do so. This safeguards the information, ensuring reliable access for future generations.


Why was the DPL started?

Simply put, information in archives, libraries, data centres, online, and even in our own homes is surprisingly vulnerable to accidental or intentional damage and loss. Just like any physical building libraries, archives, and data centres suffer from fires, theft, and natural disasters, despite their best efforts.


Results of a fire in the Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences of Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, on the 31st January 2015
  • Sadly, even using a cloud storage service such as Amazon Drive, Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, or One Drive doesn’t guarantee the safety of data. With a cloud provider, your data can become inaccessible, changed, or even lost for a lot of different reasons, including if:

  • the company stops offering the storage service or goes bankrupt altogether

  • you stop paying their service fees

  • the data is found to contradict their storage policies

  • their servers are subject to malicious attack

  • their data centres are physically damaged

  • they have a service outage

  • an employee at the company deletes your data unintentionally

  • they experience a technical glitch

So, cloud storage can be simple to use, but unfortunately these services can’t provide a truly reliable and permanent means of securing humanity’s collective knowledge-base. Similarly, running your own data storage servers is possible, but requires that you mitigate many of the risks above yourself, independently, and so might not be viable for non-specialists.


As well as accidental damage, information is also vulnerable to purposeful attack. For example, there are many examples from history of information in archives being censored and destroyed by government forces.


Before (top) and after (bottom) secret police official Nikolai Yezhov was removed from official images by USSR government censors, following his fall from Stalin’s favour.

Sadly, these problems continue today. For example, in 2017 the Cambridge University Press complied with a branch of the Chinese government and censored hundreds of academic articles which now can’t be accessed from China.


What is the goal of the DPL?


In short, the goal of the DPL is to ‘defeat data death’ — that is, to prevent the accidental or intentional loss of information from human consciousness. We want to make information immortal, and we have the technology available to do so. We believe that free access to information is critical to the wellbeing and progression of humankind, allowing us to ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ aiding our future discovery and creation efforts greatly.


How will the DPL work?


The DPL will work closely with large information sources such as libraries and archives, but also with small and unique sources of primary data. For example, if you or a family member have a special collection of documents — perhaps your grandfather’s war diaries, an array of vintage newspapers, or even an old hard drive stocked full of internet memes — the DPL will want to speak with you! The aim is to make the process cost-free, simple, and convenient for those providing data, making it easy as possible to get this information preserved. The aim is collect a very wide array of data from across the globe, though for practicality reasons we will focus on English-language data sources initially, looking at expansion in the future.


The DPL is an initiative of the Arweave project, creators of the ‘blockweave’ data storage technology. The Arweave project will donate storage space on the blockweave for use by the DPL, offering the permanent back-up of historically important or obscure data at no additional cost to the information providers.


We are always extremely eager to hear from the community!


If you have interesting data that you think the DPL should store, or you are associated with an archive, library, or other institution that would be open to collaborating with the DPL, we would love to speak to you! You can email me directly at india@arweave.org.


Here’s to a decentralised, immutable archive of human history!


-India Raybould