August 12, 2019

Edge Cases: The Metanet Blog


Part 1 — Introduction

Read the full post and the rest of the series on the nChain Medium account here.

Welcome to the Metanet blog series. Over the course of the coming months, I’ll be delving into some of the finer details of the Metanet, the Metanet protocol, and Bitcoin itself.

The posts in the series will initially lay out the foundations for a deep understanding of the Metanet, and the Metanet protocol, by elaborating on materials that are already available and diving deeper into the rationale behind them.

Hopefully I will be able to provide some insights that aid the general understanding of the Metanet protocol in the community and help to crystallise all of its fundamental concepts.

We will then transition into a discussion of the Metanet ecosystem, seeking to answer the questions:

  • Where are we now?
  • How did we get here?
  • Where do we go next?

In the process, we will broadly cover the events following the original announcement of the Metanet as a concept, by Dr Craig Wright, at the CoinGeek Week conference around nine months ago.

We will explore how the development spawned by the Metanet has impacted the ecosystem, and how it has evolved over time to reflect the new paradigms the Metanet brings for the Internet and data.

In particular, we will look at how the recent public disclosure of technical details of the Metanet protocol has impacted development and the role it has to play in the coming years.

In the latter stages of the series, we will look to the future and begin to broach more explorative concepts. The ideas presented here will seek to extend on the basic building blocks that the Metanet protocol provides, taking them further to accommodate more involved and integrated use cases and applications.

It is in these posts where I will aim to answer many of the questions about the Metanet that have landed at my door already, and where I hope to inspire further thought and creativity in the burgeoning developer community already building on Bitcoin SV.

But for the first post, I would like to give a brief non-technical introduction to both the series and the Metanet itself. It seems sensible, then, to start by asking a rather fundamental question.

What is the Metanet?

This question has two answers, depending on exactly what we want to talk about: the Metanet or the Metanet protocol. The vast majority of the series will concern the Metanet protocol, which is a protocol for structuring the on-chain Internet and realising the over-arching mission of the Metanet.

Let us take the time here, then, to consider what exactly the Metanet is as a concept. There is surely no better place to start in answering this question than to read the words of its chief inventor, Dr Craig Wright.

The Internet becomes a sidechain to the Bitcoin blockchain. The Metanet is a value network — the entire global system of online activity and data connected commercially.

— Dr Craig Wright, CoinGeek Week (2018)

I would like to draw your attention to the phrase value network’ in particular here. It may well be the most succinct description of what the Metanet is as an idea, a concept, and a mission.

The Metanet represents a complete and utter redefinition of the paradigms that pervade the existing Internet infrastructure — particularly with respect to human interactions and the value we ascribe to them.

The Cost of Information

It barely needs to be said that the issues that plague the modern ecosystem of the world wide web are myriad. I’m sure the reader does not need to be told of such problems, yet it would be remiss of me not to at least mention a few of them explicitly:

  • Lack of data ownership for users
  • Abuse of ‘free’ platforms
  • Distractions and ‘clickbait’
  • Monetisation difficulties for content creators
  • Trolling and click farming
  • Data redundancies

We could spend many hours discussing the precise reasons why the same issues, amongst many others, have proliferated to cultivate a hostile and problematic online environment. But rather than do so, I would posit instead, as many others have before, that there is a primary driver behind most if not all of the issues.

Learn more about the Metanet, and read the full post and the rest of the series on the nChain Medium account here.