I had to get in the car for a short drive last night, so I flipped on the radio to listen to along the way. It was set to our local PBS station, KQED, and since it was between 9 and 10pm, the BBC News Service feed was playing.
I wasn’t really listening to what was being said until I was out of the driveway and headed down the street. Then some very familiar words started flowing through my brain in charming English accents with precise BBC pronunciation. It was something about a virtual world and selling virtual plots of land and maybe businesses setting up shop and people visiting friends and having a virtual cup of tea and all the nonsense that was being passed around about virtual worlds more than a decade back.
My first thought was that they were playing an old track, some sort of “Remember when this was a thing?” segment featuring Second Life and how people were buying into that. I mean Reuters and CNN had “offices” there and people who got rich on speculation were making it to the covers of magazines.
But the whole thing sounded more recent. They were talking about the funding by selling plots in the Genesis content section of this world. We’ve certainly seen virtual real estate sold before. Then there was mention of the in game currency, called MANA, which you had to buy in order to get any of the plots. But we’ve been down that path before.
And then the surprising-yet-unsurprising twist hit, MANA was a cryptocurrency and used blockchain technology and I said aloud, “Nailed it!”
But it isn’t just the currency that uses blockchain, it is the whole world and all your virtual land deeds and whatever. I was back in the driveway before I was the story was through… honestly, I was only driving out to get a PokeStop because it was day seven of my streak and I wanted the big payout… so I sat in the driveway until they finally said the name of the place. Just to hit on the block chain theme in a big way it is called Decentraland.
So I went back in the house and started looking the whole thing up.
It doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry yet, which I am sad to say is my current method of assessing notability. If you aren’t there yet how can you make any claim to fame? But it does have its own web site and blog with an introduction to things and a FAQ.
Naturally, because it is 2018 and this is how things are, even though the developers are selling plots of land via their cryptocurrency, you cannot log in and visit your purchase yet, so add crowdfunding to the list of trends it is riding on.
Not that there isn’t a lot going on with Decentraland. Browsing through their site and reading articles about non-fungible tokens and what not indicates that much thought is going into the technology being used. However, technology isn’t a product and I didn’t see a thing that made me think that they had anything beyond the most basic ideas as to what people would eventually do with the place.
That is likely my native skepticism kicking in I am sure. As I said, I’ve heard a lot of their pitch before, and the fact that blockchain technology is part of the equation doesn’t sell me. But we shall see. I mostly wanted to write this to mark the point in time so I would come back and visit it again in a year and in five years and so on to see what develops.
Are you interested in some blockchain secured virtual real estate?