Censorship on social networks, which has only ramped up in recent years, “is only going to push society further into darkness,” says Gerald Liebhardt. His response to this is WhysApp, a messaging, interest community and social interaction platform built on a foundation of Bitcoin micropayments—and support for open and honest discourse.
That also means it might take some exploring to get used to the way WhysApp works, and some of the terminology it uses. Rather than an “accounts” users have “hypercubes”—a lightweight BSV wallet that holds their identities/names and BSV. You create one of these by supplying a random file of over 100 bytes and a password.
A Hypercube can hold any pseudonyms you choose to create, including long-term identities you’d like to be known by, or disposable ones. You can use those identities to chat privately with others or share ideas in a group. The “Hyperspace” section allows you to see who’s around, and where they’re located.
— WhysApp Inc. (@whysapp) July 10, 2020
WhysApp promises “no censorship to the extent legally possible,” and invites users to “Share your voice without fear. Don’t get fired for your opinion.” Using BSV addresses and encrypted files rather than accounts removes much of this concern, and micropayments overcome the financial incentive to censor from advertisers.
Oracles and the Nimbus
There are “Oracles” which combine elements of chat rooms and message boards, with a content ranking system, topics and tags. To “bless” a post allows you to either compliment or criticize it, tip it, and add tags. If that’s not enough, you can “bump” a message to the most popular posts section, which is called the “Nimbus.” The Nimbus is probably the best place to start, if you want to see what others are saying.
“Messages” are anything you post in an Oracle. There’s also “Skywriting,” which is a message on your Hypercube (profile) that everyone can see while you’re online, but which disappears forever once you change it.
We tried out some of WhysApp’s features. Like all budding social networks, its usefulness will be determined as much by network effect and content as by its features, and that can take a while to kick off. We also needed a bit of guidance to get started and to deal with a few errors, though it’s quite simple once you get used to the structure and definitions.
WhysApp is still in test mode and you’ll need an invitation to try it out. The system will reset when it goes public, and funds spent in the test period will be returned. Liebhardt said the price model is also developing and may change depending on usage, but “we want WhysApp to be cheap enough so people don’t worry about the cost, but also feel that BSV micropayments work as a good spam control measure.”
We also chatted with Gerald Liebhardt about the motivations behind creating WhysApp, what he’d like to see it become, and why he built it on BSV. Read on to find out all the details.
Interview with Gerald Liebhardt, founder, WhysApp
Why did you create WhysApp?
I created WhysApp because I feel the world needs better online tools than currently exist today—by a long shot. I also created WhysApp because I believe in Bitcoin SV and the one blockchain vision of Dr. Craig Wright. During my own journey with Bitcoin, I encountered the massive disinformation campaigns and censorship surrounding the scaling debate. WhysApp is a communication tool designed to help individuals, online communities, and societies better deal with disinformation and censorship.
WhysApp is also meant to be a place where rational discussion can happen around difficult topics. Without open and free discussion of our society’s ills, we cannot do much to penetrate them intellectually or better yet cure them. I feel the censorship of ideas and rational discourse from social media sites is only going to push society further into darkness. Everyone needs to be able to use and exercise their power of intellectual discrimination. WhysApp is a place for adults to interact freely, who don’t need social media companies or their governments to tell them what is true and what is not. WhysApp is a place for free thinking individuals to share truth and debate important matters. WhysApp is a place where you can interact locally with people who have the same interests, and strategize globally with those of like mind in other countries or continents. It’s very much the “think globally, act locally” mentality. On WhysApp there are no national borders.
What’s your background, both in Bitcoin and in IT development?
I have been living and breathing computers since a very young age. My first computer was a clone of the original IBM PC when I was 8 years old. I started programming while very young and moved onto a career in corporate information technology. Prior to founding WhysApp I was Managing Director and Chief Information Officer at True Partners Consulting, a Chicago-based tax and business advisory firm founded by ex-Arthur Andersen professionals. While at True Partners I was responsible for all technology services and information security. We worked with a number of fortune 100 clients and took on the private information of their customers, so very strong information security background.
I got into Bitcoin in 2013 after I finally realized it wasn’t video game money and was actually an amazing invention. Like many, I became discouraged with the direction things were going with the “scaling debate.” Everything changed when Dr. Craig Wright came back on the scene. He was able to correct so many misconceptions about Bitcoin and explain the true purpose which was attacked for so many years. His and others’ decisions to take a stand and fight for Bitcoin with the Satoshi Vision really led to an amazing chain of events that concluded in me founding WhysApp Inc.
What problems do you see with currently available messaging platforms?
First, I just want to clear up any misconception that WhysApp is a BSV clone of WhatsApp. That is actually not true and WhysApp is an entirely different creature. This will be easier to understand once you use it and I don’t fault people for making this assumption.
WhysApp stands for wisdom and for asking the question “why?” The question “why” always leads you to more understanding. When I was a child, I used to ask my parents “why does this happen” and “why do people do that.” “Why” is the tool people use to gain understanding and wisdom.
Nevertheless, WhysApp provides public chat rooms, private chat rooms, private person-to-person chat, and global decentralized content upvoting—among others things we will be adding. I think there are many problems with current platforms. First is they seem designed to allow a small amount of people to manipulate the masses. Or they are designed for people to fight, disagree, block each other, and separate into angry factions. To me the Twitter message limit is similar to the BTC block size limit—it stifles what is possible to be discussed on Twitter. Also, many sites have a terrible record on censorship, deleting dissenting opinions, and allowing blatant corporate/government propaganda operations. For WhysApp it was important to re-imagine what is possible rather than clone an existing “big tech” site and the fundamental immorality associated with them.
The other huge problem with current platforms is you must give them permission to steal your private information and track everything you do on the Internet in order to use them. This is an extremely shady practice and leads to an extremely shady business model. WhysApp has nothing to do with that—we don’t serve ads, we don’t track people, and in fact we barely even know who our users are.
Lastly the Bitcoin BSV blockchain allows for the establishment of an unalterable historical record. This is great for a site where people post controversial matters because nobody can manipulate the record of truth or hide the facts from people. Having an unalterable internet record is massively beneficial, especially if we are looking at things people said in the past and want to know if they are correct or have been altered.
Did older services like Bitmessage influence the design? If so, how so?
No older services influenced the design.
You have some whimsical names for the terms you’ve used, like Hypercubes, Oracles, Nimbus, Skywriting and Bless (to name a few). Could you tell me a little about the philosophy that guides your design, definitions, or goals for the project?
I like to look at the world with as much depth as possible. Similarly, it’s easy these days to get lost in language-based abstractions and not appreciate the simple things in life or enjoy the inherent paradoxes of reality. It’s this sense of paradox and mystery I like to reflect in the design of WhysApp. We chose Hypercube to represent users because people are multi-dimensional, appear differently from different perspectives, and change constantly. With WhysApp my goal was to make a site I would want to use, and I would not be afraid to join. I want to create a space where freethinking people can interact and share together and find people of like mind near or far.
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