TL:DR: a quick blockchain hack Tweether could let anyone, anywhere, post to twitter without governments limiting access.
This past weekend, ConsenSys held a hackathon with BlockApps for people to create distrubuted apps (dapps) running on the recently released “frontier” version of Ethereum. I will try and explain all these organizations for those who are confused about all the names in the mix. Ethereum is a venture-backed non-profit that created a platform which uses BitCoin’s blockchain and distributed consensus mechanisms to create a cloud computing environment that can’t be hacked, manipulated or taken down. ConsenSys is a for-profit LLC that looks to invest in and support startups that are built on Ethereum, with the goal of creating a thriving ecosystem. BlockApps is one such startup that offers dev support to other startups trying to get off the ground with Ethereum. Joe Lubin is the lynchpin of it all. He is a co-founder of Ethereum and ConsenSys, and his son Kieran runs BlockApps.
Stefan built a fully decentralized twitter that can’t be blocked by foreign govs @ethereumproject @ConsenSysLLC pic.twitter.com/JBHSkeUvpK
— Dawud Gordon (@D4wud) August 16, 2015
The hackathon produced some interesting dapps that highlighted the power of Ethereum. One app created tools that allow individuals to create their own legally binding documents (crypto-law), create equity dispersement mechanisms for multi-owner entities that can’t be cheated, or distributed registries for things like pure-bread horses or dogs. The one dapp that stood out was Tweether created by Stefan George, a Berlin-based ConsenSys employee. His Dapp Tweether is Twitter, but based on Ethereum. Anyone can tweeth, from anywhere. All one needs is the address of any Ethereum node to do it, and there is no business behind it to intimidate, only permanent code running across the cloud, making a government blockade infeasible. Obviously what Tweether lacks that Twitter has is a huge user base that is reading content and can potentially make things viral. My suggestion was to connect Tweether to Twitter and repost content with attribution which is technically simple, as long as Twitter is on board. And if the press is good, why wouldn’t they be.
He built the entire thing in 48 hours.
Ethereum runs the risk of gaining a bad rap. If the first dapps that are released use the robustness of Ethereum to government intervention to do things in a legal gray area, say the next Silk Road, or prediction markets like Augur, that shady reputation could leak over to Ethereum itself. Tweether presents a case of something that can be done quickly and uses those same advantages for social good (although some officials in China might quibble about what “good” is). Tweether could give everyone a voice, representing real personal data empowerment, and at TwoSense we hope it is weaponized and released quickly to demonstrate the awesome positive potential of Ethereum. Getting Ethereum branded as “the good guys” paves the way for startups like us to use their platform as engines for positive social change.