While regulators scramble to deal with bitcoin as a currency, the altcoins march on. They don’t realize that the advent of bitcoin was not the launch of one digital currency, or even ten. It was the launch of a completely new technology. The blockchain was born, which is far more revolutionary than bitcoin itself. When regulators finally comprehend that the cat is out of the bag, they will quickly discover there is a whole litter of kittens to herd. One of those kittens is namecoin.
The blockchain application that I am most excited to see is something I like to call “bitlots,” although I don’t know of anyone actually using that name. Fundamentally, a blockchain is a decentralized ledger of all transactions in a network. If a blockchain were launched in which each unit was associated with a parcel of land it could be used to transfer property titles. It could potentially replace a centralized register of deeds with a decentralized one. People could transfer titles to physical property without a notary, a county records office, and fundamentally without a government, peer-to-peer, using the blockchain to confirm ownership.
I don’t know anyone using a blockchain this way, but there is a proof of concept in the works. Namecoin is an altcoin which also serves as an alternative decentralized domain name system (DNS). A DNS is like a register of deeds for Internet real estate. It’s what points the domain name you type in your address bar with the IP address where the website is. It’s your computer’s road map to the Internet, and the one we’re using now is essentially a government monopoly. Domain names are registered and controlled by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). That’s why governments can seize websites by redirecting the traffic to their own take down screen.
Namecoin changes all that by allowing users to register .bit domain names in the namecoin blockchain, connecting them to IP addressses through a decentralized network similar to the bitcoin ledger. It’s even faster than the government DNS. It only takes .bit domains minutes to propagate worldwide, while .com, .net, .org and others can take 24-72 hours. Poof! ICANN is obsolete… almost.
There’s just one problem. We need a bypass around the government road blocks and onto the namecoin superhighway.
Enter FreeSpeechMe, the anti-censorship, anti-hijacking, open-source .bit plug-in for your Firefox browser. The free plug-in lets you easily view domains registered in the namecoin blockchain, and gives you the ability to point .bit domains to anonymously hosted websites using Tor or I2P without revealing their locations.
There is already a working beta of FreeSpeechMe for Windows and Linux, complete with easy tutorials for getting some namecoin, and launching a .bit website.
If these ideas excite you they need your help to keep ball rolling. You can contribute to their IndieGoGo campaign, or donate bitcoin and namecoin directly.
Funds raised will be used to employ programmer Jeremy Rand full time to improve the plug-in, and marketing guy Michael W. Dean to promote .bit adoption. The more they raise the more attention they can devote to building a more-free and more-secure Internet.