Why we’re building TrueBlocks

Thomas Jay Rush
4 min readJan 3


It’s time to make amends

This week, we’re going to finalize the second draft of our Specification for the Unchained Index. We’ve written the conclusion and thought we’d share it, as it is the best explanation yet of why we’re building what we’re building. This is copied verbatim from the soon-to-be-released second draft of the spec.

…[t]here is one thing left to explain. Why did we build the Unchained Index? Unfortunately, a sixty-page paper devoted to this question would be reasonable, but suffice it to say that we want to “re-change” the world. One of us (Rush) played a vanishingly small part in “changing the world” back in the 1990s during the birth of the world-wide-web. He wishes to make amends.

Humans have more than 25 years of experience living in a world dominated by websites. We are only now coming to understand the effects of decisions made in the 1990s when the web stack was being formed. Back then, everyone was wildly enthusiastic about the architectural decisions being made, but we missed something that now seems obvious. We missed the fact that censorable, capturable worldwide information systems are — not surprisingly — censorable and capturable. And — again, not surprisingly — that at this point, these systems have been fully captured.

By who? Q-Anon? An evil cabal of evil people? Advertisers? Who cares? It doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that the web has been captured by people with incentives opposite to those of us all. The web has been captured by non-sheeple. It’s time for the sheeple to take back their own system.

The architectural decisions made in the 1990s and early 2000s were constrained by the capabilities of the hardware that was then available. Website rate limiting was born out of a necessity to protect web servers from overuse. Logging in to a website was born out of a necessity to do rate limiting. The first websites we ever used had no concept of “logging in.” Privacy invasion was a natural, unintended consequence of logging in. Only retroactively does this seem obvious.

The world doesn’t have to be that way…

Since that time — 25 years ago — the capabilities of computer hardware advanced by 10 orders of magnitude. The software stack — consisting of web servers and user-based web clients — has not changed at all. Except for the fact that it’s gotten more and more invasive. The massive gains in computer hardware capability have gone almost exclusively toward deeper and deeper privacy invasion. Not surprisingly — the evil cabal of evil people own the machines.

It is our belief that the advent of distributed blockchain software (such as Bitcoin), which allows any user to see anything they want to see, was a first example of a system that takes advantage of the 10 orders of magnitude increase in hardware capability on behalf of the sheeple. Blockchains pull back power from the massive worldwide information and privacy invasion machine known as the Internet…supposedly…

TrueBlocks is an attempt to show by example that indexing and searching this already decentralized data may also be fully decentralized. We believe that the only reason existing blockchain data access systems (such as EtherScan, Covalent, QuickNode, Dune, and The Graph — all of which are based on old-fashioned client-server architectures) exist is that people are lazy. People don’t yet realize that it is possible to avoid web-based API architectures. They don’t yet understand that it is possible to build a system that is not capturable and protects privacy as opposed to invading it.

We’ve tried to show in this document that if indexing were part of the node’s processing and if the indexing natively produced data ready to be distributed through a content-addressable data store such as IPFS, the cost of publishing the same would be negligible, particularly if the system automatically invites end users to share in the burden of carrying the data. TrueBlocks accomplishes this through the two related processes of “pinning by default” and creating a “naturally sharded and shared chunked index.”

We look forward to continuing our work and expanding our (and your) understanding of this new paradigm. Help us by contributing to our repos and/or donating to our GitCoin grant (see below).

Hopefully, this time we can all build a worldwide information system that doesn’t suck.

Our Future?

Support Our Work

TrueBlocks is funded from our own personal funds and grants from The Ethereum Foundation (2018), Consensys (2019), Moloch DAO (2021), Filecoin/IPFS (2021), our GitCoin donors, and, of course, The Ethereum Foundation (2022).

If you like this article and wish to support our work, please donate to our GitCoin grant https://gitcoin.co/grants/184/trueblocks. Even small amounts have a big impact.

If you’d rather, feel free to send ETH or any other token to us directly at trueblocks.eth or 0xf503017d7baf7fbc0fff7492b751025c6a78179b.



Thomas Jay Rush

Blockchain Enthusiast, Founder TrueBlocks, LLC and Philadelphia Ethereum Meetup, MS Computer Science UPenn