Originally published June 17th, 2022 on mirror.xyz
When it comes to the NFTs, we at Cake know they are the future of how customers will interact with brands whether it be consumer brands or the individual brands of artists and creatives. The newest adopters of the blockchain world are just starting their introduction to NFTs, and we are at a time where the adoption timelines of the blockchain technology are only getting shorter. The common question today, “What is an NFT?” doesn’t begin to address the power customers will soon have when interacting with organizations/companies– let alone lead into how the term “customer” will transition into a new definition of ownership. In order to understand what NFTs are, we need to look into “What can NFTs become in our society when they are fully adopted?” In this part one of a four-part series we will look into the history of technological adoption of the blockchain, the very technology that paves the way forward for NFTs.
Throughout history technology has always made itself available prior to fully develop use-cases that make sense to humans. The printing press for example likely began in the 12th century in eastern civilization with woodblock type before Gutenberg industrialized a press of his own with metal blocking in the 15th century. It took roughly 300 years for the information of Gutenberg to proliferate throughout western civilization for printing presses to become a staple for commerce and even then the products were difficult to consume by the public. A more contemporary example is the the internet’s origins. The internet was heavily funded by the Department of Defense in the 1960’s and it wasn’t until the 90’s that the internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) was utilized for communication for consumers. The most modern example of technology’s timeline of emergence to adoption is cloud computing, though it was referenced in mid 90’s by way of a using a ☁️ as an icon to denote that a Virtualized Private Network (VPN) was being utilized to access remote servers– it didn’t become accessible and affordable to a network of developers until AMZN pioneered the optimization of a serverless network which was began Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). As of 2006, developers actively utilized the scale of IaaS to deliver cloud applications to end-users and today we actively use it in the most simple of ways such as: not having to backup our documents and access then from any device by merely logging in.
In all examples above, the inventions took time to proliferate from outside the inner circle of technologists experimentation and development to the broader audience of humans that eventually become end-users. In each example, the time it took to organize around new technology and create use-cases that benefitted our organization and communication as a civilization became shorter and shorter:
We won’t bore you as this would be like talking about the metal block technology of Gutenberg’s press or the way packet transfers occur in the TCP/IP protocol. However there are some important timelines to understand to know where we are on the Blockchain’s adoption timeline.
It was conceptualized in 2008 and released in its first version (v.1) in 2009 by a person or team (we don’t know) named Satoshi Nakamoto. The blockchain was the infrastructure that produced an object. This object was referred to as bitcoin– an output of the program. The important part of this program wasn’t bitcoin itself but the properties of the infrastructure that was capable of producing it such as: decentralization, distributed, and consensus (the cryptographic piece where Cryptocurrencies get their name from). All of these concepts were designed to produce data in a transparent manner and insure it is unable to be modified (immutable).
The concept of blockchain is beautiful because it defeats scenarios when a centralized server or service is under attack or becomes compromised. It solves the problem of trust in a world of digital connectivity. Trust is something we combat daily with the internet as it exists today to ensure that the most effective way for us to communicate digitally is also safe and secure.
The only thing that was missing from this technology to allow early adopters to pioneer use-cases was the ability to build more applications on top of it, an ecosystem of applications that could take advantage of the design principles of the blockchain. A centralized example of this would be the iOS App Store that is the platform which all developers must use to run their applications on Apple’s iPhone.
In 2014 a new blockchain named Ethereum began its development, lead by Vitalik Buterin. This was an infrastructure separate and unique to Bitcoin, but directly inspired and based on the blockchain designs of the underlying technology that produced Bitcoin. There was just one striking difference– this blockchain was made for developers to build applications on top of it. Applications are created by way of using “Smart Contracts” and these Smart Contracts should be thought of as Applications from here forward.
The early adoption of the blockchain technology took 7 years (2009–2016). By 2016, Ethereum was used to create Smart Contracts that modeled existing financial use-cases (DeFi) by utilizing the output of the Ethereum blockchain which was called ether or ETH (Ξ).
By 2017, Ethereum allowed for the capability to provide financial opportunity using their currency (Ξ) for images, that is right, .jpegs, .pngs, .gifs and .TIFFs on the network and eventually standardizing what we know today as a NFT on its blockchain.
From the first NFT on the Ethereum blockchain in 2017 (CryptoPunks) to collections that became a cultural phenomenon that took over our mainstream media in 2021 (BoredApeYachtClub), the adoption timeline of blockchain technology has only gotten shorter and shorter and in Part 2 we will go over how NFTs begin to tell the promise of Web3.