Preserving acts of kindness for future generations.

A CivicTechYYC blockchain experiment

About the experiment

This experiment is an attempt to answer the question - how might we use blockchain technology to help preserve an existing dataset of volunteer deeds, long after the organization that created it (or the platform that hosted it) is gone?

A possible timeline

Technical approach

Proponents of blockchain technology speak at length about its decentralized, immutable qualities as a means to combat censorship, but we might also think of it as a means to combat atrophy and being forgotten.

Our goal is to make #3ThingsforCanada data as accessible as possible for as long as possible and as cheaply as possible. There are a bunch of approaches we might take, each with advantages and trade-offs.

As a starting point we're targeting the storage layer of the Ethereum Blockchain called 'The Swarm' (Update: actually we don't know what we're targeting yet), and using it to store the self-contained folder of HTML, CSS, Javascript, and one very special .CSV file that you see before you.

As a result, this web page is will not be hosted on a traditional web server but rather a series of decentralized nodes that also host and run Ethereum Smart Contracts. That's why the address of this page may will seem a little strange.

Uploading to Swarm seemed like a reasonable balance between cost and longevity. Sure we could put all of the data directly into an Ethereum Smart contract but we learned that the cost associated with this would be enormous - the most expensive data storage on the planet, by far. This is changing though, as new developments emerge on an almost hourly basis.

See it in action

Here it is - the #3ThingsforCanada data as obtained from Twitter (unfortunately Facebook doesn't play nice with this kind of thing). The entire dataset has been included, sorted on a (hidden) column flagging 'actual' good deeds as opposed to shout-outs, promotions, and the like. A few additional columns have been hidden for legibility. Browse below or download the entire dataset as a .csv file.

Members of our group have used this file to perform text and sentiment analyses, which yield some interesting insights about the 3ThingsforCanada initiative. Who knows what else people might do with this data in the future?