Information wants to be free, but digital property will not be ”Nieman Journalism Lab


In 1997, a shrewd prediction would have been that in five or ten years every hairstylist, florist, and creative designer would have their own website. “This HTTP thing could have legs!” ”

Today, there’s a good chance the same can be said of crypto wallets and tokens.

When the web started, journalists lamented the truism that “information wants to be free”. What Web 3.0 represents is an Internet where private digital ownership is finally realized. Safe and secure property rights are the foundation of any thriving market, and if you want to connect to a global value transfer protocol, you’ll need a token and a wallet just like you would need to. ‘a website to connect to the global transfer of information. protocol that has defined the Internet until now.

What does this mean in the short term?

NFT to XYZ

Late in 2021, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution created NFTs to celebrate the Atlanta Braves’ World Series victory.

In addition to selling the digital rights to these collectible works of art, the owners of NFTs join a community. “Owning an AJC NFT is a great way to own a part of Atlanta culture. The AJC NFT team will provide both online and offline experiences to members of the AJC NFT community. Additionally, a portion of each AJC NFT offering will be donated to a community organization to help the Atlanta area grow and prosper. “

The experiences that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution could offer in the years to come are limitless, and each could both serve this community and serve as marketing to draw more people inside. Maybe they’ll organize a business cruise, a “local shop” day with discounts, or they’ll take over Truist Park on a lazy Sunday. In all of these scenarios, NFT holders not only have a piece of art / history, but a piece of a growing economic system, and the AJC is essentially a small money-issuing central bank.

Crypto is not going to go away and next year we can expect more media organizations to join the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to make their first foray into NFTs. The differentiators will be the events they are able to capitalize on (a World Series victory is a good thing) and the experiences or alternative value they can offer in tandem with “the art”. Owning an NFT isn’t just about having a digital playing card to look at. It’s a golden ticket to the economic system and experiences that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution can create. A thriving market will attract more participants and give them the chance to hit more NFTs.

NFTs are the fruit at hand, especially for news organizations at this time as the Web 3.0 market takes hold. But I don’t expect this to be the end of blockchain technology.

Are you downstairs with DAO? Yeah, you know me!

Elsewhere on the Internet in late 2021, a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) raised more than $ 40 million to bid on ownership of a physical copy of the U.S. Constitution up for auction. The “DAO Constitution” token holders would not have had fractional ownership of the Constitution, but rather voting rights over where it would have been housed, among other voting parameters. We’ve seen how social media storms can be used for good (Arab Spring) and bad (trolls), and in 2022 I think we’ll see this phenomenon become financialized. Now anyone can create their own GoFundMe. Here is a Twitter thread which develops this possible utopian / dystopian vision. Did you think the Twitter storms had consequences? Now we can have cash flow storms with smart contracts that take action on success.

This could mean that the next local media organization on its deathbed could be saved by a community in the form of a decentralized autonomous organization. Perhaps the DAO will include fractional ownership of the organization, or it could include voting rights on items spelled out in the DAO code. We have seen community media organizations die in 2021. Maybe next year a DAO could be a savior? This type of collective action raises more questions than it seems, just like Reddit when it launched.

Facebook loses the metaverse

Though he claims to be “Meta” persona, Facebook’s PR-inspired renaming won’t guarantee his success in the Metaverse.

For starters, there won’t be just one metaverse but many metaverse, and Meta (I’ll just call it Facebook from now on) is already late for the party. Or maybe I should say they’re overdue for “gaming,” with Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite already defining the virtual worlds experience for the next generation. It’s not just games either. Fortnite hosted a concert attended by 12.3 million simultaneous players. Add in payment platforms and these virtual worlds are ripe to leverage a networked digital property layer in a way that Facebook just isn’t.

Facebook, the big platform maker, will surely find a way to undermine these game companies, right? After all, it was by creating platforms that Facebook started! Alas, Facebook is also behind the 8-ball here. To create virtual worlds, people rely on virtual world engines like Unreal Engine, owned by Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite. Facebook itself relies on the Unity engine. When it comes to hardware, Sony (Playstation), Microsoft (Xbox, Minecraft) and others already have a bigger market share as well as years of experience in infrastructure and hardware production on Facebook.

This “decentralized” buzzword

As an industry, we have spent the last 10 years online running on closed platforms, often feeling like the carpet is being ripped from us. The audience has been aggregated and Facebook (or choose your walled garden) has placed itself at the center of commerce via an algorithm. Businesses had to advertise to communicate with customers.

But in the years to come, a clothing company will not be advertising on Facebook in order to market its product to users. Instead, they’ll create 3D versions of their new outfit and place them in all metaverse for users to interact with. They will work with content creators to market and possibly even sell unique digital copies of it, with smart contracts defining future royalty payments for resales.

A garden can be surrounded by a wall, but the coming metaverse will be a vast jungle, too big for a single company to control. Plus, with strong digital property rights, if you create, participate or interact then you will be at the center of the transaction, not Facebook’s algorithm. It could enable a new generation of “thousand blooming flowers” that we haven’t seen since the dawn of the social web. And this time if it is with success decentralized, then smaller local players like the AJC could finally have a head start on behemoths like Facebook.



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