Digital File Collaboration with safety standards appropriate for the 21st century

Team members:


It’s important to establish new safety standards around privacy and vendor lock-in for how we collaborate on digital files: Companies and individuals that provide the software you use every day should not have access to your documents, your photos, backups, chat history or any application data for that matter; and they should not lock you in to their platform.
Our plan is to build an application that encrypts your personal data and makes it permanently accessible and portable. To realize this, we’ll build it on top of existing open protocol standards like IPFS’s CIDs, DNSLink & IPLD, WNFS, CAR Mirror and UCAN.

Q & A

  1. What is the existing target protocol you are hoping to improve or enhance? Eg: hand-washing, traffic system, connector standards, carbon trading.

    On a human axis, we’re making the protocol for digital file collaboration ready for the 21st century. Culturally, we’re already moving to more decentralized architectures, like Bluesky, and end-to-end-encrypted tools for collaboration and communication, like Signal. Personal data storage should embrace both of these new safety protocols.
    On a technical axis, we’re going to build on and contribute to the WNFS, CAR Mirror and UCAN protocols.

  2. What is the core idea or insight about potential improvement you want to pursue?

    If we want to move to an end-to-end encrypted future, we can’t keep decentralization out of sight. Today’s tools that provide end-users with encryption trap their data in encryption silos. Their data is encrypted, but that data is only accessible in one central place.
    We want your data to outlast individual apps, so we need to build the next generation of software on open standards for encryption such as WNFS to give users actual agency.

  3. What is your discovery methodology for investigating the current state of the target protocol? Eg: field observation, expert interviews, historical data analysis, failure event analysis

    We succeed when users can access their data independently of a single entity, and thus can connect multiple applications that sync to their personal data store. We also only succeed if the user’s personal data stores can outlive the first institution that they signed up with for persistence and availability. We will tests these properties by simulating these situations and talking to end users.

  4. In what form will you prototype your improvement idea? Eg: Code, reference design implementation, draft proposal shared with experts for feedback, A/B test of ideas with a test audience, prototype hardware, etc.

    We’ll implement a desktop and mobile front-end that allows importing data and encrypting it using WNFS and syncing it between devices using CAR Mirror. We’ll also write a prototype server implementation that makes the IPLD data available over DNSLink and CAR Mirror to web applications that a user wants to interact with.

  5. How will you field-test your improvement idea? Eg: run a restricted pilot at an event, simulation, workshop, etc.

    We’ll reach out to users for personal data storage, as well leverage app developers that are already building on WNFS like, capyloon, noosphere, and more to test integrations.

  6. Who will be able to judge the quality of your output? Ideally name a few suitable judges.

    For judges, previous experience with IPFS and its protocols and cryptography, as well as general knowledge about HTTP(s) and DNS can be helpful to determine whether we’ve achieved our goals.

  7. How will you publish and evangelize your improvement idea? Eg: Submit proposal to a standards body, publish open-source code, produce and release a software development kit etc.

    We’ll write a blog post outlining the idea & vision, collect contact information of people interested, share the idea in the Fission and related Discords, the IPFS forum and more.
    Once we have an implementation, we test it out with early adopters and promote it to a wider audience.
    Contributions to the WNFS and CAR Mirror specifications will be submitted to the WNFS working group.

  8. What is the success vision for your idea?

    A wide range of people will prefer this personal data store architecture. What we build should foster an ecosystem of applications that favors user-agency. Users will be cautious about their privacy and vendor lock-in. Their data will outlive individual companies and be safe from data breaches. They’ll be empowered to use their personal data store with applications they wouldn’t otherwise use due to privacy concerns.


Love that you guys mention encryption silos! This is still very non-obvious – with end to end encryption, we need interop otherwise we just end up in silos again. So, something like this that enables “interop through the file system” for different applications should make for a better user experience!