In the past few months there has been a lot of chatter about
web3 and what it means and doesn’t mean for the future of the web. There’s a lot of hype around NFTs, mostly because of the money that is exchanging hands, and instead of outright dismissing it I wanted to dive deeper to understand it better.
I first thought about NFTs when I discovered you can buy ENS Domains and then set them up like a standard DNS name with the additional benefit of using them as an identity. I went through the ENS purchase - setting up Coinbase Wallet - and buying the domain with some ETH. My overall impression was is there’s a lot of fees. Registering the domain and other actions are relatively inexpensive, but the gas fees are much higher and take up the bulk of the transaction cost. Skipping over all the details, it cost about 400$ to fully setup
ecliptik.eth - registering, reverse lookup to my wallet address, and setting the metadata.
The results of setting up the ENS domain are here, ecliptik.eth and it resolves to https://ecliptik.eth on IPFS. This name also includes additional features like setting my Avatar image to an NFT I own (which is one I created myself and put on opensea.io for free).
The next domain setup was Handshake which is a “Decentralized naming and certificate authority” and has an auction process to acquire a Handshake domain. I setup Bob Wallet and went through the airdrop claim to get some HNS. Eventually I ended up using Namebase to handle the auction and management details and after about 14 days (due to the auction process) I was the new owner of the
ecliptik Handshake domain.
The one interesting thing I noticed is that the
ecliptik domain was already up for auction when I checked. After some research I found that if you register an ENS domain name and it’s not claimed on Handshake, there are bots that will automatically start and auction for it. Because it was a bot and not someone else trying to buy it, I easily outbid and acquired the name with no counter bids. I also acquired a few other names like
rawtext since I had some more HNS.
Accessing the HNS domain requires some additional software or using DNS servers that support it, the Namebase article How to Access Handshake Sites has how to set this all up.
Handshake names are also available using the
hns.to domain, and mine is accessible at https://ecliptik.hns.to
Now that I had the DNS and Handshake domains I had to figure out how to use them. ENS has a lot of documentation on using IPFS to point an ENS domain to, and then it’s fully part of the “Distributed Web”. After doing some research I found that Fleek.co provides free Web, IPFS, ENS, and Handshake features. I followed their setup guide and now whenever I push to
main on my Github Pages repo, it automatically publishes it to IPFS using InterPlanetary Name System (IPNS) which resolves the name
ecliptik.ens to the current version of this blog.
Now whenever I publish to this blog, it’s automatically updated on IPFS and available at ipns://ecliptik.eth, and via http at https://ecliptik.eth.limo.
Accessing ENS and IPFS directly requires some additional software outside of traditional browsers, but Brave has support both for ENS and IPFS.
Learning about ENS, Handshake, and IPFS was a lot of fun, and while I highly doubt that
web3 is “the future”, these technologies have a lot of offer for the future of the Internet. I am particularly fond of IPFS as it reminds me of Bittorrent but without having to setup a torrent/magnet link and seed. Getting started with IPFS is easy, and hosting your own IPFS node locally is a quick and free way to participate in the distributed web.
I really understood the power of IPFS when I saw the different ways you could use it as a Gateway, enabling any application that uses http to access content on IPFS. This really shines with git and package repositories, see OpenBSD 6.9 packages using IPFS for a real-world application.