The Battle for the Decentralized Metaverse will be fought with NFTs, which are collectively ushering in Web 3.0.
NFTs are much more than digital pixels secured through cryptography. They are the building blocks of incipient virtual realms; they are time-stamped copyrights whereby The People will claim ownership of ideas, virtual spaces, sounds, music and art. Together, these building blocks are morphing into decentralized experiences that will make up our future screen and audio time. Thus, the battle for the decentralized Metaverse will be fought with NFTs: And a sovereign Web 3.0 is the prize. But before we dive in:
How can a compilation of pixels, sounds bits, and other digital prints revolutionize the current internet owned by Big Tech?
Centered around NFT projects are communities engaged in the vision’s of artists, musicians, developers and storytellers.
An NFT is access to the future direction of these creative projects. The Sandbox and Decentraland, for example, sell digital spaces, characters and objects to people–they are helping to create these virtual worlds. En masse, they form the foundation of digital, social and interactive experiences in 3D. The games our children have come to know, such as Minecraft, where gamers are able to engage through a character in a virtual world, is now becoming available in the context of everyday interactions with live people through the Metaverse.
In the decentralized Metaverse, an NFT could be a character to suit an expression of our choosing: A personalized avatar of sorts. Such a choice is only limited by our imagination. As we have already become accustomed to interacting with others in digital formats, such as texting, video, voice, etc., in the Metaverse we can experience the full spectrum of 3D realms through our avatars, this while we interact with others presenting themselves as an avatar of their own. We could fly, swim, traverse outer-space, and even go to work suited in our avatars… these worlds will be compelling.
The advent of the decentralized metaverse is happening now at a quickening pace. Yet there are dangers.
Big Tech is gunning to own the Metaverse; We the People must own it instead.
NFTs will only be as decentralized as the underlying networks they are built upon. Companies like Microsoft and Facebook, which is now known as Meta, and other Big Tech technocracies are highly centralized. They are racing to ensure that your eyes and ears cleave to the digital properties they own and create. Microsoft just announced that it bought Activision Blizzard, surely this purchase is a strategic play to dominate the Metaverse.
While we will not own the space in a centralized metaverse (Big Tech will), which is the stratagem of these technocracies; we can own the digital spaces in the decentralized metaverse, and the virtual NFTs will have a real estate value all of its own. Just like TV and radio stations sold airspace–so too will virtual spaces and experiences have a similar value structure, yet on a much grander scale. It is what our attention clings to that gives virtual entities their value; it is ultimately what your consciousness turns it attention toward that makes our experiences what they are.
Many of us spend tremendous amounts of time glued to screens, and highly centralized corporations vie for that attention. This fact is not going away, yet we do have the power to ensure that our screen time is sovereign by collectively owning the spaces that we engage in; rather than relinquishing our attention to profiteering corporations enriching themselves like they are now.
I brought up radio and TV ad models to help us make sense of how virtual spaces will operate in the decentralized Metaverse. These spaces will be even more valuable than physical spaces and sticky websites or web apps. A virtual space in the Metaverse can squeeze into it the eyeballs of many millions; yet a physical auditorium has only the capacity for a limited number of seats. Even a stadium cannot host the masses that a virtual space is able to. (Snoop Dog just bought land in the Sandbox likely to be used for virtual concerts). The key difference between air space in traditional radio, satellite and television, and the virtual reality space in the metaverse, is that in the metaverse you will be super immersed. Just like children may innocently believe actors are living inside the T.V., immersive metaverse experiences will more formidably trick our brains… these experiences will be orders of magnitude more lifelike, and fun.
Will Big Tech win? Or will the Metaverse be Decentralized?
As Big Tech strives to make the Metaverse its own in a centralized manner, blockchains are racing to create the same immersive experiences upon a decentralized, peer-to-peer foundation called the blockchain. But not all blockchains are created equal: Ethereum is where most of the NFT sales are taking place. And although Ethereum is better than Big Tech conglomerates owning the metaverse… Ethereum is not without its shortcomings. There is hope, however.
Cross-chain migration will offer NFT projects the ability to materialize on blockchains other than Ethereum. Optimistically, we have the power to create a future where only truly decentralized blockchains will survive. And People will choose decentralization over centralized counterparts. I would be remiss if I did not mention Qortal here, which is aiming to become the base layer of the decentralized internet. Qortal just rolled out data hosting, which includes web site hosting, and will even be able to accommodate a more versatile NFT-like format at some point in the future. Stacks is another example of blockchain technology enabling NFTs. Stacks is built upon the Bitcoin blockchain, and enables smart contracts. NFTs on the Stacks network are therefore within the Bitcoin ecosystem and are more decentralized than Ethereum based NFTs. We are at the nascent beginnings of a new error in Web 3.0: The decentralized metaverse with NFTs as its building blocks is tantamount to the formation of this new internet.
This ability for NFTs to migrate to the most decentralized blockchains is imperative. In fact, the least decentralized blockchains will likely die out. It is the creative minds of the world that are spawning new ideas, tapping into the roots of our Being, solving problems and ushering in the future. For such creativity to be trapped upon networks that don’t uphold true decentralization standards will obstruct us from Web 3.0’s full potential.
Is the Battle for the decentralized Metaverse Inevitable?
When it comes to the Metaverse… it is inescapable. The world is online and is rapidly being integrated into the internet of things, internet connected devices are sowing the fabric of daily life. Just like we could not stop cars from replacing horses, we are not going to stop the creation of virtual worlds where people interact in 3D. But what we can do is ensure that it is decentralized; ensure our data doesn’t reside in the belly of Big Tech beasts.
Tech is approaching a singularity. Today’s internet is a convergence of the persistence of Moore’s and Metcalfe’s law: these both predict the continuance of higher computing power, the steady increase of broadband network capacity, and the exponential growth of social media. The gathering of these technologies into a simplified, immersive experience that looks and feels like our everyday reality will be more compelling than the best 4k televisions–this what the Metaverse aims to create.
Unfortunately, the Big Tech companies that have brought us the current iteration of the internet are hoarding our data and capitalizing on it.
We click, we watch, we consume information; and now they watch us watching, they gather information from us while we seek it, and Big Tech profiles and reconstructs a digital representation of ourselves for their own benefit. They examine our information, with supercomputers running AI; they know our digital habits better than we know them ourselves. We give them dominion through centralized technologies that we unknowingly have committed ourselves to: with every cookie tracker planted, with every 1,000 page policy agreement we authorized (and could can never possibly have time to read), we have succumbed to their reordering of the digital world in their favor. Our choices, our clicks, are extremely valuable information. The summation of this data is an avatar in and of itself, our digital soul imprinted into their database.
With centralized Big Tech owning this data—we give ourselves up to the invisible beast of authoritarian capitalism.
The ownership of attention and its impacts
Our attention matters: where we choose to rest our attention makes up much of who we are. When we give up our eye consciousness and our hearing consciousness to Big Tech, when we spend our time on their sticky apps and web sites, we are literally spending our time like money… because when we are online, they transform our time and attention into profit. Internet connected devices: web cams, smart speakers, smart televisions, smart watches, and of course our smart phones are two-way listening devices. They data stream of our activities is transformed, then bought and sold on the centralized Internet super-galaxy.
This is why blockchain technology and the metaverse must be decentralized and owned by us; it gives us a chance to take back our digital freedom from Big Tech.
Cloud computing is a giant storehouse of our metadata which is now owned by big tech. Cloud databases contain trillions of gathered terabytes, imprints of ourselves: recording our habits, feelings, and tendencies. Powerful computation by big tech sieves through this data with AI systems to optimize and manipulate our online actions—they plant the seedlings for future sales, even our political beliefs—too much screen time and we can fall victim to this technological beast, we lose sovereignty over our inner voices and reasoning; we bend toward powers that are using advanced manipulation techniques and algorithms to persuade us.
If the eyes are the windows to our soul, big tech is looking right into them. The profile they create on us is sold across the internet to companies benefiting from our information.
We are thus consumers being consumed; we reside inside the expanding bellies of Big Tech beasts. Like Jonah, we must escape from the leviathan’s abdomen and reclaim our sovereignty.
A centralized MetaVerse will be the culmination of Big Tech’s capitalization of our attention. As parents struggle now to keep their children away from too much screen time, the digital experiences enabled through the virtual, 3D enabled MetaVerse, will be orders of magnitude more addictive, which is why we must own it and control its future.
Decentralized blockchains and a decentralized metaverse will bring us the power to reign in that tech and have it owned by the people instead. Yes, NFTs will be akin digital ownership—NFTs provide a path forward to claim ownership of Web 3.0.
How can we ensure that Web 3.0 will be sovereign?
With blockchain technology, our data is able to be stored in our own digital wallets and protected with our private keys.
Now enter NFTs, which are the building blocks of the decentralized Metaverse, we can own time stamped, cryptographically secured, one-of-a-kind datum—which can take on many different forms. Think of NFTs like trading cards, but much, much more… as they are programmable, and are often part of a communal ecosystem, a community of people sharing in common goals.
I will give you a few examples:
Woodies, is an NFT project seeking to plant trees as part of its roadmap. They pledged to plant one million trees through the funds raised by the project and have attracted a community passionate about the environment, but it doesn’t end there. They bought land in Decentraland, where owners of the Woodies’ NFT will one day be able to gather and interact in a 3D format. There is an entire lore being built around Woodies’ NFTs by which storybooks, television shows, games, etc., could be developed…. the possibilities are endless! These illustrative characters are also a great way to teach your children about environmental kindness.
Another project to mention is Alpha Girls Club. Owning this NFT gives the community members access to a mental health app (under development), community support groups, and is even aiming to provide mental tele-health services to NFT holders. The focus of the community is female empowerment and support for women. There is no corporation behind these NFTs; buying the NFT is buying into a community rallying around a cause. And just like anything else that is community driven, the overall success of the project will depend upon community engagement. It is democratized form of a community organization, where people have ownership in the community itself. (Note: there will be more on this in future articles when DAOs are discussed in detail).
We are in the very early stages of this transition, but I believe blockchains and a decentralized Metaverse will be essential to maintaining our sovereignty. Buying into NFTs is a pathway toward owning web 3.0. Big Tech is already strategizing on how to dominate and own our attention through the Metaverse. Facebook’s name-change to Meta and Microsoft purchase of Activision is a warning shot to everyone. There intentions to create and own the environment where our eyes and ears are compelled must be reckoned with. The world has become extremely digital… some work all day on a screen, then come home to stare into yet another screen, their television (while all day we glance at the screens on our smart phones). Before televisions and phones were “smart,” they were a one-way street. The Metaverse is the smart television’s and smart phone’s next advancement: we will plug ourselves into interactive, immersive 3-d experiences by strapping goggles and microphones onto our heads.
We must own the inevitable virtual worlds of the future… they cannot be centralized and on a side note, the time we and our children spend there must be managed (it’s not being managed very well now). Attention matters here. Instead of being enamored by Big Tech metaverse products and applications, explore some of the NFT projects and their roadmaps. Our attention is actually the best weapon in this fight for our sovereignty.
Truly decentralized blockchains, like Qortal, are the first step toward taking back our digital selves from Big Tech. Decentralized NFTs is the next step in this fight. With the Metaverse, it is not the technology that drives bad behaviors, it is how technology is used that matters the most. We cannot count on Big Tech to use this technology for humanity’s well-being. We must fight back by learning about, taking part in NFT communities, monitoring our online attention, and even buying into such communities that will make a difference.
Please note: NFTs are not without financial risk. This is unprotected and unregulated space. I have bought into both Woodies and Alpha Girls Club primarily because I am supportive of their causes. But their prices (and NFTs in general) are subject to extreme volatility with no guarantees for upside potential, especially in these nascent stages. It’s important to do your own research. Rug pulls, where the team that began a project disappears, is also a potential risk. Such schemes ran rampant during the ICO boom in 2017; however, since NFTs are generally community driven, the community itself can reclaim the future direction of an abandoned project with enough support. In this regard, regulation will actually aid NFT investors, as it will hold project leaders to be held accountable. Lastly, be sure to verify extensively that the NFT you are buying is definitely from the same project you’ve research–there are scams out there which direct message people and shill imposter NFTs that are not part of a real project.
To find out more about galaxy-warriors, check out their web site galaxy-eggs.com
For more information on NFTs, check our NFT section here.