The Future of the Web: Can Blockchain Change the World?

Mar 15, 2022 | TIPS & TOOLS, PODCAST

In this episode of Digital Dames’ mar-tech podcast Conversion Path we focus on Web 3, specifically, the blockchain, cryptocurrency and NFTs and in this episode we are talking all about the future of the web.

 

Listen in to learn about:

  • Blockchain & Environmental Accountability
  • Supply Chain Accountability
  • Decentralized & Sustainable Resource Management
  • Next-gen sustainability monitoring, reporting and verification
  • The Web 1 era deeply damaged the music industry – but will Web 3 save it?
  • Positive aspects of NFTS and blockchain technology for artists, designers and creators
  • Use Cases For Blockchain & Crypto

    Listen to the Full Episode

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    See the full transcription of this week’s episode below.

    The Future of the Web

    J: Welcome to Conversion Path, a MarTech podcast about data, and growth, for your online and mobile business, by Digital Dames. We gather every week to talk about how to amplify your product, service, or message. I’m Jaclyn Hawtin.

    M: I’m Mani O’Brien. This month, we’re focusing on Web 3.0. Specifically, Blockchain, cryptocurrency, and NFTs. In this episode, we’re super excited to talk about the future of the web. We’re putting on our prediction hats today. Jaclyn and I have each chosen an industry that we think will be positively impacted by technology, and what we’re really excited to see in the future. So, Jaclyn, go ahead and kick off the conversation. Let’s talk about how the Blockchain can help solve some of the future environmental challenges that we’re facing today.

    J: Thanks, Mani. I want to start off the conversation with this really cool quote from Claudia Hart, who wrote a feminist manifesto of the Blockchain. She says, “Blockchains represent a dramatic shift in the way we make representations. They symbolize a certain way we think about art, and the ethics, and cultural value that we assign to it, and how we humans stand in relation to the material world.”

    M: So good!

    J: Powerful statement. And I think what is really pertinent here is the conversation about environmental challenges and humanity and the juxtaposition with the planet right now. Mama Earth is hurting. We’re simultaneously going through Coronavirus, and I feel like there’s a fundamental shift starting to happen here in human consciousness. This type of technology and these types of ideas can turn the world inside out. They change our relationship to the material world, the way that we perceive our relationship with reality is really powerful, and can empower us to respect the world around us in a more profound way. In a different way, in a way that we are not doing right now.

    M: Powerful. You brought up the topic of technological determinism.

    J: In grad school, we studied technological determinism. I’m not saying that Blockchain is going to change everything or that it is ‘the solution.’ Or just because it’s been created, all of our troubles are gone.

    There’s an interplay here between the technology, the application, and the humans behind it, the ones making decisions. I’m not saying Blockchain is going to save the world, but I am saying that it’s a powerful technology that can help us do some really, really amazing things in a much more efficient, effective, and more accountable way for the future of the environment.

    M: Let’s talk specifics, give us some examples, Jaclyn.

    J: One of the things that I think the Blockchain could help with is having transparency through supply chains. This could help consumers trace products from the source into the place where you actually buy it. This is already happening with some organizations. I know the World Wildlife Fund is doing a project where they’re helping track tuna.

    I know there is some illegal fisheries happening with the slave trade. They’re using the Blockchain to start planting the seeds for tracking, and hopefully, in the next 10 years, we’ll start seeing some real results for that, or even sooner.

    M: Tracking the source of your goods that you purchase all the way to the store level is incredible. Patagonia has been a really innovative leader in sustainable fashion. They allow you to see transparency in their full supply chain. To your point with technology, it’s a lot more traceable and transparent, and actually trackable, it’s just built into the way that Blockchain is built, and so you can really trust it. You’re not just relying on Patagonia to be very honest about its vendors, and the true source of the data. It’s not only less labor for them to report on, but it’s actually verifiable information stored in the Blockchain.

    J: Patagonia is a really, really cool brand all around. And I’m close to Patagonia here.

    M: Call us, Patagonia. We love you.

    J: Another example is decentralized and sustainable resource management. With this, we have an opportunity to clean and create more resource-efficient energy and water systems at scale. Blockchain platforms could collate distributed data on these resources. Things like household-level water or energy data collected with different kinds of IOT sensors. This would be a really big game-changer, because very often, people that are making the decisions about these systems are not getting the full picture. They’re only getting partial information and they would be able to make better decisions if we were actually tracking all the history of what’s going on with these systems. That could make a big impact. Water is a big topic right now.

    Something else that could be impacted is next-generation sustainability monitoring, reporting, and verification. Blockchain could help to transform sustainability reporting and assurance, helping companies better manage and demonstrate, and improve overall performance. This is along the lines of what we’re talking about, enabling consumers and investors to make better-informed decisions.

    When we can automatically track and collect data, and manage it, for instance, data about greenhouse gasses or emissions coming from different companies, processing plants, or whatever they might be. Then we could track these and realize them through smart contracts in order to get real-time trustworthy data and minimize fraud in those areas. That could be really powerful.

    I think one of the things that is a limiting factor in terms of people’s ability to imagine the future is the IOT side of things. We’re just beginning to get into the era of sensors and sending massive amounts of information back into the system. Right now, we don’t really have tiny Nanobots flying around and collecting information in an invisible way, but in the future, we very likely will have that, and it will be done in a way where it’s not even an option for this information to be collected.

    We could create a world where it all happens automatically. Through the Blockchain, we have all of the information stored. It’s completely accountable and completely transparent. We, as consumers, have the opportunity to make informed decisions and make better decisions about our world.

    M: IOT is the Internet of Things—for the basics out there like me. Opportunity for people who are innovative, that are designers out there too, who can envision the visual application of the data that you’ve described. It’s like, who’s going to build the platform where a consumer goes and can actually check on the impact of their purchasing decisions, or what is the app that’s going to be built where you’re in a store, and you can get a grade scale on the sustainability green impact of your purchasing.

    J: What are your thoughts on how this might impact the future of the music industry, Mani?

    M: Let’s talk on the creative side. When I was really diving into Web 3.0, Blockchain, and NFTs, what perked my ears up first was NFTs as a starting point, and the application of NFTs. I just thought this was really interesting. My background being more in the arts and design and fashion world, my mind just started buzzing like crazy when it comes to the positive impact on artists and creators, particularly in the music industry.

    When I think about the beginning of the internet, I think about LimeWire and the way that we all immediately ripped off music and the poor music industry. The music industry was so negatively impacted by Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. I would say the first industry that the internet killed was the music industry. Before it killed Blockbuster, it killed music in many ways.

    J: Oh, Blockbuster. So many memories.

    M: I think when I heard about Web 3.0, I just thought, “Oh my gosh, there’s going to be some positive karmic retribution for the music industry, in that, in the Web 3.0 era, the music industry can really be redeemed here.” Let me explain why. It’s just the basic function of the way files can be minted, or certified as verifiably owned by an artist. It just presents a whole world of contracts and traceability of one’s work.

    A music file is simply a file. Imagine it being uploaded to the Blockchain and shared and consumed and distributed across the web as it is now, except that the artist has full visibility into all the ways that their music is consumed. Whether it’s applied to a video that’s uploaded or shared in a viral Tic-Tok video, or listened to on their website, used across television platforms, etc. their file could be traced across the Blockchain.

    It gives a lot more power to artists to create smart contracts between their agents and their music labels. As well as the distributors and the Spotifys of the world. To think about these things, to have full transparency into their artistry and the application of such, and then to be able to be paid appropriately.

    It also allows consumers more control over where their money goes. For example, many of us are members of Spotify, now we pay $9.99 a month, or what have you, we have access to this massive library, granted there are hundreds of millions of us on Spotify. What if as a consumer with a $9.99 membership, you own a certain number of Spotify, let’s say tokens, that you can apply to your favorite artists. You have control over who you support, or as an artist you can grant special privileges to your biggest listeners, and they can invest in you as an artist through cryptocurrency.

    The possibilities are endless. Basically, the NFTs and the Blockchain make ownership traceable and monetizable. Something else that’s interesting to me is this idea that ownership of artwork is traceable as it passes the hands of various owners. If you think about an Andy Warhol painting and the first painting he ever sold, the monetary compensation that Andy Warhol got ends after that first customer. And then that person moves on to sell it, and it becomes more and more valuable over time, and it’s not like the Warhol estate is continuing to make money from every action. In the Blockchain world, smart contracts allow for the artists to always be compensated for every time their file is shared.

    J: I wonder how that’s going to impact art collectors in the future. Because if their original artist, or whoever, let’s say it’s 200 years in the future, probably the family of the artist or whatever will inherit that original ownership. There would be no collectors in the same way that they exist today because that value isn’t going to be there.

    M: Well, maybe. I would argue that there continues to be just one original copy of the artwork that you’re purchasing.

    J: I guess it’ll get cheaper.

    M: Maybe. It’s hard to say and predict how everything will transpire, but let’s say today you own an Andy Warhol, and it’s an original, and you do digitize it, and there’s a photo of the artwork that you own physically, and you own the digital representation, you could display the Andy Warhol piece in your Metaverse art exhibit, or on your Metaverse house.

    And you can say like, oh, people can screenshot this picture of the Andy Warhol thing and have it in their house, but it’s the same as counterfeit art. People know who owns the original, and the people who own the original have more swag, so to speak. You’re going to want to be the owner of the original artwork.

    J: Just to make sure I’m understanding this correctly. So, you’re Andy Warhol, and you create this original, and you own the license to it on the Blockchain, and then you die, then the family could sell that original license to a collector. It’s the same type of thing, but like you own the digital asset, and probably the physical piece as well, or whatever it might be. It’s not really going to change.

    M: A lot of that is not going to change. Although here’s where it gets really kind of weird, is that, let’s say you own the Andy Warhol, and you own the digital copy of the Andy Warhol. Jaclyn Hawtin is now the owner of this piece. You can also in essence, dice up shares of your NFT of this piece, and distribute it to a thousand people, and everyone owns a little tiny piece of the Andy Warhol piece. It gets kind of wild, like…

    J: I do remember reading that, and thinking, “why would I want to do that?”

    M: Yes.

    J: I’m not sure about that one.

    M: Wild application. Before I circle back to the music industry, another real use example that I was thinking about is, fashion brands that have ripped off the work of small indie artists who share their patterns on Instagram. I know of a very large international company who mentored fashion students at a fashion college, very well-known as well. It was part of a program where the fashion brand is mentoring fashion students, and the students are designing on behalf of the brand, and it is part of their college program.

    Well, the fashion brand went on to actually create and distribute one of the designs that the students made, with absolutely no credit to that fashion student and no payment made. Which I find to be completely unethical, even though they’re part of the tuition program. Just imagine a world in which that student, her digital files are minted as a tech pack, which is common in the fashion industry, you can’t produce this. I guess the brand could have reproduced it. In the future, she could mint her digital file, her design files, and then it would be baked into the actual goods themselves, using the methods you described.

    J: You know, that is so common, not just in the fashion industry, but in the entrepreneurial world, a lot of corporations, heavy hitters will go in and watch the pitches, and then a few years later, the students see their ideas brought to fruition, which happened to me. I will not name any names on this episode.

    M: Back to the music industry, just one more example I was talking about earlier is musicians and their music on social media platforms. We were just talking about how if you have a business profile on Instagram, and you’re trying to create a reel, you don’t necessarily get access to all the cool top 40s music, and which in all fairness, that makes sense.

    We, as businesses, haven’t paid for the licensing rights to use say Celine Dion. And Celine Dion is trending right now on Tik Tok in a reel. But, if we’re signed into her personal profiles, we can use Celine Dion in the reels. I was just thinking about this concept of licensing rights, and thought, “You know what? That’s a little shady, if you think about this usage from Instagram, from a monetary perspective.”

    This is a situation in which Instagram has made available top 40 music artists to individuals, who then create their own artistry out of that music. So, I’m creating a video, I’m using Celine Dion’s music, but at one point she created that music and that’s her intellectual property.

    Then I’m creating a new piece of art, and remixing it and putting it out on my Instagram, and I’m an individual, so I’m not paying Celine anything. What I’m doing as an individual is drawing my friends onto the platform. I’m bringing you Jaclyn, and you’re seeing my content. Basically, at the end of the day, Instagram is not paying for the licensing rights to Celine’s work, and Instagram is not paying me as the creator to create video. But they’re really capitalizing on the fact that I’ve brought Jaclyn here, and Instagram is profiting from the eyeballs on the platform. Never having paid any artists anything.

    J: Yes, stop profiting from the eyeballs, Instagram.

    M: It’s really not a great situation. To give an example too of how technology of the Web 2.0 world is not necessarily serving musicians. If you think back to the early days of YouTube, you’ll recall, it’s such a free for all. We all used all sorts of music, and now that’s been stamped down by algorithms, so if I try to upload a video today with unlicensed music, then I’m not even going to get published on YouTube.

    But imagine a world in which, that basically has created a situation where like, “maybe everyone loves this Celine Dion trend, and they want to use that music in their videos.” Celine Dion wants that music to be consumed. Consumers want to hear the music. If it could just be properly credited and compensated to Celine and her circle, then that would really be the more ideal situation, not an algorithm that tampers down the consumption of music. But one that probably will allow Celine Dion to be credited and paid.

    I just find the possibility is really endless in the Blockchain era. I think that type of model is really going to transform, and you’re going to cut out a lot of middlemen. There are still going to be platforms where we all meet as communities. And there’s going to be platforms where we all meet to consume music, but I just think the relationship is going to change, and there’s going to be…

    If I was a distribution company right now, or if I was an agent of an artist, I would be concerned about this. I would be thinking about smart contracts, and how I’m going to be compensated in the future, knowing that artists have a lot more direct connection to their fans. It’s a good time for artists, that’s all I’ll say.

    J: Yeah, it’s very exciting. Definitely, the new world. Put the payments where the value is generated, not the corporate mongers.

    M: Powerful. And never before in all of human history has this been possible, for the certificate of authentication to follow artists’ work. It’s an exciting time. Thanks for listening to my soapbox speech about social media music consumption.

    J: Oh, I love it, I love it.

    M: My goodness. Well, I guess that’s all the time we have for today, unless there’s anything else you want to add, Jaclyn?

    J: Nope, that’s it. That’s it for today, thanks.

    M: Thank you for listening. In the meantime, please keep up with Digital Dames, where on the web at www.digitaldames.io. You can find us across social media, username @digitaldames on Instagram, Tic-Tok and LinkedIn.

    Please leave us a review. We’d love to hear from you. Subscribe to us on Apple, Spotify, and wherever you listen to podcasts. And if you have additional questions, feedback, and if you’d like to share your ideas for future podcasts episodes, shoot us an email, we are [email protected]. Thanks so much. Thanks Jaclyn.

    J: Thank you!

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    Post Contributors

    Jaclyn Hawtin

    Jaclyn Hawtin

    Senior Data Architect

    Over a decade of experience in product management, devops, startups, and agile methodologies. Track record of simplifying complex technical processes for cross-functional teams. Proficient in user centered design, UX, IX, UI, IA, user research and data analytics for responsive web, mobile and tablet applications. Incredibly adaptable, fluent with both people and machines.

    Mani O'Brien

    Mani O'Brien

    Conversion optimization manager

    Mani is a senior marketing manager with roots in storytelling. She nerds out on everything data, technology, human behavior and design. Chat with her about UX/UI, marketing funnels, conversion and goal tracking, marketing experimentation and astrology (she’s a Virgo Sun, Aries Rising).

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