There are currently two extremely hyped up technologies that have experts fervently proclaiming how the they are going to change everything from education to international governance.
One is VR and the other is blockchain, or distributed ledger technology.
Blockchains are essentially decentralised networks that are both publicly verifiable and unchangeable. When a transaction is registered on a blockchain, it is registered across all computers in the network and cannot be retroactively altered.
Proponents of blockchain technology believe it is more secure, more democratic and more efficient than other ways of storing data.
And now Decentraland, has combined VR and blockchain to create a virtual space for people to “create, experience, and monetize VR content and applications”.
What is decentraland?
The company describes itself as providing “an infrastructure to support a shared virtual world, also known as a metaverse”.
The project is made up of a “decentralized ledger for land ownership, a protocol for describing the content of each land parcel, and a peer-to-peer network for user interactions.”
The main commodity on offer here is virtual land, ownership of which is logged on the decentralised ledger. Blockchain is often promoted as creating ‘trustless consensus’ whereby the reliability of the system is what provides trust, rather than the relationship of individual users.
Once a person buys land in the VR metaverse, they are free to do whatever they like with it. This is where decentralisation really becomes a key factor: with the virtual world not being run by a corporation on its own servers and infrastructure, the rules of the world cannot be changed retroactively to suit economic interests.
The company is going to initially sell land to users, but they plan is to then step back and no longer play the role of intermediaries between user transactions.
Users have already started building virtual theatres, casinos and museums, none of which have been checked by Decentraland’s creators.
How does it work in practice?
The virtual world runs of the MANA cryotocurrency, which is used, or ‘burned’, to purchase land.
Users can use a secondary market built in partenership with district0x to sell land, receive MANA and buy new plots.
There will initially be enough MANA to buy around 2 million plots of land, but this will increase by around 8% a year.
There are currently three ways for users to get MANA. Firstly, the Community Vision Program is making 700,000 tokens available for people that contribute thoughtful ideas to the project’s Slack and Telegram channels.
Secondly, there is a token sale that is due to begin on 8 August, after which the network will begin running a Continuous Token Sale that will look to provide the 8% year-on-year growth.