Blip: Exploring Arweave's Power To Build An Open Youtube

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Editor: Adeola @ Contributor of PermaDAO

Reviewer: Xiaosong HU@ Contributor of PermaDAO

When the founders of Arweave set out to build the protocol, they wanted to build what would serve as the modern day Library of Alexandria. They wanted to build a platform that would be a one stop location for records of history and knowledge of every fact.

Six years down the line, there are over one billion transactions stored on the Arweave blockchain, guaranteed permanent storage of at least 200 years. The transactions contain a variety of contents, from smart contracts to media, including pictures, audio, videos and non-fungible tokens.

But it is not just transactions that are growing on the protocol. Use cases are also growing as more applications are being built by developers that operate on the Arweave protocol. A platform where millions of contents are uploaded daily, opens an avenue for a series of opportunities including content sharing and content monetization.

Blip is a project that is already exploring video sharing services by leveraging the capabilities of Arweave. Built and demonstrated by Vedant Chainani (prefers to be called Vedant) at the just concluded Arweave Community Hackathon organised by Only Arweave with partners across the Arweave ecosystem. Blip won in multiple tracks: Use of the Universal Data Licence to represent work in creative ways and one of the suggested ideas is to build an open Youtube-style platform on Arweave that lets users browse for videos, tip creators and buy into the revenue streams for content sponsored by Forward Research; best use of ArweaveKit by Community Labs; best use of ArConnect. won $5,000 for the Universal Data Licence category; $1000 for best use of ArweaveKit; $700 for best use of ArConnect. About 275 applications were received for the hackathon.

Vedant told this writer that existing applications do not focus on video and that there were opportunities to be explored.

“While there are many social apps coming in the Web3 space, such as Lenster, Farcaster and Orb, they do not specifically focus on video sharing. This was the motivation for Blip to create a dedicated video sharing experience,” Vedant said in an interview.

Beyond permanent storage on Arweave, Blip offers users the opportunity to embed the licence in their videos which stipulates how the content can be used, including terms around revenue sharing and commercialisation terms. Vedant said this was made possible through the Universal Data License. UDL, which was released in beta in July, allows users to atomically embed a programmable and legally enforceable licence inside any type of data uploaded to Arweave and generate income from royalty.

“In addition to uploading videos to Arweave, Blip offers various features. Creators can license their videos using the Universal Data License and interact with videos just like they would on traditional video sharing apps, such as liking videos and following creators,” Vedant said.

Blips ensures that interactions with uploaded video such as comments, likes and dislikes are backed by smart contracts. It also used ArweaveKit to integrate multiple wallets which gives users multiple options such as ArConnect, Arweave.app and Othent. It incorporates the dynamism of profile customization by offering ArProfile for avatars, handles and names on the Arweave Network. Using Livepeer, it transcodes videos live and reduces latency to give users a smooth streaming experience.

A developer and technical writer from India, Vedant said he began his Web3 journey two years ago after first learning about it from a TV series, Silicon Valley. Although Vedant is not new to the Arweave Protocol, he never built his own project until the hackathon.

“Over the past year, I've been learning and building projects, and I recently started participating in hackathons. Some of my past projects include Aura, a decentralised chat app built using the XMTP Protocol, and Arkway, a secure file storage solution where you can encrypt and upload files to IPFS, similar to a web3 Google Drive,” he said.

“Arweave Community Hackathon was one of the best I've attended in a long time. The mentors were amazing, and the community in the Discord channels was active and helpful. The informative office hours and sessions helped resolve most of my doubts.”

He said building Blip came with challenges encountered when interacting with smart contracts in the browser environment with injected wallets. He added that using Bundlr in transactions was also difficult, making him turn to an alternative.

“In our quest for a solution, we turned to the Warp SDK, which allowed us to carry out contract interactions without relying on Bundlr,” he said.

On future plans for Blip, Vedant said the project is open source and it was being remodelled to integrate with Lens Protocol, a permissionless, composable, and decentralised social graph that makes building a Web3 social platform easy. With this, users can carry over their social connections and enjoy the benefits of Arweave. More features are being added to Blip in the Nights and Weekends S4 by Buildspace.

“We're integrating Blip with the Lens Protocol so that users don't have to start from scratch and can retain their social connections while enjoying all the core features of Arweave,” he said.

Leveraging the power of Arweave, Blip gives users assurances Web2 Youtube does not. Videos on Youtube could be deleted at any time if the company decides it violates its policies. Videos saved on Arweave are saved permanently, although it has measures in place to prevent harmful data from being given permanence.

Global data storage is a billion dollar market. It is expected to hit $777.98 billion by 2030 from $247.32 billion in 2023 and $217.02 billion in 2022. The Arweave Protocol would need more than just the promise to store data forever if it is to have a share of the market data storage. Global digital video content market is estimated to reach $355.2 billion by 2028 from $171.5 billion in 2022, content monetisation feature on Arweave could help the protocol position itself to get a share of the market.

Beyond ushering new developers and projects into the ecosystem, the Arweave Community Hackathon proved that almost all the tools developers need to build on the protocol exist in the ecosystem. It also shows that there is more to be discovered about Arweave in terms of innovations.

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