Tag Archives: Bitcoin

A Brief History of Blockchain Name Systems – Lightning Talk

Title: A Brief History of Blockchain Name Systems
Speaker: John Light

Video of this talk: (YouTube) – (Internet Archive)

This talk took place Sunday, November 5, 2017

Aaron Swartz once published a blog post entitled “Squaring the Triangle“, hypothesizing that a blockchain could be used to create a name system that had secure, decentralized, and human-readable names, thus “squaring” Zooko’s Triangle.

Since that post was published, numerous blockchain name systems have been developed, putting Aaron’s idea into practice. This talk will give a brief overview of the most popular blockchain name systems* in production and show some of their applications.


  1. Squaring Zooko’s Triangle – Aaron Swartz’ Raw Thought, January 6, 2011 – http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/squarezooko
  2. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), January 14, 2011 – https://squaretriangle.jottit.com/faq
  3.  A Censorship-Resistant Web (Re: “The Distribution Problem”) – Aaron Swartz’ Raw Thought, December 21, 2010 – http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/uncensor
  4. *The most popular blockchain name systems are:

Namecoin – https://namecoin.org/

Namecoin was the first fork of Bitcoin and still is one of the most innovative “altcoins”. It was first to implement merged mining and a decentralized DNS. Namecoin was also the first solution to Zooko’s Triangle, the long-standing problem of producing a naming system that is simultaneously secure, decentralized, and human-meaningful.

Blockstack – https://blockstack.org/

Blockstack is a new internet for decentralized apps where users own their data. With Blockstack, users get digital keys that let them own their identity. They sign in to apps locally without remote servers or identity providers.

Ethereum Name System (ENS) – https://ens.domains/

ENS offers a secure and decentralised way to address resources both on and off the blockchain using simple, human-readable names. ENS is built on smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain, meaning it doesn’t suffer from the insecurity of the DNS system. You can be confident names you enter work the way their owner intended.