In discussing bitcoin we have always emphasized that payment is only one potential application of blockchain technology. The decentralized public ledger is a new protocol that enables a fundamenatlly new class of systems: logically centralized but with decentralized control.

What does that mean? Logically centralized means everyone using the protocol agrees on what the state of the world is. For instance, imagine a list of usernames. Everyone agrees which names are on the list and which ones aren’t. So “logically” it is as if the list of names were centralized, as if only a single copy of the list existed. Decentralized control, however, means that there is no entity (for profit or not for profit or even governmental) that controls which names are on the list. It is the protocol that handles that!

Today we are excited to announce that we are supporting the team at Onename in building the foundations for a decentralized identity and authentication system. The decentralized here refers to control. The Open Name System will not be under the control of anyone. Yet it is logically centralized in that everyone agrees on which usernames exist and who holds them. People could participate in this system individually or through delegates (think registrars).

Ryan and Muneeb have done a lot of work on enabling software which they are opensourcing so that others can start to build as well. They are looking for contributors, collaborators and team members as well as early adopters.

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