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There is a new protocol that allows users to create and share digital objects on Ethereum. They are called Ethscriptions—an apparent tip of the hat to Inscriptions, a similar project by Ordinals deployed on the Bitcoin network.
Developed by Tom Lehman, co-founder and former CEO of Genius.com, the project launched on Saturday and saw explosive interest. Nearly 30,000 Ethscriptions were created in less than 18 hours, according to Lehman, who tweeted that the launch was a “huge success.”
Ethscriptions enable non-financial and arbitrary data to be written into the main Ethereum blockchain. Users can inscribe any type of file provided it is under 96 kilobytes in size. According to its creator, however, it currently only allows for images—but that will change in the future.
These inscriptions leverage what’s known as Ethereum “calldata,” which refers to the data provided within a call made to a smart contract. According to Lehman, the protocol is cheaper and more decentralized than using contract storage.
The [protocol] “guarantees global uniqueness of the content of all valid Ethscriptions,” the creator tweeted, saying that “it's skating to where the puck is going in an L2 world.”
Lehman, perhaps in a bid for notoriety, called for famed NFT collection Crypto Punks to be “ethscribed.” It successfully sparked a frenzy, and copies of the 10,000 images were inscribed in a matter of hours.
The launch echoes the Ordinals launch on Bitcoin, NFT-style images and other non-financial data included in the main chain’s ledger. The arrival of Ordinals, however, triggered dismay from many in the maximalist community.
The difference in reception is the Ethereum community’s apparent openness to innovation and experimentation.
“The exciting thing for me about Ethscriptions, similar to Ordinals, is that developers are playing around again with blockchain technology,” self-proclaimed NFT archaeologist Adam McBride told Decrypt. “It’s this experimentation that drives innovation and adoption,”
Much like the Ordinal craze, this weekend has seen significant interest from new protocol users. This led Ethscriptions to suffer several periods of downtime, with Lehman tweeting, “Sorry everything is crashing! Too many people.”
Although this weekend brought an impressive debut for the protocol, some say it already existed. McBride says this technology has been around for years, with certain artists already using it in their work.
Still, he told Decrypt “this is the first time it’s gained widespread awareness.”
Whether Ethscriptions are a fly-by-night fad or an exciting new trend will ultimately be determined by the community.