Blockchain: the Underpinning of a New Internet Age
WASHINGTON — The vast majority of people just started wrapping their heads around cryptocurrencies as they were stuck at home during the pandemic, and Bitcoin — the first cryptocurrency, created in 2009 — struck an all-time high of over $68,000 last November.
Now, the value has decreased and is hovering around $21,000 with the latest stock market tumble.
The foundation of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is blockchain technology — an open-source ledger that shows real-time changes and transactions to information. Blockchain is the underpinning of what internet enthusiasts are calling “Web3.”
Its predecessor, Web2, was all about centralized information — as social media and search engines took off that information was stored on companies’ large data servers. With the advent of blockchain technology, the internet is moving towards decentralization, giving ownership of data to individuals.
The most exciting and visible part of moving to this technology for many Web3 advocates is the financial growth and prospects in cryptocurrency.
With blockchain technology expanding, people have the opportunity to take “more ownership and control of their information,” said Elissa Maercklein, a Web3 advocate and CEO of Crypto Chicks, during a Zoom interview.
“Privacy is a big concern. The fact that these huge tech companies own all of everyone’s individual data is crazy and it is being stored on data servers that are completely controlled by big tech companies,” Maercklein said. “And one of the big value props of Web3 beyond the crypto and the financial perspective of it is this democratization of data and how data is stored on the internet where it’s spread across all these computers spread all around the world.”
Blockchain technology enables that decentralization because “blockchain is just the world’s longest receipt that’s visible to everyone of every transaction made,” said Madeline Lieber, the COO of Crypto Chicks, during the same Zoom interview..
Maercklein and Lieber help run the online community that currently has about 5,000 members who have bought a Crypto Chick NFT, also called a non-fungible token. Buying into that online community gives people — primarily women — access to classes about Web3 including blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies and the metaverse while also inviting them to the community’s metaverse events and exclusive merchandise.
NFTs are typically associated with a digital image, but they don’t necessarily have to take that format, Lieber said. Every NFT is essentially a manila folder of information or value stored on the blockchain that cannot be changed or altered without those changes being documented to the world, she said.
For typical internet users, Web3 will not generally change how they browse online, instead, it’s the “plumbing” behind the websites that will change, Lieber said.
“I think that’s what people really need to kind of start coming around to, is the fact that this doesn’t mean that you’re shifting your entire usage pattern or anything about the way you interact with the internet right now. It’s strictly just how the internet itself is based, filled and interacts,” Lieber said.
While blockchain is still very new and uses for its technology are still being developed, there are lots of economic opportunities for people across the globe to participate in it, building this next era of the internet from the ground up.
Crypto Chicks and other organizations like Blockchain Council are working to help people access educational opportunities so they can get jobs and participate in this new digital economy.
Pradeep Aswal, CEO of Blockchain Council, worked with other blockchain enthusiasts to create a series of classes and certifications for people. Businesses are likely to move toward this technology because it’s easier to scale, he said in a recent Zoom interview.
“One of the biggest achievements of decentralization is it gives the power in the hands of the developers or whoever is running the project so that dependency on a third party is completely removed,” Aswal said. “You are able to scale and manage your volume transaction with the touch of a button.”
That is especially important as companies push into the metaverse where people can virtually interact and own property, which expands to a global audience, Aswal said.
Maercklein agreed, explaining that with Crypto Chick’s upcoming collection, she’d be able to wear a dress to an event and have her metaverse avatar wear that to a digital afterparty.
“There are a lot of people in our community … from all around the world, and so the metaverse component of it makes it more accessible and inclusive for people to attend events and have these experiences together,” Maercklein said. “We’re excited about tying together the physical real world with the metaverse world.”
Madeline can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @ByMaddieHughes
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