The Winklevoss Twins-backed decentralized internet project Blockstack announced the creation of a new social media platform called Banter. The Banter network can perform many of the actions popular in centralized social networks but is built on top of a decentralized blockchain-powered infrastructure, which comes with a unique set of advantages.
A Quick Blockstack Refresher
Since its launch in 2013, Blockstack has been working on creating a new internet infrastructure that is able to match the functionality and effectivity of the internet as we know it. The difference, however, is that Blockstack wants to provide its users with control over their fundamental digital rights, which include identity, data-ownership, privacy, and security.
Creating decentralized systems for the internet is not a new idea; however the major challenge has been developing a comprehensive product that supports a wide range of actions. Blockstack utilizes blockchain technology to power its decentralized name registration system, designed to rival DNS, identity management, payments, and storage. While the Blockstack infrastructure is currently running on the Bitcoin blockchain, it is blockchain-agnostic and can be moved to any other decentralized network.
The most well-known product to exit the Blockstack lab is arguably the Blockstack Browser, which is designed to give users control over their data. The New York-headquartered project seems keen on disrupting the status quo of the Internet and the cryptocurrency industry, for example, through its new app mining initiative. Blockstack announced the app mining initiative, which is supposed to negate many of the ills associated with the ICO funding model and spur on DApp development in a suitable manner.
Despite the bear market witnessed within the cryptocurrency markets over the past twelve months, the company continues to reach and surpass its goals. In December 2018, Muneeb Ali, a co-founder at Blockstack, announced the firm has unlocked a further $25 million to continue funding its endeavors. This was because the company had achieved its first milestone as defined in its long term plan.
Additionally, in a report released in February, Ali also intimated that the Blockstack network saw a 100 percent increase in DApps launched on it in the last quarter of 2018, again defying market conditions.
The launch of Banter comes at the tail end of a long line of releases designed to “decentralize and fix the web.” Hank Stoever, an engineer at Blockstack, announced the platform in a blog post, stating:
“To further demonstrate some of the capabilities of Radiks, a decentralized data indexer for Blockstack apps, we’re introducing Banter, a lightweight social network. Banter works like most social networks—real-time updates, daily digests, and frictionless ways to invite friends.”
Radiks is a framework designed to support the creation of complex and collaborative decentralized applications. The framework is powered by Blockstack’s extensive infrastructure and aims to present solutions to the three main challenges Dapp developers are facing. Radiks hopes to solve the ‘aggregation’, ‘modeling’, and ‘collaboration’ problems through one comprehensive platform as opposed to different solutions to each challenge as has been attempted by others within the space.
The Radiks framework was developed by Stoever and is the main reason why it is now possible to have a platform like Banter on the Blockstack network. Stover, who demonstrated the power of the Radiks framework through a blogging platform called optimized at its release, explained:
“In addition to documentation, bug fixes, and helping developers get started, we wanted to demonstrate how Radiks can be used to build rich, social apps. Radiks is great at real-time collaboration and aggregating public data from many users—so the Blockstack core team built Banter to road-test these abilities.”
What Can Banter Do and What Does This Mean For Crypto?
Banter supports real-time updates and social notifications so that users can immediately view new messages through the browser. Reminiscent of Twitter, users can see the count of any unread messages at the top of the tab. Likes and other interactions are displayed in the same way on this new social media network.
Moreover, the social media platform supports a number of features connected to the inbuilt Blockstack ID system. Users can opt to receive an email with curated content regarding the most popular posts on the network. Users can pick how often they would like these updates. Additionally, users can also manage notifications in a number of ways such as though their email address or through other DApps in the Blockstack network. Inviting other Blockstack users to Banter is very easy as all it requires is to tag the @-mention of the intended recipient.
For developers, because the Radiks server comes with a standard API to query and fetch data in your app, it is relatively easy to use tools that help build server-side rendered apps that can use Radiks and as a result, access the greater infrastructure prioritized by the project. The Blockstack team has optimised performance in this regard, prioritizing loading speed.
The Banter platform currently does not support images in the messaging tool but the development team is working on making this a possibility.
The Banter social network could become a valuable addition to the cryptocurrency sector. The space is inundated with a large amount of information on a daily basis but much of it is unverified and often designed to influence newcomers. Moreover, opposing opinions easily degenerate beyond what is necessary.
While Banter may not be able to stop the warring mentality common in crypto, it may be able to reduce some of the misinformation because more seasoned users on the platform will quickly suss out what is false, and crypto newbies can use the general sentiment around a post to make more informed decisions.
Perhaps the biggest advantage offered by Banter, however, is the ability to amalgamate the many sources of information in the crypto sphere into a single point. While this depends on adoption by the sector, it may very well make a major difference in how we consume media and interact with each other in the crypto sector.