Designing the Identity of Decentralised Internet Memories at Arweave
Every single day, five billion searches are made, 500 million tweets and 294 billion emails are sent, four petabytes of data are created on Facebook, and many more activities happen on the internet. If the internet were a person, it’d be the smartest person to ever exist, with the most vast and complex memory.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for the internet we know today. Although it has enormous capacity to transmit information, the internet is, in reality, very forgetful. Data on the World Wide Web can easily be deleted, edited and manipulated by individuals, interest groups, companies and governments.
Late in 2019, I was introduced to the core team from Arweave, who are on a mission to change this. I was fascinated by the concept of the permaweb, in which individuals can ‘capture’ the current state of almost anything on the internet and make those memories permanent. These internet memories are affordably stored using a perpetual endowment system that allows individuals to pay for hundreds of years of storage fees with accrued interest on the principal paid up front.
For the first time, the benefits of the internet come with accountability. The problems arising from manipulated data, websites and social media — as seen with Brexit, US presidential candidates, and Venezuelan politics will be the problems of yesterday.
The New Platform
I was excited to start working with the Arweave team in redesigning their new website, which will become a central point for the activities of Arweave’s users, who are predominantly builders, miners, and decentralisation enthusiasts. It offers a one-stop knowledge pool for Arweave technology, how-to resources, first-token-download features, and news about hackathons, community grants and funding.
The design of the site is separated into three main parts: project features on the front page, the token and wallet download flow and the repository for documentation integrated into the left navigation bar. The UI design aims to maximise the intuitiveness of the interface. Users can browse content effortlessly and intuitively. We also made sure that the site complies with accessibility standards (WCAG) in terms of contrast, content hierarchy and device independence.
From day one, I sought to engage the community as much as possible, as I read through the content and connected with community members in their discord channel.
The final design of the Arweave identity is based on the character ⓐ — U+24D0 in the Unicode character set. In 1987, Unicode was born as an open-source project that aimed to provide a global standard for text characters. It embraced the growing internet community and unified character sets, with widespread use in the internationalisation and localisation of computer software.
Once the character was chosen by the core team, the transformation to a logo was conducted, as much as possible, with the preservation of the original Unicode character ratio in mind. As Unicode is one of the most-used information technology standards, an identity based on those standards would be readily acknowledged and easily accessible by the tech community.
I came up with the Permawall concept as a way to visualise the (internet) memories that are stored on the permaweb. Each image tiled on the wall represents a topic that currently is or could be archived. One of the topics displayed on the Permawall that I found fascinating was the project called WeiBlocked. They use Arweave technology to archive what are determined to be censored posts on Weibo (equivalent to Twitter in China), including articles on the coronavirus pandemic.
The impact of the permaweb technology on the internet is broad, as it can help to guarantee accountability, transparency and the integrity of the data published on the web . Therefore, the data pool being stored in a decentralised manner on Arweave is growing and will include topics ranging from climate change and politics to entertainment, academic discussions and scientific discoveries.
No work is complete without user feedback. That which has been received so far has been very helpful for future improvement. However, the Arweave team is always striving for the better. So, if you have comments or would like to suggest an improvement to the site or the knowledge repository, please feel free to reach out at email@example.com.
A bit about me
I joined the Ethereum ecosystem in early 2018 after years of working in design, legal and development field (legal aid, online privacy & cybersec law). The idea of a decentralised internet fascinates me and led me to start experimenting with the ever-widening possibilities for this concept. I became more involved with the community by helping to organise hackathon events, DevCon UX track and by working for several start-ups as a product designer and web designer.