The inspiration for this article came from an unusual place. Normally when I hear about new projects or technology it’s from reading Medium or other platforms but in this case Nimses came from a PewDiePie video. He wasn't the only person to discuss this app or be sponsored by them but having the formerly number one Youtuber endorse your product is really something.
The concept behind Nimses is incredibly alluring. It’s a social media platform that rewards people with a Crypto token for the time the spend on the app. Users can also gain tokens from getting friends to join and theres an entire ranking system for how much influence you have, ranging from user to Idol. As Pewds mentions in his video the larger this grows the more legitimacy the token can gain. At this very moment Nimses has attributed actual value to one of their tokens (as they call assets) where 1 nim is given for 1 minute you spend on the app. If you wish to buy a larger token called a dominim (worth roughly 525,960 nims) you can buy one from them for $120.
Although this sounds like something out of a BlackMirror episode I got excited. I’ve been waiting for someone to legitimately create a social media platform based on blockchain to combat the ridiculous amount of data being taken from us for Advertisement. I decided to check out their white paper to see what their technology is like.
*Spoiler Alert: It’s not that*
White Paper Overview
The first paragraph outlines the problem they are trying to solve. The double spending problem is a well know issue and is the driving point behind blockchain. We as a society rely on third party organizations such as Governments or banks to authenticate transactions. Normally with digital currencies users have no way of knowing how many times the other user has spent the currency they sent them (hence the name). Blockchains are essentially just a public ledger where the proof of work (authentication of transactions) is performed across many nodes on a network. This way people don’t have to put their trust into giant corporations or institutions that are renown for corruption.
They then talk a bit about transaction speed and computational power in blockchain networks. These are genuine problems that many platforms such as Iota and EOS are trying to address. When I read this I thought maybe they found a way to increase the speed of transactions or maybe they've found a more efficient way to authenticate transactions (similar to IOTA's method of confirming the previous two transactions before making one). Nimses though propose what they call a “Hybrid system”. It took me a bit of reading to actually understand what they mean by this.
Transactions between users are signed with private keys and the hash of the previous transaction is attached to the current one. So far this is just a simple version of a blockchain. Like other blockchain networks the hash of previous transactions is publicly available so anyone can make one.
The white paper then starts discussing their “hybrid system” again and mention a “centralized timestamp server”. They talk about how on the Timestamp server transactions are put into a queue and how the server makes sure that the transaction hash is in the right order with transaction history. What they mean by this is that all the proof of work and authentication is done on a central serve operated by them.
No I’m not kidding.
So that’s the secret to their amazing speed and reliability. Instead of a peer-to-peer, decentralized system that is trust-less you can trust Nimses to deal with your data and authenticate your transactions.
The audacity of saying that people have too much reliance on large institutions while simultaneously saying “don’t worry guys you can rely on us” is mind boggling.
Another supposed problem they came up with is that people can’t confirm their own transaction authenticity. This is a major issue if you have a centralized system but surely if all the proof of work is done here then you don't need to use a consensus algorithm like other blockchain networks. They made the right assumption though that users may want to actually know their transaction succeeded. So in order to allow users to view all transaction history they place the transaction details on the Bitcoin network then broadcast the blocks on their website. Brilliant.
To sum up the system in a nutshell you as a user sign your transaction with private key encryption. Then a central server ran by Nimses will make sure this transaction is valid, write the transaction info to an actual blockchain that takes up to 8 minutes to validate then eventually puts this info up on their website so the user can confirm their transaction.
So instead of relying on a decentralized system where nodes are rewarded for preforming proof of work Nimses controls all your transaction data completely eliminating the point of a blockchain. This is while also using a prehistoric blockchain system that nobody uses for D-apps anymore.
It’s OK though you can trust them. They only sell ads on their site, request your personal data and require access to your camera and microphone.
Now I know people are going to point out that platforms like Facebook and Twitter are already taking this data from us. The only difference is that they’re not also virtue signalling that we need to rely less on 3rd party institutions an that our data is safe with them.
Although the rise of the blockchain bubble led to too many pump and dump schemes to count there is a very significant difference to Nimses and all the other d-apps (Nimses technically isn’t a decentralized app). When a group decide to release a new erc-20 token called “whatever-coin” they are either relying on people to buy their coins with real money on their ICO or they’re hoping that the platform or service their coin is based on will gather enough users that the economic activity will raise the value of the coin.
What this means is that if a blockchain based business isn’t just running a pump and dump scheme they have a very genuine incentive to offer value. This is different for Nimses though as they fall into neither of these categories. Their business model is first and foremost to get as many users onto their platform so they can sell ads. Facebook recently enough bought WhatsApp because of how much extra value a phone number is to an ad-selling company. The bare minimum you need to sign up with Nimses is a phone number, a name, gender and a location.
There are a lot of genuine issues with blockchain and DLTs but if your solution to these problems is to have more centralized systems then you're not doing anything new or innovative. You're simply doing the same thing society has done for millions of years which has caused too many problems to list.
Although the idea of a social media platform based on blockchain is intriguing I'm avoiding Nimses like the plague.
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