I am pleased to say that I am now the owner of the ENS domain name, guyjames.eth. ENS domains are domain names which are registered on the Ethereum blockchain.
I had been hesitant to register one because of the horrendous gas fees but I regretted not doing so sooner, as there recently was an airdrop to everyone who had one of these domains in ENS governance tokens, and which ended up being potentially quite lucrative. Of course one of the integral parts of dabbling with cryptocurrencies is a crushing sense of disappointment on missing out on lots of free money every now and then, so I take it in my stride. I have also had occasions of being gifted tokens which ended up being worth something so I can’t really complain.
What does this mean in practice? Well it means that as I previously linked this site to IPFS - just over a year ago I now see - and the .eth domain name is linked to the IPFS address, this website can now function in a totally decentralised manner, not reliant on any domain name servers (the Ethereum blockchain replaces this) nor hosting services (the decentralised network of IPFS nodes replaces that).
It’s true that if you try this on a ‘normal’ web browser with no IPFS or ENS support enabled, it will not work. But simply downloading the Brave or Opera browser and putting in guyjames.eth to the address bar, you will be whisked over here. Brave asks if you want to connect via the IPFS app or via Cloudflare when trying to access the site, and I imagine that as most people don’t have IPFS installed on their devices, they will have to use Cloudflare, which re-introduces an element of centralisation to the situation, but still, in theory this website is now completely censorship-proof and cannot be taken down by anyone.
The importance of being able to do this is not particularly key with this website; I don’t post anything very controversial here. But one can imagine situations where information needs to be got into the public domain, and powerful forces want to stop it. Their usual route would be to put legal pressure on the web hoster, and if that fails the domain provider. These efforts are usually successful; think the troubled history of The Pirate Bay (although that is still alive as far as I know) and an example from the part of the world where I live: the 2018 elections to decide the independence of Catalonia (unilaterally organised without the consent of the Spanish government) during which the organisers managed to keep the information on how and where to vote accessible by means of IPFS.
With the domain being registered on a blockchain and the files being hosted on IPFS, there is nowhere to put pressure on legally. Of course bad actors can use this tech as well, but as I’m sure you’ve heard before, a knife can prepare a salad or stab someone through the heart. We are not going to be phasing out knives in the near future, I trust.