Scriptarnica — Read/pay/write as you go

About a year and a half ago I was preparing for the first Blockemon meetup in Belgrade and my topic was What’s Decentralized app.

What I knew was that I needed some killer app example that shows, not just some, but all the good sides of Decentralized Applications; app that could show to anybody why this decentralization paradigm was so big by itself. And… I couldn’t figure out what it was. What I didn’t want to do was to give some generic examples like Decentralized Twitter, Decentralized Viber, or something similar to that; I didn’t want it to be about making the same apps that we already had but only in a different (decentralized) way. I needed to show that new ways of thinking, if you want it, new business models, were possible because of this new technology. In other words, I wanted to show this technology not as the antithesis of the current thesis — the WWW, but to define it in an affirmative way, which as a consequence had some, let’s call them, possibly ‘liberating’ features.

At the time, I was reading The Mountain Wreath poem, so it came naturally to me to try and play with putting some poems inside of blockchain (I know it’s expensive, so there is IPFS or something similar to offload the text and keep the metadata only, but for more details about that you can watch my lecture on that topic), and to create a blockchain-based-poem-reader app.

So, at some point I started wondering why shouldn’t I try to create an example of a killer Decentralized App out of this reader app, mainly as a mental exercise? What follows is my brief explanation of stream of though which I had while trying to do this. And, yes I really think this app has all the best features that one Decentralized App has to have.

Because Ethereum is great for creating PoC, I went in that direction. So, first, I put a verse inside of a transaction (here it is on Etherscan) and tried to parse it with some ad hoc written frontend app. It worked.

Next step was to figure out how much data was optimal to put inside of one transaction. Could I put the whole book, one chapter, part of the chapter, verse,…, word, or a single letter. Or, if I didn’t put that on Ethereum, where would I put the text, and how was it connected with the blockchain. So, at that moment, also as a PoC, I introduced IPFS as a possible secondary storage to keep the majority of data, and blockchain just to have the checksum and metadata so that the Reader knew that the Text was original. I know it’s crazy, and maybe you already have a solution, but as I said, it was a ‘decentralization’ mental exercise to see what this paradigm could do to a book or a poem.

The Mountain Wreath poem verse inside Ethereum.

So, once I had reading/writing the poem or a book working, in a PoC way, I started playing with a business model. And, it was so natural.

For example, what I could do with this kind of app was use it to pay just for a verse, a part of the book, a chapter, a paragraph, or even just a word. And, these payments, because they were blockchain transactions, would be cheaper than in fiat. Also, I could publish only parts of the book, and wait for the feedback or for people to start buying it. So, on one side, as a reader, I could pay as I read, and only for what I read, and on the other side, as a writer, I could publish some parts and earn early, or start writing from the second chapter or rework the book realtime.

Because it’s decentralized, the app is really censorship resistant.

Because it’s decentralized, there is no server or any central part of this system which can be killed, so nobody can stop the app or text from flowing. This can be called unstoppable reading and writing.

And in general, if you go through all of the good sides of Decentralized Applications and compare them with this Decentralized Reader/Writer you’ll see that all of them are there: a free (not as in beer), trustless & permissionless system; it’s all of that. And not only that, but because of blockchain, new possibilities like Pay as you go are feasible and realistic.

As you see, I started from an example for meetup and ended up with disruptive technology. This is what Decentralized apps do.

And, yeah, I call this App Scriptarnica, like in Britannica.

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