In a bit of an obvious troll move, Motherboard used the testnet version of a Lightning Network message embedding service to embed the closing lines of the Communist Manifesto on the testnet Bitcoin blockchain. Obvious trolling is obvious: many in the crypto community are vehemently anti-communist. A strong contingent prefers no government at all, outside of crypto consensus.
Journalist Jordan Pearson writes:
“I used a satellite service from blockchain technology company Blockstream. In 2017, Blockstream launched a service that beams the Bitcoin blockchain down from satellites covering North and South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. This could, for example, be used as a backup link for Bitcoin businesses in case the internet goes down. In January, Blockstream released an API that added the ability to broadcast messages using the satellite service and the “testnet” version of the experimental Lightning payment network for Bitcoin.”
Bitcoin blocks have contained messages since block 0, where Satoshi Nakamoto embedded the following message:
“The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks”
The Bitcoin blockchain doesn’t offer much space for messages. It’s prohibitively expensive, as well, to do it on the real main chain. Lightning Network will change this situation, and we wonder what sort of services might be built on it. Unlike other blockchains, Bitcoin doesn’t necessarily want to store all kinds of data. Already hundreds of gigabytes in size, many argue that the larger the chain gets, the less decentralized it will become.
Nevertheless, a service called Spacebit made Pearson’s trolling possible. It works on the testnet version of Lightning Network and eventually plans to go live on the main version. Lightning enables low-cost transactions which can also contain messages. Thus, such a service might actually be popular and profitable.
What sort of messages would it be used for? Blockstream’s Dan Williams thinks it could be useful for some kind of decentralized Twitter service. The blockchain is immutable, permanent, and has incentives to exist for a very long time. That being the case, people in regions suffering censorship might find it more useful than those with some degree of personal freedom.
Alternative chains like Bitcoin SV have entire active messaging services, like Bitchat, which sees dozens of messages sent through the blockchain every hour. Users embed the messages in the transactions themselves, with little effort.
The blockchain cannot be censored except by its miners. As such, it’s been used for various types of content. In a recent example, someone protested the US government’s banning of an Iranian Bitcoin address.
In a past era, a project enabled the viewing of such messages with ease. It’s no longer live, but you can set up and install it yourself if you like. It’s called Messages from the Mines.
People embed everything from graffiti (“so and so was here”) to love messages to ASCII art. There is also CryptoGraffiti, which provides a live stream of messages as they appear. It used to work on Bitcoin, but moved to Bitcoin Cash and then Bitcoin SV at some point.
Blockchains are useful for many types of data verification beyond simple financial transactions. Some people think it might be the best way to verify time travel. If a person claims to be from the future, they only need to provide future blockchain data to prove it. Going back in time might also be provable.
Then again, if one could go back to 2010, spending as much as possible investing in Bitcoin would be the obvious move, rather than worrying about proving you went back in time.