Building My First Blockchain/Substrate Project

I think I have enough Rust and Blockchain knowledge to start getting my hands dirty with my first “serious” blockchain project.

I took a while back a basic bootcamp learning about the Ethereum ecosystem. I got introduced to basic cryptography in the context of DLTs, I learnt some Solidity then touched on multisigs in my capstone project. So, I think I get the idea of blockchain as a technology that is more relevant to systems where the primary concerns are: decentralisation, transparency and provable data integrity, immutability of records and community participation.

I always wanted to learn about the Substrate framework and it’s FRAME pallets. The premise is too shiny to be ignored: a framework to build blockchains fast! Since I started to learn a bit about Substrate, I wanted to build some kind of project on top of it, something that is small enough to be “doable” in less than two months, something that also has meaning and utility, and of course something that is challenging enough so it get’s me introduced the hard way to the Polkadot ecosystem.

It took me little time to find the project’s idea. It’s something I’ve wanted to build a while back (the web2 way) to solve my sisters problem. My sister is in academia, and they use some archaic methodologies coupled with useless software to detect plagiarism. So the idea is simple: a Decentralised Research Paper Repository (DRPR), a system that ensures the provenance, integrity, and verifiability of academic publications. This project addresses the need for transparent and tamper-proof academic records, fostering a more trustworthy and accessible knowledge base, all by better managing the storage, management, and verification of research papers using blockchain technology.

Is blockchain relevant here? Absolutely, and here’s why:

  1. Secure Storage: Utilising blockchain to store research papers in a tamper-proof manner.
  2. Provenance and Integrity: We need cryptographic proofs to verify the origin and integrity of research papers.
  3. Community Curation: Enabling a community-driven approach to curate and validate research papers.
  4. Incentive Mechanisms: Developing a token-based system to reward contributors and verifiers. Although, I see it now more of a project where universities are the “validators”, so no need really for incentives here, but still, I need to introduce this part to the system to learn more about tokenisation.

The idea behind working on such project is, if I manage to get it right (i.e. it compiles lol), it should introduce me to the majority of concepts I need to get right about Substrate development before calling myself a novice Substate developer.

Next up, as with all Web3 projects, I need to get myself a White or Yellow paper. I need to take some time thinking about the project key ideas and how it should be designed.

In the next blog post, I’ll publish the paper. Till then, happy coding!