Ethscriptions… is this the next big thing in NFT-related land?

Well, they could be, as they’re already creating some buzz. Firstly, though – what the fungible are they?

Like Ordinals on the Bitcoin blockchain, Ethscriptions are dubbed as a new form of non-fungible token or “digital artifact” – an “inscription” on the Ethereum blockchain, in this instance using transactional data.

This new take on a relatively new phenomenon has been turning a few heads across the Crypto Twitterverse this weekend.

Late last week, in a Twitter Spaces event, Tom Lehman, co-founder of a popular podcast called Capsule 21 and co-founder of music website, revealed that Ethscriptions (including a collection called “Ethereum Punks”) are created on Ethereum through transactions with unique data URIs. “Duplicate content is ignored,” Lehman noted and “all valid mimetypes are supported.”

Lehman uses the Twitter pseudonym “Middlemarch”, see tweets below, and has declared the technology a “huge success” so far, noting that almost 30,000 Ethscriptions had been created within the first 18 hours of the protocol going live.

So, what does all this mean, really, and why, if you’re already into NFTs, should you care about Ethscriptions? According to Lehman, the technology enables a “cheaper” and more decentralised minting process compared with the smart-contract-based technology currently employed on Ethereum and Solana and other NFT-using blockchains.

And as Lehman wrote in this tweet in response to a Decrypt article:

“One of the big things that makes Ethscriptions (like Ordinals) special is that it is a protocol that avoids expensive contract storage and execution without centralization.

“This is because every Ethscriptions user, including me, has the same knowledge and power: we all know the protocol’s rules, and we can all trustlessly apply them by reading and writing to Ethereum.

“Today, the Ethscriptions Protocol consists of only two rules: 1) Any successful Ethereum transaction whose input data (when interpreted as UTF-8) is a valid data URI creates an Ethscription, provided the data URI is unique. 2) Any Ethereum transaction whose input data is the transaction hash of a valid Ethscription is a valid Ethscription Transfer, provided the transaction sender is the Ethscription’s owner.”

Lehman also noted that the project’s launch brought so much attention and user activity that the official Ethscriptions website temporarily crashed.

Users can “inscribe” any type of file as an Ethscription, as long as it is under 96 kilobytes in size. According to Lehman, the tech only allows for images for now, but he expects that to change and expand.

Time will tell if Ethscriptions take off in the way Ordinals have this year for the Bitcoin network. Watch this space, as we suspect we’ll be hearing a bit more about them from various sources shortly.

Part of the buzz around Ordinals, however (which Ethscriptions may be unlikely to replicate), has been to do with their notoriety within Bitcoin circles. Some BTC holders and users love the innovation around Ordinals, while others believe the Bitcoin network was not designed to be clogged up with anything other than the simple narratives of transfer of currency and store of value.