The Internet is an interesting place. It started out as a network intended for file-sharing and has turned into a storehouse of information. It is a dynamic and profit making industry, and generates enormous revenue. While providing an open platform for free expression, it gives everyone a chance to reach out to thousands of people, at an extremely low cost. This makes the Internet the most powerful media of this age.
The Internet is governed by a set of standards, that bind it and prevent it from falling apart. Furthermore, there are services that have an expertise in certain domains (Google in search, Facebook in social networking). These direct and indirect controls limit the capabilities of the Internet and can be a cause of discontent at times. There are a lot of variables in an ideal Internet, but when we rely on these services solely, most of those variables are locked. Once a user gets on the Internet and puts his personal data, everyone wants a piece of the pie. Both Facebook and Google use out browsing behavior and personal data to serve personalized ads, and it is extremely hard to make oneself tracking-free. Governments ask for private user data all the time and demand user-generated content to be censored.
This, has brought the need for services that are not under the control of a central authority. Currently, there are three such ongoing projects, and if they succeed, they have a chance of changing the Internet and the world.
The Internet is a storehouse of information and most of the information is accessed either through search or through content aggregators. Search forms an integral part of our online activity and it is too vital to be dominated and managed by one single entity. This was the ideology behind the creation of YaCy, a decentralized search engine.
YaCy is a free search engine that anyone can use to build a search portal for their intranet or to help search the public internet. When contributing to the world-wide peer network, the scale of YaCy is limited only by the number of users in the world and can index billions of web pages. It is fully decentralized, all users of the search engine network are equal, the network does not store user search requests and it is not possible for anyone to censor the content of the shared index. We want to achieve freedom of information through a free, distributed web search which is powered by the world’s users.
YaCy dreams of taking over Google and other search engines one day, and has a very simple operating model. Each peer on the decentralized YaCy network has its curated index. As it connects to the YaCy network, other peers on the network start receiving that index.
YaCy is free from any private influence or central control. This makes it very hard to censor. Currently, YaCy has 1.4 billion documents in its index, and this size is increasing every day, with more than 600 peer operators. Around 130,000 search queries are performed on YaCy per day, which will only increase with more users.
A better explanation of YaCy can be found in this video.
FSCONS: YaCy Demo from Michael Christen on Vimeo.
YaCy is perfect in an ideal world, but there is a lot more to be done here. Currently, only expert users can use YaCy, and its index runs the risk of getting a poisoned. However, the idea is a revolutionary one, and it will be good to see YaCy succeed.