2020 Q4 Blockchain Commons Report
In Fall 2020, Blockchain Commons continued to work on creating architectures, specifications, and applications to support blockchain infrastructure.
This has included:
- Releasing a trio of Gordian Cosigner apps;
- Advancing wallet interoperability specifications in the Airgapped Wallet community that we host;
- Researching new multisig specifications;
- Releasing a third platform for our seedtool application;
- Publishing Learning Bitcoin from the Command Line 2.0;
- Debuting our new torgap architecture;
- Organizing our reference crypto libraries and applications;
- Starting a DID architecture review;
- Working on Digital Identity laws; and
- Starting our 2021 blockchain internship program.
Here’s a bit more information on everything:
Gordian Cosigner Releases. We have released alpha versions of the entire Gordian Cosigner family of apps, for Android, iOS, and MacOS. These applications support the signing of multisig transactions in an airgapped manner, creating a new level of support for what we see as the future of Bitcoin transactions. Though the iOS and MacOS apps were created in-house, the Android app was developed by Bitmark, who is both a sustaining and contributing sponsor to Blockchain Commons. We are expecting public Testflights of the apps in January, but before we have a full public release, we need to work with the Airgapped Wallet Community on related specifications.
Wallet Community Expansion. We are continuing the successful collaboration with our Airgapped Wallet Community, which has also given us a seat at the table for discussions of wallet standardization. Our Universal Resources (UR) specification and its animated QRs are increasingly being adopted, with our UR library now available in C++, Java, Python, Rust, and Swift. We’ve also been doing extensive work with Bitmark on their Autonomy wallet release, which is built on our Gordian architecture design.
Wallet Community Multisig Research. Our early work with multisigs has shown that critical elements like the m/48’ derivation, PSBTs, and descriptors are all underspecified given modern bitcoin architecture. In addition, current multisig usage doesn’t include schemes to prevent xpub reuse or to secure internal metadata in support of cosigning. In conjuction with our wallet community, we are working on standardizing the methodology for creating account maps for multisig cosigning; investigating ways to store full wallet descriptors and metadata for multisigs without creating new privacy problems; and defining the different roles of multisig cosigners. Some multisig issues are UX-focused, and so we are also defining user interfaces that can help humans to make meaningful decisions when cosigning. This research has included a new release of our Swift-based LifeHashTool. We hope to do more in Q1, to further enable Gordian Cosigner as our premiere multisig release.
Seedtool Expansion. Our seedtool apps, which offer best-practices examples of offline seed generation, continue to expand. We’d previously released a seedtool as part of our LetheKit and upgraded the separate command-line version to beta last quarter. At this point our initial iterations of our seedtools are fully feature-complete, though we’re also planning for future versions with camera support. This quarter we also released an alpha for a third platform: an iOS seedtool, currently code-named Fehu.
Learning Bitcoin 2.0 Release. As planned we released Learning Bitcoin from the Command Line 2.0 at the end of October. Our popular Bitcoin tutorial is now a complete 19-chapter course that starts with the fundamentals of Bitcoin Core usage and continues on through using Lightning and programming in seven languages.
Torgap Architectural Focus. Blockchain Commons is not just about specifications, tutorials, and applications, but also architectures. We want to prototype and exemplify the best methods for creating safe, secure, and private Bitcoin and blockchain systems. This quarter we went public with our work on Torgap, which is a new methodology to ensure separation of interests (and lots of other advantages) by using Tor to segregate neworked services. Not only have we created a Torgap repo as a nexus for the work, but we’ve also been looking at varied Torgap possibilities, including DIDs over Torgaps using a did:onion method and open timestamps over Torgaps.
Crypto Commons Reference Code. We’ve created a large amount of content at Blockchain Commons, and so one of our challenges is making it accessible. We did this in Q4 not just through our core Torgap repo, but also through a similar Crypto Commons repo. It links up all of our crypto reference libraries (which went beta in Q3) as well as the various apps and command-line programs that exercise them, including the new bytewords-cli.
Architectural Review Begun. Blockchain Commons also does more direct work with companies to improve the usage and trust for blockchain systems. This quarter we have begun a security architecture review of a major Decentralized IDentifier (DID) deployment that should reach one million or more people. We’ve been involved with DIDs since they were incubated at Rebooting the Web of Trust, so we’re proud to do the first major review of such a system.
Decentralized Identity Evangelization. Christopher Allen is continuing his work with the Wyoming legislature, where he is now a member of Digital Identity and DAO subcomittees. He’s been working on what will be the first laws anywhere to recognize personal digital identity (as opposed to digital data, which is the focus of many current laws). This legal definition is intended to work with legacy identity systems, but also to support future decentralization. He also has been leading another bill to give special legal protection for private keys.
Trusted Processor Research. We are always researching and analyzing the newest cryptography and blockchain innovations. This quarter that included an examination of trusted processors. We hope to advance that toward interoperable specifications for trusted hardware in the future.
Internship Planning. Finally, we are planning for new intern cohorts for 2021. We have posted a complete announcement.
For other recent announcements, see:
- The Q3 Quarterly Report (10/6)
- Blockchain Releases Feature-complete LetheKit (10/28)
- Learning Bitcoin Upgrades to v2 (10/30)
- Blockchain Commons Joins COPA (11/10)
- Blockchain Commons’ Uniform Resources (URs) Support Airgapped PSBTs & More
If you’d like to support our work at Blockchain Commons, so that we can create the next specifications, architectures, reference applications, and reference libraries to be used by the whole community, please become a sponsor. You can alternatively make a one-time bitcoin donation at our BTCPay.
Thanks to our sustaining sponsors, Bitmark, Blockchainbird, and Unchained Capital, as well as our GitHub Sponsors, including Flip Abignale (@flip-btcmag), Dario (@mytwocentimes), Foundation Devices (@Foundation-Devices), Adrian Gropper (@agropper), Zach Herbert (@zachherbert), Eric Kuhn (@erickuhn19), Alexandre Linhares (@Alex-Linhares), Trent McConaghy (@trentmc), Mark S. Miller (@erights), @modl21, Protocol Labs (@protocol), Dan Trevino (@dantrevino), and Glenn Willen (@gwillen).
Christopher Allen, Executive Director, Blockchain Common