TheWritersBlock

A decentralized blogging app, built on Ethereum. Made at Hack Chicago 2018.

Deployed on IPFS. Requires Metamask for use.

This is hosted on repl.it, glitch.com, and IPFS. Because of this, the combined code on this repository might not work.

We imagine a world where writers, bloggers, and journalists no longer have to struggle to make a living. A decentralized app that is built for writers incentivizes quality work that readers can directly support. It's fast, easy, profitable, and, most importantly, censorship-free. This has the potential to reshape the way we think of funding news and journalism.

How it works

The website is hosted on repl.it and glitch.com. Although this is not completely decentralized, it allows for easier access with the decentralized portions. When someone submits a new post, it writes a file on the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), a decentralized network storage solution. The data it writes is then encrypted and run on a blockchain, which ensures a very high level of security without a single point of failure. We used Vue.js to render data stored in IPFS to a human-readable format.

We used the Ethereum network as the primary cryptocurrency for the payment of users. We decided to do this because Ethereum transactions process much faster than Bitcoin, and Ethereum provides a platform that makes it easy to interact with other users on the blockchain via smart contracts. Along with Ethereum, we used their Web3.js API to interact with the blockchain and process transactions.

We use MetaMask for authentication. MetaMask allows for anyone to participate in the Ethereum network without having to download the entire blockchain (as many full nodes usually need to do). MetaMask generates a wallet addresss for you, and lives with you as a browser extension that you use to authenticate payments and identify yourself as an author of a story.

For more info on how users can use The Writer's Block, see the demo video above (and ask us questions during the demo time!).

What we learned

We faced a lot of challenges when developing this app, because half of us had never made a decentralized app on Ethereum before, and the other half of us have little to no experience with web development or programming. Because of this, we delegated tasks and we all learned a lot about the aspects of the app that we programmed through the challenges we faced.

The future of The Writer's Block

This is meant to be nothing more than a proof of concept app. For starters, we would love to make it completely decentralized by running it as an Electron app instead of on a centralized web host. We would also like to add more functionality that one would expect from a blogging site, such as seeing how long you have to read, deleting posts, and having the option to link a human-readable name to your Ethereum address so that others who read your content can better recognize you. We still have a long way to go if we choose to develop this app in the future, but one thing we know for sure is that we have stumbled upon an idea that can potentially completely change the way we think about funding news and journalism.

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