Have you ever tried the Brave web browser? Since its founding in 2015, Brave Software has quite a record of innovation with its browser, but hasn’t made much of a dent in the browser usage competition.
Over the years, Brave has implemented:
- A built-in ad blocker that’s On by default
- Allowing Brave users to contribute (in cryptocurrency) to registered web publishers
- Allowing users to browse via the anonymous Tor network
Just last week, Brave added support for the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), a pathway to the distributed web. Jon Porter’s story on The Verge has the details. IPFS seeks to replace the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) as the way to access sites on the web. Instead of pointing to an address on a single web server, you point your browser to an IPFS node address. The content would exist on other IPFS users’ computers.
Costs of Innovation
You would think with its focus on privacy, Brave would be more popular than its claimed 24 million users. Implementation issues have plagued the browser, though.
- To placate sites (and advertisers) whose ads were blocked, Brave offered a scheme where users could agree to view “Brave Ads” sold by Brave Software. Users get crypto tokens as a Reward.
- The revenue from “Brave Ads” would fund the publisher payment program. Is it an accident that the Rewards support board averages 84 posts per week? Many of those posts are variations on the theme of “Where’s my money?”
Brendan Eich and Conservative Politics
Some of us will not forget that Brave’s CEO, Brendan Eich, was forced out of the CEO’s chair at the Mozilla Corporation in 2014. He contributed to an anti-gay-marriage campaign in California two years earlier.
More recently, he apparently joined in the disinformation campaign around COVID-19. He doesn’t like masks.
A decentralized alternative: Beaker
What all the news stories on Brave’s IPFS support miss is that there’s another peer-to-peer protocol that does very similar things. It’s called Hyperdrive (originally DAT), and is supported by the Beaker Browser, which I’ve written about before (here too).
The Beaker developers explain Hyperdrives like this in their documentation.
Works in Progress
I’ve played with IPFS a little, and suspect I might give it another whirl soon. Same with Hyperdrive and Beaker, which I’m a little more excited about. Go follow Paul Frazee on Twitter (@pfrazee) or YouTube (Paul Frazee) to see what’s he’s innovating on the peer-to-peer front.
The big problem with IPFS isn’t the technology per se, it’s that ordinary folks can’t access files stored on the system, even if the (Brave) browser supports it. There’s no effective search engine, or directory of the IPFS world.
Beaker/Hyperdrive/DAT has an index page to the sites they know about, but of course you have to open those sites with Beaker, the only browser to handle dat: or hyper: pages.
Looking forward to the next round of innovation for all these projects. May the best project win!
(Yes, the post is late this week. I’m the victim of two traditional Wisconsin catastrophes: The Packers lost on Sunday, and a nasty snowstorm hit last night. Aiming to do better in February…)