From nChain, a leader in proprietary blockchain research and development, comes what is being advertised as a ground-breaking project to decentralize the entire Internet through the Bitcoin blockchain. Using intellectual property it has created, nChain will develop what it’s calling the “Metanet” exclusively on Bitcoin SV (BSV), which reflects the original Bitcoin protocol whitepaper.
Metanet is the creation of self-proclaimed Bitcoin inventor and controversial nChain Chief Scientist Dr. Craig S. Wright, who announced the project during his keynote speech at the CoinGeek Week conference held in London. Dr. Wright explains:
“What we are going to actually create is a secure alternative to the Internet, built on the blockchain. 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.”
That’s a pretty bold vision, but despite all the hype surrounding Wright’s many public announcements on Metanet, the project’s GitHub has been *crickets* for months.
Wright hasn’t gone into detail on how he envisions creating his second internet, but given his statements on BSV transactions powering web pages, we can make some pretty accurate predictions on how it would play out.
Your Bitcoin wallet as a browser
Imagine your BSV wallet is not just a wallet, but a browser as well. Website administrators will upload their web pages to the blockchain, where the data is stored and encrypted. When you navigate to one of these pages, a BSV transaction decrypts the page, which unlocks content such as text and images. Another route would be to charge the user a nominal fee, equal to a few cents, which is then sent to the web page’s owner, and decrypts the page’s content. The latter would eliminate the need for display advertising, allowing users to pay content creators directly when they visit their web pages.
Domain names could similarly be purchased and registered on the blockchain, removing ICANN from the equation entirely. This isn’t new, several blockchain-powered domain registrars have been offering .bit and other self-owned domain extensions for awhile now. The main reason these blockchain domains haven’t seen widespread adoption is because they can’t be visited from a “normal” browser like Chrome or Safari. In much the same way, Metanet users would need their wallet browser to view web pages hosted by the blockchain.
In a recent interview with Decrypt, Wright clarified “It’s this big network of things that all connect—except now instead of being free, they charge in micropayments on the value of the data. So you now know what everything’s worth.” There we have it, the truth is Wright wants to commercialize website traffic through micropayments that reward content creators for views, clicks, comments…whatever.
In summary, Craig Wright wants to put a second internet on a forked fork of the Bitcoin blockchain, and charge fees for doing what we already do for free on the original internet. A decentralized World Wide Web and freedom from ICANN sounds great, but a wise reader should be hesitant to place their faith — or their Satoshis — in Wright’s vision.