Developer of Xiaoxieyi: Born in 1994 and learn blockchain from Silicon Valley
Xiaoxieyi, the first blockchain Wechat applet, was suspended 6 hours after it went live on 9 May. Then it was let out at 10:30 am on 10 May and was once again blocked at 16:20pm the same day. Wechat claimed that “encryption” is out of the service scope that the platform open to developers.
Helen, reporter of 8BTC, has conducted exclusive interview with Wang Dengke, the developer behind the applet.
Born in 1994 and learn blockchain from Silicon Valley
8btc: How old are you?
I was born in 1994, most of the films produced this year were very good.
8btc: Well, for example?
“Forrest Gump”, “Shawshank’s Redemption”, “Brave Heart”…
8btc: Where are you based? How many people behind the applet?
Beijing, I did with a colleague.
8btc: Can you share the story of you and the blockchain?
I learned the idea of blockchain from “Silicon Valley”, Have you watched the TV series?
8btc: No, I would like to hear more.
I think this drama is better than the “the theory of Big Bang” and it is particularly realistic. Technology practitioners, especially those related to the blockchain, must watch it. The leading character have developed a fictional compression algorithm in the previous seasons, which can achieve powerful compression ratio. Many stories happened during the process. He later realized that if this algorithm is used to build decentralized networks, the efficiency of distributed systems can be solved. It’s like if size of Ethereum blockchain is compressed to 10M, which could be stored in anyone’s mobile phone and become a node. This is the true decentralized network.
I don’t think big. I like to play with interesting things.
8btc: What’s your plan in the blockchain industry?
It’s far from plan. We prefer the word “playing with” and we started playing in the second half of last year.
8btc: What are you playing with?
We have made a blockchain tool that can help you issue tokens, manage tokens visually, and blockchain APIs. The “xiaoxieyi” protocol is built directly using the API provided by this tool. This tool would have been very useful, but many people just wanted to use it to make money and we have rejected a lot of them. So we tried to let everyone know that the blockchain is not just about making money.
8btc: Why did you build the wechat applet?
First of all, because we did some blockchain infrastructure before. We always wanted to use these underlying protocols to build application. We find it strange that all blockchain projects seem to describe a big picture and they must do an ICO. Blockchain can do something smaller, fun, and useful, and we want to do something like this.
8btc: Is “xiaoxieyi” mainly designed from the perspective of “useful” or “interesting”?
Why can’t we have both at the same time?
Xiaoxieyi exist eternally even if it is blocked.
8btc: What is the major utility of blockchain technology? What do you hope it can be used for?
On many occasions, the interaction between people is based on trust. For example, if you borrow a few thousand yuan from a friend, it’s an awkward number. It’s very troublesome to draft a formal contract. If it’s just a verbal agreement, then it’s short of legal binding force. That’s when “xiaoxieyi” become handy, it is right between the formal contract and verbal agreement.
8btc: So it is not a binding agreement at the legal level, but an emotional evidence?
No, no, no, Chinese law recognizes electronic evidence. China’s laws even recognize verbal agreements, but the problem is that verbal agreement are difficult to represented. So contract based on “xiaoxieyi” is more effective than a verbal agreement.
8btc: Why do we have to it through blockchain? We can sign a paper note or screenshot of our chat log.
But that can be tampered with. Picture could be modified.
8btc: But the applet was banned and the agreement disappeared.
The applet maybe banned but as long as you back up the hash, you can find your agreement on Ethereum network and nothing will change.
No absolute privacy, theoretically we can see all the agreements
8btc: Is there any interesting case to share? For example, I have seen my friends share a “cooking agreement,” in which Party A promises to cook food for Party B for a lifetime. This is a show of love in disguise.
We have also seen many tender and sweet agreements, such as a father sign with her daughter an agreement that he promise to go home to have dinner on time. This has nothing to do with politics or even technology. It is only an expression of affections.
8btc: So can you see the contents of the agreement?
8btc: So there is no privacy for users?
The public agreement will be publicly recorded on the Ethereum network. Everyone can see it. But the encrypted one could be viewed by the signers. I’m technical, so I must admit that, theoretically, we can see all the contents as we code the protocol. But we have no reason nor motivation to do so. This is just like Wechat can theoretically see everyone’s chat records. Absolute privacy protection is difficult. However, even an open agreement cannot be identified. We construct the signature so that the identity can be verified, but it cannot be inferred from the signature.
The applet was banned twice in two days. How did the developer feel?
“You may not believe me. I feel that it’s not easy for Tencent. Although it’s so powerful that you can call it Tencent Empire, I actually had a little sympathy for the company, even if I am nothing compared with it.”
As for the future plan, Wang Dengke said that he would continue to explore small but interesting applications with blockchain within the framework of wechat and regulation.