By now, we all know that Decred has some pretty remarkable tech that’s pushing the boundaries of what an open-source blockchain can do. Since my early days of learning about Decred, there was one piece of tech that genuinely interested me, and that was timestamping. Coming from a music production background, where each new production goes through multiple copy protection procedures. I could see this tool filling the gap and giving a convenient, and affordable way of protecting original content.
To date, it surprises me that more hasn’t been done with this service, both externally and internally. DCRTime is an open-source tool that anyone can build with and have their information timestamped to the Decred blockchain.
One service that’s been built internally on DCRTime is, Timestamply, a super efficient timestamping service which allows for an almost infinite amount of timestamping at no cost. Timestamping is a way of proving a digital item existed at a certain point in time. Pretty much any digital item can be uploaded to this service to output a unique 32 byte identifier. This identifier is then included into a block on the Decred blockchain and is irreversible after several block confirmations. The identifier will live on the blockchain forever and is easily callable when needed.
The item identifier, better known as the merkle root, can then be used to verify the item exists and is unaltered. This can be done either by entering the identifier in the box provided or re-uploading the item in the verify file area. Proof of existence is a powerful tool that shows the document in question existed at a certain point in time and is unaltered from its original state. With some careful refinement and additional tools, it would also be possible to show proof of ownership.
This year, I’m excited to see the project getting some much-needed attention and updates. A small group of developers and community members have taken up the mantle to improve Timestamply. The catalyst for this new momentum came when Brazilian president Lula da Silver used Decred’s timestamping service in the 2022 election. The party used the service to register the government’s plans on-chain, which allows voters to authenticate the document. This makes it easier to check if information received about the election campaign is true or false. In essence, they used it to combat fake news, the campaign was a massive success.
In my mind, this was, at last, the recognition the Decred project deserves. A Decred service being used for a real-world purpose and showing that blockchain is a society changing tech that has many useful features, especially when truly decentralised and irreversible.
Now it’s time to see how far we can take this tool. In December 2022, Decred community member “sænder” drafted a design document outlining design and user improvements. This was then followed up with some initial development work and a proposal by Tiago Alves Dulce that aimed to get full support from the community to implement these improvements.
The proposal was a considerable success and during February 2022, the new site was launched with the innovative design and features discussed in the design docs.
The design looks great, and in my opinion, there’s so much unrealised value in this service that I'm thrilled to see this community initiative being supported and helping move the service forward. In the future, I could see DCRTime and Decred timestamping becoming a fully fledged notary, copyright and patenting system. Which anyone can conveniently use and at zero cost. When you consider how much notaries charge for their centralised limited service, it’s not hard to see, this could be a massive game changer in the field of intellectual and property protections.
This is an astonishing overhaul, and in future videos we’ll take at look at how to use Timestamply. And also investigate other practical, business, personal and financial uses for this uniquely disruptive tech.
Question: What industries or services do you think DCRTime could improve, disrupt or replace?
- Timestamply website – https://timestamp.decred.org/
- sænder’s design documents – https://xd.adobe.com/view/e777b264-c0b3-4217-51c2-70fd78d501db-9146/grid
- Timestamply Proposal – https://proposals.decred.org/record/855a506