The internet evolved and was integrated into our lives relatively slowly as compared to the speed with which blockchain has entered our vernacular. Invented in the 1960s as a way for institutions, namely government organizations and higher education, to share information, it wasn’t until January 1, 1983, that those separate computers were connected to a singular network. The birth of the internet in 1983 did not lead to an immediate boom. In fact, it was over 10 years later when the dot-com bubble took form.
Blockchain, whose foundations were laid by Scott Stornetta and Stuart Haber in the 1990s with their work on time-stamping digital documents through hash functions, came into its own in 2009 with the launch of Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin ledger. Within 10 years, 5,000 alternative blockchains have been created, many with numerous applications beyond peer-to-peer electronic cash exchange. Smart contracts, dApps, and NFTs are just a few examples of the potential that blockchain technology offers us in this brave new world of decentralized exchange of value and ownership.
And amazingly, even with a relatively small community of people who utilize and, dare I say, understand this emerging technology, blockchain has been able to evolve at a dazzling pace. The obstacle now is welcoming those crypto natives, as well as the wider pool of digital natives, into the metaverse. “The actual player base of these games is incredibly small,” said Matt Schapiro, “and it won’t be until people like us bring new people in that I think it really starts taking it to the next level.”
And what might that next level look like? Imagine an event taking place in your neighborhood. You can get up, get dressed, and mingle in the way you always have, enjoying the entertainment and chatting with your friends, both in person and, let’s be honest, via text. Now imagine that you invite those friends you’ve been texting to that same event with a url, and, because of the metaverse, they can join you virtually, enjoying the same entertainment and the same social experience, even though they live hundreds of miles away. Now imagine that the event hosts start airdropping NFTs into your digital wallet, sharing layer-two, or l2 wearables that you can put on your avatars, and posting QR codes that allow physical patrons to see a webpage on their phones, the same webpage that pops up on the virtual patrons’ computer screens. Maybe you buy a $20 t-shirt from the merch stand, and for an additional $5 you get a dad hat for your virtual self.