Blockstack: A Decentralized Internet?

Given that I’m interested in alternative networks and/or browsers, I was immediately intrigued when I heard about Blockstack, which its developers describe as “a new internet for decentralized apps.”

blockstack_editedBlockstack uses the application layer of the traditional internet (the one you use every day, in other words), and offers tools for decentralized storage, authentication, and identity.

The apps are run through the Blockstack Browser, which you can also download from the site. (Note: if you want the Linux version, it’s a shell script.) Developers write the apps in JavaScript, and then plug into user-run APIs, cutting out the idea of central control points.

In a sense, this is similar to the Osiris system which I mentioned on an earlier post, Curious About Osiris? (i.e. there’s no central server or control point, and it operates in a decentralized manner). One major difference is that Blockstack is still actively being developed and maintained, and it will also eventually make use of cryptocurrencies and other technology.

At the moment, I’m not using the full browser, just the web app, which has limited functionality. Even so, the web app has several user-ready apps that you can try out, as well as several “token portfolio apps,” which you can log into via Blockstack.

blockstack_user_apps.png

blockstack_token_apps

Graphite, for instance (under the “user-ready apps”), is a decentralized, encrypted replacement for things like Google G-Suite and Microsoft Office. Aww man, but I already have LibreOffice! (I kid.)

blockstack_graphite

Though I do use LibreOffice at home, there are times when I may not have access to it, or may want to try an alternative. With any of these apps, you merely sign in with Blockstack, and you’re all set (similar to syncing things with your Google account, if that’s what you’re accustomed to).

Like LibreOffice, MS Office, etc., Graphite has several different apps within it, called Documents, Sheets, Contacts, and Conversations:

blockstack_graphite_apps

Documents, for example, is a word processor, and sheets (in case you couldn’t tell) is a spreadsheet. The interfaces look a bit similar to things like Google Docs and Google Hangouts, but they’re very simple and, of course, decentralized.

One downside might be that if you don’t know anyone else who’s using Blockstack, there wouldn’t be anyone to have “conversations” with yet, but you can always let people know about it…

This is mostly based on my first experience with these, so I don’t yet have a full grasp of Blockstack’s capabilities. Nonetheless, my first impressions are very positive. Besides, every piece of software has beta versions, doesn’t it?

Well guys, keep up the good work. I think we need many more decentralized browsers and apps, and this is a great start.

Besides, how can you not like something with an app called CoinKitty?

 

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