[vcf-midatlantic] Could a Blockchain based file system be the answer!

David Riley fraveydank at gmail.com
Thu Dec 21 13:07:54 EST 2017


On Dec 21, 2017, at 12:46 PM, Dave McGuire via vcf-midatlantic <vcf-midatlantic at lists.vintagecomputerfederation.org> wrote:
> 
> On 12/21/2017 12:06 PM, Herb Johnson via vcf-midatlantic wrote:
>> Torrents, blockchain, distributed file systems - all "hammers" looking
>> for a "nail", in my opinion as an engineer among other engineers. I'm
>> scanning manuals and making them available, thank you, and I have my own
>> tools. When my "cathedral" falls, the people who got my content, will
>> resurrect it; and I may provide for other "cathedrals" too; and for what
>> was in mine. Thanks for reminding me of this issue.
> 
>  Please forgive me for saying so, but this is a very curmudgeonly
> attitude.  Just because a tool is new, doesn't necessarily mean that
> it's useless.  Further, none of these things are even all that new.
> People are now starting to find new applications for blockchain
> technology, in particular for data preservation and insurance of
> immutability.  This is a good thing, not a bad thing.  If you don't want
> to participate in it, don't, and that's ok.  But I for one am convinced
> that that's how this stuff will be preserved in the future.

My primary issue with blockchain is that it's a good solution for one particular thing (which you mentioned above), but now that cryptocurrency has exploded everyone wants to use it for everything without knowing what it is or why (per the Perl saying, "when all you have is scissors, everything starts to look like a nail").

It's great for making verified, immutable, distributed histories, and if your problem space fits into that, then great!  I think there are some aspects of filesystems (particularly distributed ones) that can benefit from that.  But then I also see nonsense like this, and I despair: http://markets.businessinsider.com/currencies/news/long-island-iced-tea-company-pivots-to-blockchain-stock-explodes-2017-12-1011743880

I'm certainly not saying that there's no role for blockchain ideas in digital preservation, but I'm definitely worried about how the whole blockchain concept has turned into some sort of digital snake oil that purports to fix everything.

It's the same boat I'm in for IoT; my masters' thesis was on wireless sensor networks just a year or two before the Internet of Things "revolution" exploded, and the dilution of the term and the rush to commercialize it without any thought as to why or what the consequences would be have done a great deal of harm to the field.


- Dave




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