Library of the Internet, The Archain ICO Review

Archain is a UK based ICO with the goal of creating an uncencorable archive of the internet using blockchain as the trust agent and miners for the cataloging horsepower. Think a time machine for the internet. The goal is to solve the problem of an internet that is constantly changing, erased history, the potential for future censorship and broken links. The project must deal with immense size and will rely on the economy of a coin (ARC) to incentivize the use of the project.

Over time the incentives will have to be large due to the scale of data in a historical archive. To reduce storage issues Archain will only store hyperlinks & text and images will somehow be stored outside of the blockchain (or ‘blockweave’ as explained below). The project also introduces a new Proof of Access algorithm that will be a close relative to the Proof of Work algorrithms of Bitcoin, Litecoin and other popular coins. In theory, the project sounds great, but will it be successful?

A Library of the Internet would be yuge, aka huge.

Economy

An Internet archive would give Academia a reliable & timeless method to reference the web, but otherwise Archain does not appear to solve any economically significant problem. Developers can also create apps with access to the weave, and submitting data to the weave will require the use of tokens. The cost of submitting data is designed to create an economy to incentivize miners, however it will deter the submission of data. In addition, only the top 100,000 pages will be archived. The archive will censor the poor and minority populations.

There is already an App Developers Toolkit that allows developers to begin building apps for the weave. Apps designed to use information in the weave could theoretically create an economy for the coin, but the environment is not likely that support a traditional economy. The whitepaper pushes the idea of a stock picker app, but an app built on a blockweave would be much too slow to provide an edge for a day trader. It is so difficult to gain an edge in the stock market based on news, many traders say news is already ‘built into the stock price’ by the time it is released.

Academia could be the savior for the Archain economy. Research Universities, for example, have large amounts of grant money that could be used to archive webpages and other data to the blockweave. Government or other institutional money could be a significant boost to the economy of Archain since both groups would likely be large users of the database.

Monetization Strategy

Archain does not appear to have a strong monetization strategy, it is not the prime focus of the project. An economy could be created around the app environment or supported by government & large institutions as mentioned above. If miners are appropriately motivated to mine, the weave will be supported with the necessary computing power.

The Blockchain & Mining

Archain will implement a ‘blockweave’ structure instead of a blockchain to get around the large storage issue of an internet archive over time. It is easy to imagine the size of an internet archive growing over just a couple years. Nodes will not be required to host the entire weave, so when the archive becomes huge information will be spread throughout the nodes. Since storage is costly, what will motivate nodes to host the weave? That is where Archain’s Proof of Access (a form of the Proof of Work model) comes into play. Under PoA, the algorithm will randomly pick a previous block to build the next block. Miners will need local access to that block to hash the next, incentivizing storage of rare blocks of the weave. Nodes will have a default whitelist that archives the top 100,000 non-adult websites, however they can change this setting if desired.

Archain’s algorithm will use the proven SHA2–256 algorithm. Mining difficulty will adjust for a constant block time of 5 minutes. In the first year, 10% of tokens in the genesis block will be issued, and it will halve each year afterwards. All miners will store wallets and wallet balances. Creation of wallets will require a transaction fee to prevent an attack.

Potential Problems

  • Will the data submission coin requirement discourage participation in the project?
  • There will be a verified and unverified entries into the weave. Will this allow for influence into a weave designed to be politically, socially and otherwise “neutral”?
  • A select few Miners may be able to hijack the algorithm by archiving unpopular and dark corners of the web finding that it gives them a numbers advantage over nodes archiving duplicate content. It is also imaginable that a miner might submit an near infinite list of URLs that it queries but other nodes do not have the capacity to store, but gives the node a 90% or better likelihood of discovering the next block. This could create a weave where a couple computers with large storage capabilities make most of the mining revenue.
  • What happens to the weave if an orphaned block is selected as the previous block to hash off?
  • The whitepaper makes no real mention of video storage, so it must be assumed no video will be backed up in this archive.
  • Archain would like to prevent governmental censorship or the “Orwellian Nightmare” however, the blockweave archive will only solve one problem in the chain of possible censorship. Internet service or other firewalls are methods of censorship that could thwart access to an archive.

Although Archain’s presale is finished, their website claims an ICO will be held this coming December to March. Buy-ins are tiered with various benefits depending on the amount invested.

Note: I was not paid or compensated to write this article. This article is not an endorsement for the ICO or crypto currency discussed. Information contained in this article is for educational use only. Even though I extensively research every article, I do not warrant this information as correct. Please keep in mind that investing in ICOs is extremely speculative, meaning that you can lose most or all of your money by investing in an ICO.


Originally published at thesmarticoinvestor.com on September 27, 2017.

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