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@masukomi

Need help "getting" the "why" of dat:

I feel like i'm missing something about #dat I get that publishing without a server is awesome and most people have no interest in maintaining their own (even shared hosting), but for anyone to see it when I am personally offline i need a server / always on peer.

For anyone to find my stuff i need DNS, but the dat DNS story seems to be based on the .well-known RFC which requires a web server to host some file. Then I have to keep the /.well-known/dat file up to date with all the appropriate hashes (or maybe just 1? not sure).

For someone who already has a web server this seems like more work for no benefit + most shared servers don't want you running little servers on them so i'd either have to upgrade to a VPS or set up a second server to be my always on dat peer.

For someone who doesn't already have a web server they now need a web server in order for anyone to access their dat + a dat peer, so it's failed right off the bat in the "easy for non-geeks" realm.

I'm honestly failing to see why this is better, or what this buys me.

I want to join the dat train. I feel like there's something really good there. I love the idea of the easy cloning of dat app ...things. But the requirement for a server (or two) to make anything findable just makes me think this is never going to catch on or be worth the effort. And yes, I know about https://hashbase.io/ I don't count that as a valid solution because now i'm right back to depending on some centralized system managed by a company.

What am I missing? Why should I be all "hell yeah!" about dat?

@Luandro

You can use SSB to make your Dats discoverable. They're made for each other :heart:

If you're not a geek and don't want to setup a server you just serve your content from your own device, and if it's valuable for other people, they will also be peers for your content. It's a sort of filter I guess, the more value your content has the more peers.

@andrestaltz

@masukomi Even though Dat content "requires" you to have a server always online, what it brings as a benefit is that it separates availability from addressing.

With the web, a URL is both the availability and the address of the content. If the server for that URL dies, you cannot find the content elsewhere, the content's address is strictly attached to the availability of the content. With Dat, Alice can create the content and its address is now a cypherlink (a hash) which anyone can use. Bob can make it available (seeding) it and give it an alias (like DNS). Or Alice could have done that, it doesn't matter.

About discoverability, that's another thing. Names are one way of discovering, but technically one could build an entire Wikipedia clone where all links are raw Dat cypherlinks, and content would still be discoverable, by navigating many links.

So yeah, to me Dat is a big deal, because it decouples content availability from content authorship. You could imagine one person authoring a ton of Dats with raw cypherlinks, and another person volunteering to seed those and give them DNS aliases. It gains us a bit more freedom than before.

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@staltzphone

kas, I think one process can seed many. At least that's clear when you use the Dat Desktop app

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@Jacob

@masukomi

There's WIP to be able to publish your dat:// links directly to DNS txt records. I can't find the issue on github atm but it's mentioned here at least https://github.com/beakerbrowser/beaker/wiki/Dat-DNS-TXT-records-with-optional-DNS-over-HTTPS

@Jacob

@masukomi
There it is! https://www.datprotocol.com/deps/0005-dns/

@hoz

@kas look at hypercored, can serve up multiple dat:// archives (listed in a feeds file).

https://docs.datproject.org/server

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@Todd

@Luandro

Can you elaborate on

You can use SSB to make your Dats discoverable

and/or point me to something that does? Thanks

@Luandro

Hey @Todd, it's actually quite a simple concept of using SSB to create an organized index of Dat hashes. It's what I'm doing with the App Hub, u can follow the steps here to test it out.

@Todd

Thanks @Luandro
I am excited to test it out.

@masukomi

Thanks for all the great feedback folks. Sorry about the delayed response.

Even though Dat content "requires" you to have a server always online, what it brings as a benefit is that it separates availability from addressing.
With the web, a URL is both the availability and the address of the content. If the server for that URL dies, you cannot find the content elsewhere, the content's address is strictly attached to the availability of the content. - @andrestaltz

I had not pondered that aspect of it.

To me they are separated in http but in a slightly different perspective. addresses exist, and are valid, regardless of if the server's up. they just don't get you anything if it goes away. When the server is up it can interpret the address however it wants to serve up stuff from a db (or whatever) that has no resemblance to the folder structure shown in the url. They feel pretty decoupled to me. BUT i get that that's not exactly what you were saying.

So yeah, to me Dat is a big deal, because it decouples content availability from content authorship.

I feel like that's really important, but that i'm missing something. Lets say i put up a dat page. What causes someone else to have a copy of it? I'm not clear on how i "seed" it. I assume that Beaker (or whatever) handles that behind the scenes for me, and i don't need to worry about it, but how does anyone know it's there? What causes them to download it and have a copy for replication? Surely you wouldn't want a copy of everything up there. Assuming I'm using beaker, do i only have a copy of dat urls i've visited? If so i'm slightly mind-boggled that that results in enough people having a copy that i see it when i happen to be online.

I feel like with dat we have an address that... I dunno it feels like a weird state. It may or may not work depending on if the content has propegated out of the original host or not. So, it's almost as if you've got a shrodinger's server with dat.

Since Dat is a distributed (peer-to-peer) data sharing tool, a computer must be actively sharing a dat for it to be available. If you're sharing files over Dat, you might want to set up a dedicated server that re-hosts your dat. This means that it'll still be available even after you turn off your personal computer. - Dat Documentation

Things like this are the big roadblock for me. I get the theory of what you're saying Andre but it seems like the practical reality is that we're in essentially the same world as before. If I want you to see my stuff when it's convenient to you I have to set up a server.

Please, (not sarcastic) tell my why i'm wrong.


There's WIP to be able to publish your dat:// links directly to DNS txt records - @Powersource

Thanks for the link

@Zach!

It's a good question, @masukomi . I think the conceptual friction comes when you are trying to create websites on dat. Websites were built for the web, and naturally thrive. Instead, one should make a dat site. In other words, the intention and design changes and what that change allows for I find to be really exciting.

What I mean:

If you like a dat, you can seed it. Now it's available from at least two people, increasing the chance that it'll be available for someone else who seeds it too. The seeding option comes up automatically when you bookmark an archive in beaker, so if you like something enough to want to revisit it, then you are encouraged to actively show that appreciation through this infrastructure support. This changes the creator/consumer model in a real nice way.

If no one is seeding your archive, and your computer is not up, then it is not available. That's okay! Ephemera is beautiful. Live shows disappear once the band stops playing, zines disappear from print when the last one is bought and the zinester chooses to not make another printing. Live shows and zines still resonate with people long after they're gone. Permanence is not a fundamental quality of life, and it doesn't have to be a fundamental quality of dat design.

The archive also doesn't disappear as it lives now on your computer, either in a writeable form (if you're the author) or read-only form (if you're a seeder). On top of this, it is supremely easy to not just put up a dat site, but to put up a thousand dat sites. You don't have to centralize your own work. You can create a new dat site for each new need or idea, and let each one spread out as it will.

It's also supremely easy to fork a site, which puts all the files on yr computer but now writeable, which means much of the contemporary dat design is for building sites that double as tools. Dropout, by Jon-Kyle, is a great example of this( dat://dropout.jon-kyle.com/). You can visit his dat site of articles he finds interesting, fork it, and now have a tool for making readable, offline versions of the sites you find interesting. tiddlywiki on dat is another incredible example--having an offline wiki that has all the wonderful tools of its online twin has been huge for me. The dat api is really clean, and makes it easy to read from any archive so you see a design pattern where you have a set of personal tools that you use to interface with another person's small set of tools, along with your more ephemeral one time products.

All this means means dats become closer to songs or stories than webpages, where the act of sharing it is not just sharing the thing you have to say, but the means in which you said it, empowering the visitor to share their own story inspired by yours.

And for discovery of sites, the answer is Scuttlebutt! For me, Scuttlebutt is integral to Dat in a couple ways. If I make a new dat zine, I will immediately post it here. Now other people can read it, which I love, but I also have a record in an immutable log being sustained by all of my friends that says: "On This day, at this time, I said that I was the author of this cypherlink." If someone were to fork my zine, remove all references to me, then try to sell it as their own in a way I did not jive with, I would have tangible proof that the contents of it were mine, and that I stated this far before the copy's appearance. I am not sure of the full legal side of this, cos it's an avenue I don't care about that much, but it's nice to me that content authorship is embedded within the code, and your proof of authorship is supported by your butts community.

All in all, I think to see dat's potential you should not look at the web, but at cultures that flourished before the web, and how they could re-emerge now. Supportive, independent, regional* culture dies on the web today but could thrive on dat and beaker.

  • My use of regional does not mean geographical regions, but a type of cyber-geography that is broader than just 'shared interests' but still has a unique set of values and histories that unites the people within it. This scuttlepelago is regional to me.
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