4Chan, the bulletin board the internet loves to hate, hit the news today as the source of the alt-right NPC meme that Twitter has been desperately trying to ban. But while the website and its love of memes continue to irk just about everybody, over on its business and finance board, known as /biz/, there's a community of crypto lovers that have been celebrating their (modest) notoriety for more respectable reasons.
In this cozy corner of the internet, they're huge fans of an obscure coin that has, until today been languishing in 53rd in the coin market cap rankings. Chainlink is an oracle provider, something that connects blockchains to external data sources. While not as sexy as a 3,000 transactions-per-second platform like EOS nor an anonymous coin promising drastically reduced fees like Monero, it's been picked as the perfect partner for the Web3 Foundation--a steward for the decentralized web--and its Polkadot project, a protocol designed to connect private and public blockchains in a wider ecosystem.
It's big news for Chainlink, which has only just gone live on two testnets earlier this month. In that time however, its managed to combine its oracle with package delivery data from FedEx, flight information from FlightStats and cryptocurrency price data from three websites.
“Beginning with an implementation for the Polkadot project, we are creating a future with secure smart contracts connected with real-world off-chain data.” Sergey Nazarov, CEO of Chainlink, in a statement.
Chainlink is planning to do much the same for Polkadot, acting as a verifier of truth out in the real world. The oracle provider works by collecting real-world data from multiple sources. Its nodes check and verify the data with other nodes to ensure results are consistent, and then adds that data to a smart contract that acts out its prescribed action on its chosen blockchain. As Chainlink is decentralized, the data should, in theory, be tamper proof and accurate. The end goal is to enable smart contracts to execute based on real-world events, such as a bet automatically settling after the match has been won.
Polkadot's USP, meanwhile, is being able to stitch blockchains together and provide a means for them to talk to each other without disturbing the foundations they're built on. Pairing with Chainlink would allow them to wrap all coins and tokens up into an interconnected web, fed by real world events and datasets that update and change blockchains automatically. Neato.
But, more importantly, what's with the 4Chan community, and how come they've been such devoted followers to a project that few have heard of for so long? The religious-like fervor seems to originate from one source: a pseudonymous “prophet,” or ahem, oracle, known as AssBlaster. Mr Blaster has a reputation for predicting--or causing--pumps in Chainlink’s price, leaking insider information and claiming the coin will reach $200. Could he also be the architect of this new WebSummit partnership? Who knows.
What we do know is the project has been notoriously media shy. Its CEO, Russian Sergey Nazarov, hasn’t posted anything on his personal Twitter since March. In fact, the whole project has been keeping schtum on what it's been up to, attracting criticism from the wider community for not using its considerable funds--it raised some $32 million in an ICO--to attract people to the project. Is Chainlink the bridge into the real world blockchain has been crying out for? Time will tell.
Now that Chainlink has somewhat reluctantly shuffled into the crypto limelight, they, like the project's secretive 4Chan fans, are going to have to learn to play nicely with the rest of the internet.