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We don’t think much about this term these days, but in the early days of the web, it was a whole new space. Things had meaningful addresses, not unlike physical addresses. There were even references, aka links, that could connect places together. In a URL, the L stands for “location.” Everything had a place.
In physical space, everything is related to each other through referential space. Everything has a uniqueness and location with spatial orientation to everything else. Your cup is on your desk. Your pen is next to your cup. Your phone is in your pocket.
Time vs. space with the blockchain
Crypto has not taken up digital space before. Blockchains only validate WHEN something happened, not where it happens. Until now, in some sense, crypto has only existed in time. A blockchain is quite literally a timeline, a sequencing of verifiable events.
There are addresses in crypto, of course; addresses that relate to the public keys of the public-private key pairs you hold in your wallet. These relate to people, but they don’t relate much to each other.
Verifiable time and order for digital activities is a fairly recent phenomenon and is what makes blockchain so unique. It is an immutable, verifiable moment of activity like a transaction. Initially designed to make sure nobody could spend something they didn’t have, blockchains act as a timeline where everything provable has happened — perhaps similar to Loki’s Sacred Timeline in the Marvel Universe.
So if blockchain is “time,” how do we create a crypto “space”? And what could we do with crypto “spaces”?
Digital space: a home for crypto and NFTs
Companies like Decentraland have tried to incorporate digital space into blockchain, but it is a much different idea than a general crypto cyberspace. Decentraland is more focused on digital commerce and providing NFT-based real estate, not the overarching need for a true physical crypto space. The same is true for companies like Sandbox, which is more concerned about monetizing assets instead of building a true home on the internet for any kind of asset to live and relate to others.
If you think about space in Web2, everything has a URL. That URL acts as a location that has a potential relationship to every other URL, via links. In Web3, we are just beginning to see domains, like “.eth” domains, act as URLs. You can tie your crypto address to that domain and use, say, alice.eth instead of the standard hexadecimal “0x-” style address to receive funds. These domains will be like the beginnings of “space” to the blockchain’s “time.” With domain NFTs, you accumulate metadata from transactions that fill out the history of your domain.
Organizing your crypto space
But next will come the full URLs, the part after the “.com/” in Web2 or after “.eth/” in Web3. What this means is that you can start organizing crypto; you can start organizing NFTs and other tokens in this crypto space the same way you might organize things in a file store, or a database.
And you might store tokens and data at one “location” in the Web3 URL. You might model physical structures in such a way that every room could hold NFTs, just like a room in the physical world can hold objects. You could model just about anything in the 3D space we all live in, with verifiable time and history. This is something we are working on with some great use cases.
Of course, having crypto-enabled data organized like this also means that virtual realms can be much more truly decentralized.
Leonard Kish is cofounder of Cortex App.