Remember back to the early 2000s. Remember back to Napster and Limewire and Kazaa. Remember waiting three hours for a song to download and a whole day for a video. Forget about the piracy of it all for a second. This was the dawn of a new way to consume media. Up until this point, we all were buying our media on physical discs, and before that, on tapes. The early 2000s showed us a new way and ushered in the eventual idea of streaming.
Truthfully, streaming killed piracy and p2p sharing (or severely hampered it) by being a better experience. Waiting for a full movie to download suddenly sounds a lot less enticing than paying $9.99 a month to watch it without a wait on Netflix. But had we not seen p2p file sharing’s rise and had we not felt the pain of waiting for media to download, we might still be waiting for streaming on the web today. Thankfully that's not the case. We can stream videos and music just about anywhere on the web.
Unless that web is the decentralized web.
In 1993, a band called Severe Tire Damage became the first group to stream a performance live on the internet. They were only able to do so because the performance was at Xerox PARC and they literally had scientists who wanted to see if they could technically make this happen. Turns out they could.
…elsewhere in the building, scientists were discussing new technology (the Mbone) for broadcasting on the Internet using multicasting. As proof of PARC’s technology, the band’s performance was broadcast and could be seen live in Australia and elsewhere. In a March 2017 interview, band member Russ Haines stated that the band had used approximately “half of the total bandwidth of the internet” to stream the performance.
So, streaming is not a new technology. However, IPFS is new enough that streaming is not yet native to its content delivery.
IPFS is a wonderful technology. It allows for content ownership, portability, and verifiability. It powers NFT marketplaces, individual websites, file-sharing platforms, and more. However, IPFS, the protocol, does not have a responsibility to match the experience of traditional cloud file services. Instead, that responsibility falls onto the shoulders of IPFS’s adoptors.
And that’s exactly why Pinata is releasing streaming video through our Dedicated Gateways.
We’re excited to announce this new functionality today, available as part of our new, streamlined pricing plans. With streaming video in place, you and those who visit your gateway will no longer have to wait for a video file to download fully before it can be played. Just visit the URL and the video will start streaming, just like you would expect with Netflix or Youtube.
Why Does This Matter?
IPFS gateways, today, are used by everyone from individual creators to large companies. Businesses, agencies, individuals, developers, and hobbyists use IPFS gateways as the headless CMS for a headless web. That means every experience they create is reliant on the delivery of the content they fetch from a gateway. What happens if they are providing a subpar experience? What happens if the benefits of IPFS stop outweighing the performance struggles?
Performance issues can be solved. We’re proving that with this release. That means everyone can leverage the full benefits of IPFS without the trade-offs that have historically come with doing so. A person creating a gallery space in the metaverse can display video files in their digital world without worrying about whether or not a visitor will stay long enough to wait for the video to load.
We see a world where creators of all types can leverage the power of content-addressable files to power their creative world. To distribute files to their fans and their users with the best possible experience. We see a world where people no longer have to choose platform performance or ownership. Pinata is powering a future where individuals, businesses, and developers can provide a Youtube-level experience without relying on a Youtube-style platform.
Video streaming is the first step in this vision, and it’s a big one.
How To Get Started
You can get started today by signing up for an account, creating a Dedicated Gateway, and sharing your files. Simply go to Pinata to get up and running. Once you’ve uploaded a video file you’d like to share, you can go to the Pin Manager to grab the link. You will always be able to access the original media file across the IPFS network. However, by appending
?stream=true to the end of the video’s link through your Dedicated Gateway, you will be enabling the full streaming experience.
All new videos on the Picnic plan and above will have videos enabled for streaming. Videos previously uploaded will not retroactively be streamable.
Happy Pinning! And Streaming!