The primary purpose of Superchain’s use of technology is to ensure that the works in every Bloc can be stored and verified forever. While most technology has a destructive and shredding effect on art and culture, Superchain is constructed to promote and preserve it.
To achieve this, Superchain takes concepts from “high” technology – blockchains, networks – and applies them in a “low tech” way. This is an intentional design choice. Wherever possible, the technologies used are secure, stable, and above all: time-tested. More recent concepts made feasible by blockchain – immutability, serially numbered hashing, and permanence through distribution of a consensus record – are used without any necessary dependence on public blockchains that have had short existences in a historical sense.
Because Superchain Blocs are files, they can continue to be created and distributed even in the event of a catastrophic failure of e.g. the internet or a blockchain. While such events may seem unlikely, we must expect some catastrophic failure on an infinite timeline. For this reason, the security of the works must be paramount.
With the integrity of Superchain and the works in every Bloc secured, additional functionality can be added using separate systems. Those developed so far are Bloc ownership (with tokens on the Ethereum network) and ownership of physical pieces (to come in January 2022). Additional functionality is in development, including dividend payments to owners of certain Blocs.
This discussion provides a brief technical overview of Superchain and may be updated to reflect common questions.
The Superchain Whitepaper outlines the original technical vision for Superchain and why this is important from the perspective of art and culture. Read it here:
Related: What Is A Bloc?
The Bloc File is the source of truth for the Superchain record and for the contents of any given Bloc. It contains an index file, an unlimited number of “element” folders, an “includes” folder for attachments and information about the creator(s), and a hashfile.
The file itself is a folder compressed into a zip file, and all the necessary information is stored as txt files and commonly used, time-tested formats.
The index file provides the number, date, and title of the Bloc. It also lists the number of elements and included files, and contains a hash of the hashfile inside the Bloc. It is designed to be human and machine readable. An index file looks like this:
# Bloc Title Goes Here ## Number > 123 ## Date > YYYY.MM.DD ## Elements >1 ## Includes >1 ## Hashfile > 3e10e10artyc6c7d3704394c888b4eb3a58e842
This is PGP signed with the Superchain key and saved as index.txt in every Bloc file. If index.txt not signed with the key, the Bloc file is fraudulent.
Elements are numbered folders that contain the substance of the Bloc. Every Bloc has at least one element, numbered “1”. The number of elements is unlimited.
Every Bloc must contain at least one media file and one text file. These can be arranged however desired between elements. Within an element, files are deposited and numbered in the order they should be presented, as for example:
-Bloc File.zip --1 ---001.png ---002.txt
Where items are not numbered in the file (e.g. 喜98), the numbered items are presented in the place they are numbered for and the other items are presented in alphabetical order.
Text is stored as txt files to ensure maximum compatibility. Wherever possible, non-proprietary file formats and technologies are used.
Within the element, the artist can include as much content as they like and choose the order it is presented in.
The includes folder does not need to contain anything, but is used for attachments. Customarily, a Bloc will have at least 1 include, artists.txt:
-Bloc File --includes ---artists.txt
This is a simple place to include the creators of the Bloc. Other attachments may include additional work or formats, such as the Superchain Whitepaper Bloc 喜887.
Includes are bonuses found only in the Bloc file and are not typically included in the display of a Bloc in other places.
hashfile.txt contains the hash of every previous Bloc in the chain. It looks like this:
0: 000000000019d6689c085ae165831e934ff763ae46a2a6c172b3f1b60a8ce26f, 1: 3c503aa8228beb3203ba9e226a7cba870e7296f2, 2: f12981017bdaacf866d049ffad9c8a3ae50bd095, ...
The 0 value is the value of the Bitcoin Genesis Block, included as an homage to Satoshi Nakamoto. The 1 value is the checksum of the Bloc file for 喜1 “The Genesis Bloc”. 2 is for 喜2 and every Bloc’s hashfile contains the hash values listed out for every previous Bloc in the Superchain. The checksum of the Bloc’s hashfile is included in the index file and signed with the Superchain PGP key.
Because every Bloc verifies the contents of every previous Bloc, Superchain is strengthened with every new Bloc added to the chain. The record of what constitutes Superchain extends every day, and the number of replications of the hash table does so too. As Superchain Blocs are distributed, the record grows longer and longer. The more widely distributed the Superchain record, the greater the difficulty of changing anything in the record without creating a fatal split in the chain.
Superchain signs every Bloc with its PGP key, one new addition per day, and distributes the Blocs.
The Superchain record is independent of any network, but nonetheless strengthened in its security the more networks it is on. Superchain achieves permanence of its record by widely replicating and distributing it, increasing the cost to the Superchain key holder of making a retroactive change to the point that it would be fatal to the viability of the chain.
Bloc files are viewable in an easy way on Superchain’s website, and can be downloaded for higher- resolution files, to save, or out of interest. Blocs are uploaded onto IPFS in addition to having their hash replicated in every new Bloc, providing a second checksum value (the IPFS hash) and increasing distribution (peers on the IPFS network making a copy of this public record).
With the Superchain record widely distributed, the security of the works in the chain is guaranteed. With this elemental principle handled, extensions can be built using less time-tested technology.
Ownership tokens containing the Bloc hash and a cover image are available for purchase and trade. These are built on the Ethereum network and can be traded on OpenSea. Ownership has several benefits including ownership of physical pieces.
New avenues for Superchain distribution are being actively developed and will be released as Superchain progresses on its roadmap.