Universal P2P address book software using Namecoin

After having seen numerous social networks and blog hosts and personal website hosts go down over time and old accounts go abandoned, and after coming to the conclusion that the only method of long term addressing that seems secure and reliable has to be based on cryptographic public keys, I’ve thought up a type of address book software that would be independent of servers and yet could always stay up to date in sync, and work in a secure manner.

So lets introduce you to Namecoin. Some years ago a guy called Zooko, who is quite well known in the crypto community, minted the concept called Zooko’s triangle. The idea is that you could only have any two of three of globally unique nicknames, decentralization and rememberability. What he and most of the rest of the world at that point wasn’t yet aware of that you could achieve all three if only you can acheive a global concensus following the same set of rules. And the first system to achieve just that was Bitcoin, which uses a blockchain and proof-of-work to achieve a secure global consensus, used to establish ownership and transfers of tokens of value. And so a few years later Namecoin was born, in which anybody can register names of various types and assign data to them, and where each name only can be registered once, and where the entry owner (the first to register it) can use the same public key he used to register it in order to update it through digital signatures.

So what does that have to do with our address book software? Easy – in order to add your friends to your friend list you do NOT have to enter or remember or verify a long string of random characters (a public key) or trust a server to give you the correct key (GPG key servers, Facebook, blogs) while the username still can be unique. So when you want to add your friend all you need is his nickname, no different than what you’re used to when following somebody on Twitter, Tumbler, Facebook or Reddit or anywhere else. And you do not have to worry about any service shutting down, because the Namecoin blockchain is global and maintained by thousands of “miners” who adds more and more proof-of-work to the chain over time, for numerous reasons. So once you have registered your username, your friends can come back 20 years later and it will still be there, and you will still be able to update it.

So basically, the address book software would be a piece of software that holds a list of the Namecoin registered nicknames of your friends, and which on a regular basis fetches the latest data from the blockchain to look for updates from your friends. The file with this list of yours could also easily be synced between your devices, such as your laptop and phone, etc. This way you ALWAYS know which blog they’re currently using, their current email, which social media they use, etc, and can always contact them, and you won’t be affected by any servers going down. All the data wouldn’t have to be stored in the blockchain either, just an address to a place to fetch your full profile data, and the data there could be signed by the same key used to create the Namecoin registration so that the data can be authenticated (if the data is modified, the signature won’t validate).

(More updates coming later)

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  1. Good article and good thoughts! I absolutely agree that the time for centralized databases owned by googles and facebooks of the world is coming to an end and that new, peer-to-peer based systems ought to replace them. In fact, there is a number of namecoin based initiatives on the way. The most recent addition is the http://www.securedolphin.com, which enables registration of user E-mail addresses in NameCoin chain. As a side benefit it also allows completely decentralized 100% encrypted email communication.

    • How does it compare to onename.io which also allows for registering profiles in the Namecoin blockchain?

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