Coming in to the world of Arweave can be a challenging task if you’re not fluent in the language of blockchain and cryptocurrency. Many new projects are making less technical people aware of Arweave, or attracting people for whom this is a completely new world, such as artists and bloggers.
While veterans know initiates would benefit greatly from NFTs and the permaweb, it can be somewhat alienating to know where to begin when every new term sends you down a new rabbit hole. So, we made this glossary of the key Arweave terms for beginners to help you navigate this world more confidently.
This is a growing list of terms so feel free to drop a comment with some other concepts that are new and we’ll add it to this list 🙂
A blockchain is a chain of blocks containing information. It is a system of recording information in a way that makes it hard to hack or alter; once data has been recorded to the blockchain, the network has come to consensus on the single source of truth and any attempt to tamper with that becomes immediately noticeable.
By using cryptography, a blockchain is an open, decentralized database can be created for any transaction including value (such as money or information). It creates a record, the authenticity of which can be verified by anyone.
Generally, anyone with access to the internet who holds the relevant token can be involved in blockchain-based transactions, making third party organisations obsolete.
In the context of Arweave: Arweave uses a blockchain-like technology, branded as blockweave.
Blocks are groups of transactions. When new data is added to the blockweave, the data is grouped together into a block containing this information. A new block occurs roughly every 2 minutes regardless of whether there’s 1 or 1000 transactions. All blocks together make the blockweave.
In the context of Arweave: Blocks are the lists of transactions – either the sending of AR between addresses, or the storing of data on the permaweb.
Usually blocks are added when the entirety of the old blocks are verified to be correct. With Arweave, a new block is added when the miner validates a randomly selected old block.
It works on the assumption that if that old block can be validated, then the blockchain is valid. It’s more lightweight than Bitcoin, for example. It uses a blockchain template but doesn’t need to validate the entire history.
In the context of Arweave: Arweave’s blockweave stores and validates all data on the permaweb.
Instead of sending traditional transactions to the Arweave network directly, developers can choose to send multiple (or even just one!) as a bundle. Bundles are groups of transactions send to a layer 2 server as a single transaction. Bundles comes with the guarantee that the transactions contained within will be mined into a block. Bundler servers are managed by Bundlr DAO.
Read more about bundles here.
In the context of Arweave: Bundles are an Arweave-specific form of transacting groups of data.
Centralised vs decentralized networks
A centralized network indicates a single point of failure; they are usually run by, for example, a big corporation like Amazon or Google. The server operator owns the right to censor the content and has the final say. It means it has one point of control and failure in the system. On the other hand, a decentralized network’s decision making is delegated to a number of levels of heirarchy – not just the top one.
When it comes to the internet, it is more reliable to have a decentralized server – in case one server goes down, there’s others to rely on. For example, when Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp went down, it was due to one centralized server failing. In a decentralized system, there isn’t a main source which, in case of failure, paralyzes the entire system.
For more information on decentralization check out this article.
In the context of Arweave: Arweave is a fully decentralized network.
DAO stands for decentralized autonomous organization. It is a Web3 version for what might be called a startup in Web2. However, unlike startups, DAOs are more like communities than companies. Instead of having one CEO or leader, DAOs have a democratic, yet token-gated, approach.
For example, if a new feature is rolled out, the community votes on it. Everyone has a say in DAO, however, there’s a safety net which enables more involved community members to have a bigger swing in the vote ration. The way it’s ensured is by giving bigger weight to the vote of someone with more tokens – more established members get to see the product evolve in the way they envision.
In the context of Arweave: DAOs are common practice in Arweave for setting up governance around new products and missions. Arweave DAOs are called PSCs.
An endowment is a type of future security fee for permanent storage. With Arweave, storing data forever is extremely cheap – it includes the immediate cost for storage and contributes a small percent towards the endowment. This puts money in the common pool to ensure payment for future replications of the information.
Permanent storage is guaranteed for, as mentioned in the lightpaper, at least 200 years. This is thanks to the economic incentives of Arweave and its token, making it desirable for users and miners to participate in the system.
In the context of Arweave: The endowment is sent a fee from the initial payment for storage to ensure future replications of the data are stored.
Miners are the machines running the Arweave mining software. This software mines blocks automatically, but miners can make a blacklist of certain file types they don’t want to add. For example, a miner could choose to not support video uploads but only store pictures and audio files.
On Arweave miners are incentivised to store more rare data by rewarding its storing more highly. This makes all data be more permanent and replicated by more miners. Miners are also rewarded higher the bigger the data stored is, for example a video will reward them better than a photo.
In the context of Arweave: Miners are the machines (and people!) responsible for adding and validating new data transactions to the blockweave.
Mining is the process of adding new transactions to blockweave by validating them against the historical record of blocks.
When an app makes a transaction (like stores data on Arweave) these transactions are in a pending state before being mined into the next block. Sending data is not immediate – transactions sit in the memory pool with other pending transactions and the miner mines them into a block.
In the context of Arweave: People with mining software (miners) group transactions into blocks and commit them to blockweave if they can prove access to other data.
NFT stands for non fungible token, meaning a token which can’t be broken down into parts smaller than one whole. NFTs are a combination of an asset and a contract that tracks ownership of the asset. It can be anything from an image, a video or technically – and many think this is the future NFTs are heading towards – a house or other property which currently has ownership managed by a centralized organization.
In many cases, NFTs are just contracts that link to a centralized server to store the asset. Arweave uses Atomic NFTs which are permanent, unique, cost efficient and completely decentralized. Read more about atomic NFTs here.
In the context of Arweave: With Arweave, NFTs are stored permanently and the asset is inseparable from the contract.
The permaweb is a parallel to the traditional web, but the content is permanent and the power dynamics put the user in control. This means you won’t be encountering 404s and that you can be sure that once you’ve found a page on the permaweb, it will still be there years later.
This is important for content creators as the permaweb offers permanent hosting of webpages and even apps. Besides, it’s cost effective, decentralised and not subscription-based, making it a better choice for long term projects. For example, this article you’re reading has been archived forever on the permaweb here!
Check out our guide here on how to store content on the permaweb.
In the context of Arweave: All of the connected sites and apps on the Arweave network are what is called the permaweb.
PSC stands for profit sharing community. Normally a PSC is started by the founders of an Arweave-based app and participated in by those who hold the app’s profit-sharing tokens. Like in a DAO, the founder and token holders decide on improvements and changes of the app and whoever holds more tokens has more weight to their vote. This way, people who are more involved in a project are more likely to influence its development.
Read more about PSCs here.
In the context of Arweave: PSCs are Arweave’s version of what a startup is in the Web2 world, but with improved incentives for participants.
PST stands for profit sharing token – specific to each PSC, and used for profit distribution. They are also important when it comes to voting as people with more PSTs have more weight to their vote, ensuring people who are more involved in the product have more sway.
PSTs can be traded on Verto.
In the context of Arweave: PSTs are an Arweave specific method of profit sharing and community governenace.
When data is uploaded it is stored on many different harddrives of miners, creating a replica of the original for each miner’s harddrive. Data which is not well replicated is incentivised to be replicated by miners as rare data rewards miners more highly.
In the context of Arweave: Miners are financially incentivised to make replicas of rare data to contribute towards making the data permanent.
A smart contract is a blockchain–based application which anyone can interact with to store data or retrieve data that has been stored.
The Arweave-specific smart contract system is called SmartWeave. SmartWeave relies on the user to verify the transaction client-side, rather than calling every node for validation. The RedStone team is developing an alternate SDK for SmartWeave, which we explain here.
In the context of Arweave: Unlike traditional smart contracts which are expensively validated by every node, SmartWeave is only validated at the time of use by the users’ computer.
Succinct Proofs of Random Access (SPoRA)
SPoRA is an innovative way for validating blocks in a blockchain. It differs from Proof of Work because it doesn’t depend on the previous block to validate transactions but rather uses previous block and a random block in the chain as the challenge to miners.
In the context of Arweave: SPoRA is an Arweave specific method for validating blocks on the blockweave.
Web3 applications differ from Web2 by using a cryptocurrency wallet such as ArConnect or Metamask as a form of identification and login (instead of a username and password). Since a user is connected with their wallet it makes it easy to do verified transactions.
It is consists of a type of web applications that are based on decentralized, blockchain-based networks. In Web3 there isn’t one single entity that controls the connection but rather many smaller networks and participants. This way, if one connection breaks down there are still others to fall back on – unlike in cases of Web2 where if the main server goes down, the network becomes paralyzed.