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CryptoGraffiti: Permanently Preserve Images on the Blockchain



Cryptograffiti.info is a web service that allows people to encode hidden messages into Bitcoin’s blockchain using a special online interface. It has recently added a new and possibly revolutionary functionality — JPG image writing to the blockchain.

Also read: Blockchain is the Next Line of Defense for Cyber Security

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How Does CryptoGraffiti Work?

A visitor can type their message into the text field, pay some bitcoin, and after 1-10 minutes see the message decoded from the blockchain and displayed on the CryptoGraffiti site, along with other messages from the anonymous Bitcoiners.

Untill June 17, 2016, users were only able to send text messages to the blockchain. But now it is possible to have JPG images written to the blockchain alongside text messages.

The images can be up to 50KB in size. And, once the process of publishing to the blockchain is complete, no one on the planet is able to censor, delete or rewrite the information entered by users — it is saved in the blocks forever.

Since it’s the first service in the Bitcoin ecosystem that implements automated image writing to the blockchain, Bitcoin.com reached out to CryptoGraffiti’s creator, Erich Erstu (nickname Hyena), to ask him a few questions about his vision of the task and its possible outcomes for the Bitcoin community.


Bitcoin.com (BC): What do you do for living?

CryptoGraffiti
A photo of young Angela Merkel with Hitler, published to the blockchain for permanent preservation.

Hyena: I am working as a software developer in the capital of Estonia.

BC: How did you come to opening such a cool site as cryptograffiti.info?

Hyena: In 2014 I was studying in the Masters’ program of Software Engineering in the University of Tartu. We had a datamining course and for one of the course homeworks we had to datamine something from the real world and present the results in front of the class. I thought that, what if people have saved messages in the Bitcoin block chain? For example, similarly to how Satoshi wrote “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks” in the very first block of Bitcoin’s block chain. I quickly wrote a program that monitors all bitcoin TX’s and searches for ASCII text from the output addresses of each transaction. As I was hoping, I discovered all kinds of messages, so I made the cryptograffiti.info website that displayed those messages. I presented it as a result of my homework.

BC: Impressive. What services do you intend to implement in future?

Hyena: I intend to implement Proof-of-Existence service as an additional tool for cryptograffiti which allows secure timestamping of files for notary purposes. Also, In the future I’d like to develop some fun provably fair game that is played on bitcoins.

BC: How did you first learn about the Bitcoin technology?

Hyena: I learned about the Bitcoin tech in 2011 from a friend who learned about it on reddit and told me about this “cool new virtual currency that can be used to buy drugs online.” Apparently, he was interested in that sort of thing, but I immediately recognized Bitcoin as an investment opportunity of the century.

BC: Was it scary or fun to learn about Bitcoin in the first time?

Hyena: It was definitely fun to learn about bitcoin because it was my gateway to the secrets of the financial world.

Thanks to Bitcoin, I now know how the world economics work, how central banks operate and all that.

Cryptograffiti Ethereum
A satirical message about the recent DAO troubles.

BC: What do you think about the ecosystem niche for services like yours?

Hyena: Some people argue that services such as cryptograffiti.info cause block chain bloat and are thus immoral. They say that the block chain should not be used for this.

I think it’s the same like saying that the Internet should only be used for publishing scientific articles and to exchange e-mails with relatives. In my opinion, the immutable data storage aspect of the block chain gives intrinsic value to bitcoins and the community should be happy for it.

Bitcoin is not just the magic Internet money but it also offers a platform for censor free communication and trustless notary services.

BC: Your recent post on bitcointalk.org forum says:

I am happy to announce that I have just received a donation of 0.1 bitcoins from en.hotmine.io Smart Heating. It motivated me to implement the image storing functionality. Also, thanks go to the bitcointalk user xumuku who also donated me bitcoins quite some time ago so that I would implement image storing“.

You have many such messages in the thread. Looks like the service has a big fan-base and a real potential to grow. Is it profitable to maintain such a simple looking but very powerful site?

Hyena: With 2 years of operating, people have saved more than 500 messages on the block chain using cryptograffiti.info and I have received 2.1 bitcoins as donations. Considering the current price of bitcoin I can say that I have not been operating with a loss.

The service has a potential to become even more profitable and perhaps it should be one day turned into a conventional business.

I am yet to be approached by investors or people interested in cooperation. Until that, I am just glad to have developed a service that people actually find useful.


Thank you, Erich Erstu, for answering our questions and providing the community with this new functionality. We wish you the best of luck with your project.


Image courtesy of Reddit, CryptoGraffiti.



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