Last week we sat down with Darkblock CEO, Chris Seline, aka ‘Dad,’ to talk about the Darkblock protocol. Watch the full clip here or continue reading for the highlights!
Darkblock: Who are you and what do you do?
I’m just a guy. I live in Washington, DC. I’ve done a number of startups before, this is my fourth. They have mainly been in search technology, heavy stuff, analytics. My wife suggested I do a startup, but I didn’t have anything I was particularly passionate about. My cousin, Jeremy [also a founder at Darkblock], called me up in February of last year. He said ‘this NFT thing is blowing up…it’s not figured out yet. So go figure something out,’ and I said okay.
I looked at what was going on and started talking with friends…they’re like, ‘what do I get exactly when I buy an NFT?’ And I’m like, ‘you know, you own it.’ And they’re like, ‘yeah, but what do I get?’ And I was like, ‘huh … what do you get?’ Then I saw that Beeple was distributing physical displays when you bought an NFT. I questioned, ‘is that really the solution? You just send out these physical displays when you buy an NFT? What happens when you sell the NFT? Is that really what we want for our digital certificate of ownership?’
Then I had the idea of, in the case of art, maybe we could give the owner of the art access to it. That only the NFT owner could have access. I talked to Jeremy and he said ‘that’s it, let’s do it.’
Who is the target audience, whose problem are we trying to solve here?
We talk a lot about the creator economy at Darkblock and how it’s rapidly growing. We believe there are walls in place, put up by these big platforms that control the monetization and distribution of content. I saw one statistic that there are over 2 million professional content creators out there. So people that make a living just creating content. That’s a lot, but we think that number is just a drop in the bucket. Once you can start to control how you monetize your content more finely, you can develop interesting ways to engage with the community and make money off of a very small but hardcore community, which is almost impossible with these big platforms…we think that we can expand that creator economy to ten, maybe even a hundred times what it is today, where people can make a living doing the things they love.
Why did you decide that the end user was important or needed tools?
There’s a big UX problem when it comes to web3/crypto in general. It is very hard for the average person to wrap their mind around. It’s even hard for tech people to wrap their minds around. Using wallets, trying to move money around, it’s hard, scary, and weird. The UX is lagging quite a bit with the underlying platform technology. I think we need to make it easier for people that aren’t savvy to be able to consume this content.
That’s what everybody wants to do. They want to consume content. We’re not trying to cater to a web3 crowd. When you make content, you don’t care if you have a wallet or you have a ‘this’ or a ‘that,’ the people that want the content don’t want to go download a whole bunch of stuff.
We need to continually break down barriers to entry to own, consume, and monetize this content. That’s why we are working on enabling people to use Fiat to consume content, not just requiring a crypto wallet. We want to allow the owner or creator of a piece of content to say, ‘Here’s a piece of content, it’s 50 cents or whatever to view it.’ It could be a movie, a song, whatever it is, we want to enable them to spread it out to a non crypto-native audience.
What is Protocol V1 all about?
To be upfront with everybody, V1 is powered by our servers today, but we are working towards full decentralization. Once we think it is secure enough, we will let anybody power this thing. But the way it stands today, we run the servers. We store the data in Arweave, which is a decentralized, file-based, blockchain system that we are big fans of. The data is encrypted, so not just anybody can go look at it. The way it works is that our network of nodes issue encryption keys. AES-256 is what we use today, which is the gold standard. That may change as we get a little more sophisticated, but today we use AES-256. You get one of these encryption keys, you encrypt a piece of content, and then you create an Arweave transaction out of this.
An Arweave transaction has two parts. It has metadata associated with it, so basically just key value pairs to tag that data, and then a payload for the data. So we place this encrypted file in Arweave and associate this metadata which has information about which key was used to encrypt the data…
(For more on the nitty gritty of V1 and V2, enter the live video here.)
When does this become commonplace? Will my kids watch Star Wars in a Darkblock?
Star Wars, that’s gonna be a stretch. It’s gonna be a while before Disney really gets on board with this, but we’re already working with a partner that wants to be the next Netflix of indie movies.
I think we will be watching movies and darkblocks or something similar in the next three or four years, and you won’t even be thinking about it. You won’t say oh, I need to go get a darkblock or I need to get an NFT. It will simply be, ‘I want this content, I want to access it, it just happens to be underpinned by web3 technologies.’ It will be delivered to my TV, to my phone, or my desktop. I think in three or four years you’ll be able to experience that on a daily basis and you won’t even notice it. [Darkblock has already developed a TV app that allows people to decrypt and consume their NFTs’ unlockable content from their smart TVs. Download on Amazon Fire TV Stick here and Google Play here]
Anything else to add?
I’d say if you’re building around content, even if you’re doing it in web2, come talk with us. We’d love to hear what you’re building and see how we can help. We’re on this journey and we want to take it with people that share our ideals, but also we just need to understand the problems that people are facing around their content distribution. We want to build the right tools to solve them.
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