[messaging] The Simple Thing

Alaric Snell-Pym alaric at snell-pym.org.uk
Fri Sep 26 05:34:15 PDT 2014

On 26/09/14 12:42, Joseph Birr-Pixton wrote:
> On 24 September 2014 23:48, Tao Effect <contact at taoeffect.com> wrote:
>> OK, but you've glossed over all the details and then declared it to be
>> simple.
> ...
>> The Blockchain *is* the simple thing.
>> Here's how email would work with the blockchain (once software matures):
>> To send someone an email:
>> 1) Enter their email address.
>> 2) Type message and click send.
>> Done. And the correct key is fetched from the blockchain based on their
>> email.
>> To receive an email:
>> 1) Receive an email.
>> Done.
>> To reply to an email.
>> 1) See "to send someone an email".
>> It is simple, but it is also secure.
> You've glossed over the details (of how a user gets his mail->key
> mapping into the blockchain) and then declared it to be simple.

Oooh, I think I can answer that one.

You install your blockchainmail client, and it tells you a made-up "raw"
address (bunch of base56), and you use an online exchange to buy some
NMC or whatever currency and send them to that address. This is the
hardest part, but more exchanges and better UIs on them is something
that will improve in time; it's a matter of building businesses, which
will happen if there's demand.

In an ideal world, your blockchainmail client knows what the best
exchange for your location is, and sends you directly to their web site
(passing the raw address through for you) so you just pay your dollar or
whatever with your card; or type/scan in a code from a "pre-pay card"
you buy at a local shop.

Once you have some money in your blockchainmail client, you can then try
and register a "nice address", which will succeed or fail (if the
address is already taken) - in the latter case, try another. Under the
hood, it spends your NMC balance to set up an address mapping pointing
to some underlying mail delivery thingy, such as an existing SMTP
mailbox, or its own peer-to-peer protocol, or whatever - you don't
really need to know. And, of course, to a public key.

Once that's done, you now have a name you can hand out to people, which
is globally assigned to a public key which your client holds the private
part of.

I don't think blockchains are a panacea for global identity - but
they're pretty sweet. I think the problems with them are more likely to
be economic (will there be lots of easy-to-use exchanges, or other ways
of buying/earning NMC? and what will the actual cost of registering a
name be, in the long run?)

> Cheers,
> Joe


Alaric Snell-Pym

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