Technical Reminder: A Protocol Is Not a Service
Protocols VS. Services
You would think that people’d be clever enough to understand this terminology in this day and age, but evidently there are some, who, unfortunately, still need this explained to them. Then again, it’s sort of the technologists' fault, to an extent, as well for making everything a hosted service, therefore, whenever there is a new protocol, to most casual users, it looks like yet another service that’s on the table for someone to consume.
Protocol: Techopedia explains a protocol as follows:
A protocol is a set of rules and guidelines for communicating data. Rules are defined for each step and process during communication between two or more computers. Networks have to follow these rules to successfully transmit data.
For the layperson, this refers to, say,the rules of something; think of a game. Players can only perform certain moves on the board, or in the deck of cards, for the move to be a valid move. It’s the same for computers. they have to work within a certain set of parameters in order for communications to go through.
Services, On The Other Hand…
I’m sure I could pick up a definition of this from one of the technical encyclopedias,though I sincerely doubt I actually need to, because services are everywhere. Some rather dramatic examples come to mind here:
Do you know what’s special, or some of the more technical folks such as myself could say, restrictive, about these? They are services. You know what a service is? A service is a company’s offering, normally speaking of offerings on the web, where you have to sign up for that particular web page to participate, you normally can’t get your data out; after all,why would the company allow that? They want you to stay with them for the rest of your life. If you sign up for, Say, Facebook, the only way you can interact with anything is on Facebook. Services are everywhere, almost eating what’s left of the open web.
This entire post was spurred on by a misunderstanding I saw in one of my telegram groups, where somebody was asking about how they can access the “IPFS service”. IPFS is a protocol, first of all, not a service. For the curious, it stands for interplanetary file system, which is a protocol similar to Bitorrent, though I am unsure of it’s technical workings, I just know it’s different. Basically, if one person runs a node, they can then allow others to connect to it and grab the content that’s stored there, without any sort of central interface in the middle. Other applications can build off of the initial protocol, abstract away layers, and so on. that’s the web we need to return to. I can see why this particular individual who posted the message in the group thought that IPFS was a service,but he did ruffle my technical feathers a little bit. Sometimes the world needs a reminder that not everything is a centralized, hosted, service.