New York Tech Journal
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#Blockstack: an introduction

Posted on May 4th, 2016


05/04/2016 @ AWS popup loft, 350 West Broadway, NY


Blockstack offers secure identification based on blockchain encryption and confirmation. Six speakers described the underlying machinery and applications.

As in Bitcoin, Blockstack promises secure identification and transactions without using a central verifying agent.

The BlockStack application stack from the bottom up contains:

  1. Blockchain – want to use the most secure chain, which is currently bitcoin.
  2. Naming – intermediate pseudonym
  3. Identity – establish who you are
  4. Authentication – use electronic signature
  5. Storage – put pointers in the block chain, so you need storage for the actual information
  6. Apps built on top of the stack


  1. Cryptcurrency blockchain
  2. Virtual blockchain – gives flexibility to migrate to another cryptocurrency.
  3. Routing – pointers data location. Initially used a DHT (distributed hash table).
  4. Data on cloud servers. Could be Dropbox, S3, …

1&2 are the control plane, above that is data plane

The current implementation uses a bitcoin wallet for identity and requires 10 blockchain confirmations to set up a person.

Applications presented

  1. OpenBazaar (a place to buy and sell without an intermediary) has a long identification string for each buy/sell. Blockstack provides a secure mapping of these ids to a simpler human-readable id
  2. Mediachain is a data network for information on creative works in which contributed information is validated by the contributor’s identity. All objects are IPFS + IPLD objects with information saved to Merkel trees. They are working on the challenge of private key management: high volumes of registrations and the need to register on behalf of 3rd
  3. IPFS (interplanetary file system) proposes to
    1. Create a DNS based on the package content which will allow copies to be located on several locations in the network
    2. Greater individual control over DNS names independent of any centralized naming body
    3. There are three levels of naming
      1. The content defines the address through a hash tag. But if the blog changes, the address changes.
      2. Key name. a mutable layer of names that is stable even as the content changes


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