However, most people wouldn't consider "email" (SMTP) to be a blockchain, even if it's (sorta) decentralized.
But nearly every definition of blockchains does contain an append-only cryptographic log called a "merkle tree". Everything from there gets fairly vague.
You can have shared ledgers without blockchains, too. The first shared ledgers I knew about were by Todd Boyle: https://financialcryptography.com/mt/archives/001469.html
Could be implemented actually-decentrally by ActivityPub and Spritely.
This might be a side trip, but do you think that Merkle Trees are a necessary part of a workable non-blockchain shared ledger?
@bhaugen define "workable", and define "merkle tree" I guess! But this is an interesting question. My first response was going to be to say that merkle trees are necessary, but then I remembered just how much when it comes to ocap-oriented distributed-object abstractions, one can upend one's normal assumptions of how things which are normally built with cryptography can instead be built with object interactions and object references.
@bhaugen It's possible to build one, I've thought of a design. I'm not sure you'd *want to use it* though.
It resembles my suggestion of how multiplayer terminal phase might work in the article that opened this thread.
But I'm not sure it's *useful*, so I'm not sure it's worth elaborating, but I will think about it. Maybe there's a surprising usefulness application.
> how multiplayer terminal phase might work in the article that opened this thread.
This thread has meandered and crisscrossed enuf that "Expand this toot" does not find an opening article...but if I found it, I would read it.
(It has been a fascinating tangle of threads, though....)
@cwebber While CapTP is the long-term goal, I've been thinking about proposing a system for collectibles using the existing @activitypub protocol (e.g. Offer/Accept/Reject plus collections Add/Remove). Would you be interested in collaborating? The goal is to provide an NFT alternative that avoids financialization but keeps the fun of collecting & ability to trace artist provenance. More like achievements than trading cards
@datatitian @activitypub I'm not interested in building that on AP myself, but I'm interested in doing a writeup in terms of "supporting artists and programmers on the internet" which will include the idea of "digital trading cards" (and attempting to kick the term "NFT" into the trash, and then light the trashcan on fire). If you're interested in providing feedback on that and maybe even helping with it, and maybe we could even include your examples (and i could review them), then great!
Ultimately, blockchain is equivalent to the "eternal log file" as on https://second.wiki/wiki/ewige_logdatei
What Bitcoin adds on top, is defining what contents of each "log message" (which is called a block) mean, verification of those properties, and a decentralized consensus mechanism as well as protocols to collect more than one piece of information into each block.
What Git adds on top, is defining what contents of each "log message" (which s called an object, and can be one of multiple types) mean, merges (a trivial but important addition) and a centralized consensus mechanism (branches, tags, both being just "refs").
@cwebber Proof of Stake is still (always) Five Years Away from proving it doesn’t need to piggyback on PoW and/or doesn’t need always online networks in sit and spin mode (or worse doing PoW just so that it has something to do while it spins).
Personally, I’m at the point of declaring PoS bad for the environment. (If not also “more Ponzi than Ponzi: The Lottery” economically.) And small permissioned quorums we can go back to calling Paxos and rebase-only merkle trees.
@cwebber At this point I *really* want to end the confusion between “blockchain” and “distributed consensus” and my suggestion is we end the confusion by declaring “blockchain” to *only* mean the destroying the planet algorithms that have ~industrial waste~ cryptocurrency by -products and go back to older names for everything else. Because it’s a LOT easier to shutdown PR nonsense if we can just say “Technically, yes all blockchains are wasteful” and move on with our technical lives.
@cwebber But that’s my minority take here. A lot of VC money is getting thrown at the confusion and people are profiting off it. We can solve it technically, easy enough and stop letting PR spin confuse everyone about which distributed databases are to toxic or not.
@cwebber Proof of stake is almost as bad as proof of work, as it leads to dramatically increased e-waste and/or hardware shortages.
Plus, both systems amount to Proof of Wealth, meaning they end up being another way to accelerate the movement of power and money to the rich, as the rich insert themselves as middlemen and soak up the extravagant transaction fees.
@mathew What structurally leads to dramatically increased e-waste? I agree that structurally it means "proof of plutocracy" but don't understand the other argument... PoS as I understand it encodes who the voting members are based on who holds wealth on the chain, which leads to plutocratic problems but I'm not aware of the resource problems it has (other than more people needing to carry around a long log of history than maybe necessary)
@mathew I'm a big critic of PoS's plutocratic nature, I just like to be a critic along the architectural problems systme have, so please don't misread.
@cwebber Miners buy high end GPUs and thrash the hell out of them, or buy ASICs which are no use for anything else. Either way, they end up as e-waste after about 18 months when they are no longer competitive. A study suggests that each Bitcoin transaction makes about as much e-waste as binning an iPhone.
@mathew well the term "mining" is used but it doesn't apply the same way as resource mining as you described
the criticisms you're raising are true and accurate for proof of work, though.
@cwebber See followup comment about proof of stake and SSDs.
@mathew that criticism of proof of space is accurate imo, I'm just advocating for giving the right criticisms for the right things
@cwebber Are there any low-resource-use Proof of Stake systems in use? I remember Iota seeming superficially promising, but I haven't seen it actually used anywhere, and it looks like it's only just going through some sort of complicated staking mechanism.
@mathew I think Cosmos's Proof of Stake (and things built on top of it, like Agoric's blockchain) fits that definition, but I don't know much of the details
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