All Media Onchain: Crypto as a Port of Entry

 

This post first appeared on Jesse’s blog and Warpcast.

 

My crypto journey started with a startup in 2014 (Mediachain)—we wanted to put all the world’s media onchain. What we believed then, I still believe now: onchain media allows media to simultaneously be abundant, distributed everywhere—and also valuable, with attribution for creators, provenance for collectors, and programmability for devs/machines. My prediction is that in the 2030s, it’ll be hard to imagine a world without all media onchain. 

I see two convergent paths to get there:

1/ “sign everything”
2/ decentralized social

 

“Sign everything”

Fred Wilson wrote a post with this title where he asks, “What do we do about this world we are living in where content can be created by machines and ascribed to us?” His answer: “Sign everything.” In a world increasingly awash in synthetic media, verifying authenticity and provenance is going to be increasingly important. It’s also a new path to monetization.

There are two shapes this can take:

  • Sign on publishing: Platforms like Zora and Paragraph/Mirror give creators tools to publish familiar media formats (JPG, TXT, GIF, MP4, etc) onchain. By doing so, creators gain new paths to monetize and ways to archive their work. Fred wrote about exactly this recently too.
  • Sign on creation: Increasingly, we are seeing hardware devices that sign data on creation. You can see this in crypto-native marketplaces like Hivemapper and DIMO, where map imagery and car data are signed at creation, on-device. Initiatives like C2PA.org are creating standards to have digital media signed on capture on devices like phones and cameras.

 

Decentralized social

A parallel path to make crypto the port of entry of all media is through decentralized social. Here there are a couple paths that start from different places but arrive at the same result.

  • Familiar social form factors: Protocols like Farcaster and Lens start with a familiar format where underlying content units, akin to Tweets, are signed. The presence of wallets and signatures makes users’ identity, money, and data composable to third-party devs, who are proliferating an ecosystem of mini-apps (Frames) and clients (e.g. Kiosk, Nook). This rapid experimentation can hopefully unlock new experiences that grow to rival the scale of web2 social, but with all the media onchain by default. 
  • Asset-first social: Another form of decentralized social is asset-first. I think the right way to look at a platform like Pump.fun is as a social network built around onchain media assets: memes (aka “memecoins”). These products lean into the scarcity of onchain assets to create net-new social experiences that are unfamiliar to non-crypto natives but are becoming increasingly mainstream.

So multiple paths are converging at crypto becoming the port of entry for all media. This is one of the things I’m most excited to see accelerate and invest in at Variant. 

 

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Variant is an investor in DIMO, Farcaster, Lens, Mirror, and Zora.