[messaging] Namecoin, squatting and decentralized solutions to Zooko's triangle

Mike Hearn mike at plan99.net
Mon Aug 3 03:39:20 PDT 2015

Globally unique+meaningful names have become less relevant over the years
with advances in search technology.

Google decimated the need for a great domain name on the web, because of
its ability to neutrally decide who wins for any given term, the ability to
show multiple results and personalisation resolving ambiguity. People still
like to have a cute domain name for branding reasons, but tricks like
deliberate misspellings (Flickr et al) are exploited way more now as having
an awkward domain isn't an impediment to being found.

And Facebook killed off the idea of a globally unique username for
communication. People still use email, of course, but research has shown
entire generations have virtually stopped using it outside of the work
environment (where Facebook is not interested in competing). They all
migrated en-masse to social networks and mobile networks. Partly because
exchange of contact details is implicit in the act of meeting someone.

So I feel like Namecoin is solving yesterdays problem. The goal should not
be to build a decentralised key->value store, because there's no solution
to squatting in such a scheme. The goal should be to research decentralised
search engines. Of course, it may be the case that "decentralised search
engine" is an oxymoron: search engines implicitly encode ranking judgements
that are essentially the opinions of the people who built them.
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