Blockchain censored?

I strongly believe that Blockchain is the DNA of Web3, and it is crucial to determine what should and shouldn’t be stored on the blockchain. As computer scientists, we often feel that we should do something, simply because we can. However, the recent story of the Taproot Wizards on Twitter highlights that living in the wild, wild west means that the road to a more civilized society will be paved with many choices. These choices will help all the locals and self-proclaimed authorities involved to figure out how to coexist with each other and make the best choices.

The real question we should be asking ourselves is “What should be stored on the Blockchain?” Take the example of a real estate transaction – where is the “transaction” stored? The answer depends on how you define the transaction. We could think of all the documents that go with buying a house as the transaction, including the mortgage, construction loan, and compliance documents. However, the most crucial event of the transaction is the exchange of ownership papers and related assets and the money paid by the buyer.

The Blockchain is supposed to be a transactional ledger, and in the case of real estate, there are multiple ledgers documenting different parts of the transaction. These individual papers often get recorded in separate ledgers, but the ledger itself mainly contains the record that an event happened, not the entire contents from the event. Blockchain is not intended to be a general-purpose storage medium.

The big question is not about security, as secure storage has existed in many different forms for many years. The significant question is whether the security model is tied to some “centrally” controlled system, like a corporate network, or whether the security model is decentralized. The problem with decentralized, distributed models is the issue of trust. Many parties in a distributed system may be sophisticated in understanding security issues in an open environment, while others may be less sophisticated or even naive.

To me, the answer is simple: keep the ledger lean and mean. It is not meant to sustain heavy operations and content, and it is expensive. Instead, secure the references and the access key to the payloads in the blockchain and use systems like IPFS (InterPlanetary File System) to store the actual contents in secured storage. This approach allows for timestamping and securing content without having to put the data itself on-chain.

In conclusion, the blockchain should not be censored. However, some discretion should be exercised in deciding what to put on the chain and what not to, as otherwise, incidents like the Taproot Wizards will continue to occur.





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