Do the benefits of IPFS merit riding the profit driven ICO wave?

Quoting myself from IRC (as intro)

lgierth Mmiflow kythyria : - I know this is not a forum, but I did say I’d check back in, so here is a bit of an addendum (to the somewhat heated debate we had a couple days ago):

So - a late late addendum to my discussion here of IPFS, Filecoin, and changing the world for better (or not, as the case may be). Considering the length of time passed, and since I don’t want to put up a wall of text here, I’ll be posting in full to the IPFS forum and just linking here.
My gist is that with IPFS and Filecoin, its difficult for me to see what are ends and what are the means; project members have stated the view that Filecoin is a hack of the capitalist system to fund development of the IPFS protocols/implementations. But for me it could just as well be IPFS being developed to bring in a ton of money through Filecoin, for beneficiary unknown to me.

I only have pretty limited time for follow up here right now, so anybody wanting to debate, I suggest do so on the forum. Have a good time otherwise, and good luck I guess!

Forum post:

Ok - you say filecoin is a hack on the economy (a way to cash in on the value created by IPFS) ; but to me it could just as well be the other way round - building IPFS to make a big profit through filecoin. How am I to tell the difference ? After all, Protocol-labs is not a not-for profit, nor a B-Corp or a public-benefit corporation (all of which would indicate the company is not driven solely by profit-maximisation)!

So - stumbled over a debate along similar lines as mine in the IRC channel, read up on the YCombinator item it referenced, and skimmed the (very long) interview with the Protocol Labs founder I got pointed at - I guess giving him and you guys the benefit of doubt. I’m afraid my opinion has not really changed for it.

Ok, I think I’d no longer assert that you / Protocol Labs are wittingly trying to just “cash in” on the speculative bubble that cryptocurrencies by and large are. However, I still see the project largely as “part of the problem” rather than solution to the way the world is badly skewed in favor of the few over the many - even if well intentioned, and unwittingly so.

To illustrate - Juan Benet gives the example of Scientific databases being in a state of disarray (at least on the public facing side), and this being one motivation to develop a solution that makes it easy to keep them in good order (ie both available and versioned). To me though, this is a tech fix to a system problem: The economisation of science means that making and keeping data available to other scientists is not a high priority.

So sure, making it easier to publish data (through IPFS) might lead to it becoming more commonly done. But the real problem is that the incentives are to get published in a high impact journal, and make sure you’re quicker than your competition while you’re at it; rather than do the best to get others to be able to build on your work. Of course some method of allocating research funding is necessary - and I can’t say I have a perfect solution handy. Also, the current system obviously does also drive some outstanding research and breakthroughs. I’m just convinced there could be so much more done with the resources available…

Anyway, so what would really be called for is fixing this underlying (arguably broken) system. And thats where I’d draw the analogy to the greater society - the system is basically broken, and that calls for fixing the system - not working within it to improve or refine small parts of its workings. There is my criticism of Protocol Labs approach - for me it doesn’t rise to the call of the ethos I see behind the “Open movement” - changing the way the world as a whole works, for the benefit of the many.

I think this fact is is what lead me to the feeling of being repelled at the very corporate and shiny website I (somewhat graphically) originally described (which for me reflects the reality of IPFS / Protocol Labs better than the view I had held previously).

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