Ethscriptions launched in June 2023 as a new way to record data and create non-fungible token-like functionality on the Ethereum blockchain.
Rather than using a standalone smart contract as a means of documenting data in a way that is permanent and one-of-a-kind (that’s what a smart contract-based non-fungible token or NFT does), Ethscriptions record data to the blockchain in a more compact way.
Each Ethscription is minted by recording data to the calldata portion of a smart contract. Previously, calldata was kind of like notes or messages passed along with a smart contract transaction. But now, by using Ethscriptions, the calldata function can be used as a means of inscribing data to the Ethereum blockchain.
The goal, according to the project’s creator is to make recording data (or inscribing data) easier and more straightforward. At launch the Ethscription process only image files can be inscribed using the calldata function and the allowable file size is 96 kilobytes.
If this all sounds familiar its because the idea of Ethscriptions is very much a riff on the inscription process made possible by Bitcoin Ordinals. Ordinals were launched earlier in 2023 and have been somewhat controversial within the Bitcoin community.
On one hand, Ordinals allow for a new kind of NFT-like functionality on Bitcoin. On the other hand, as more and more people inscribe files to individual Satoshis, Bitcoin’s transaction fees have climbed dramatically. The resulting network congestion is raising questions about the best use of the Bitcoin network.
As Ethscriptions unfold and continue to develop, it will be interesting to see if the same kinds of issues emerge. After all, Ethereum already has the ability to create smart contracts and mint NFTs, so watching the Ethscription use case evolve will be interesting.