April 10, 2020

What is digital asset ownership?

On Friday the Tari community discussed the meaning of digital asset ownership, what does it mean to own something that is digital in nature. Some highlights below.

  • There are cases where an individual will own the physical item but not the software that runs in it, this has created conflict over the “right to repair”.
  • People want to own digital assets without having the current hassles of blockchain interaction (i.e. paying for transaction fees), blockchain abstraction seems to be the trend. Providing security and provable scarcity in a seamless UX.
  • What is the edge between digital asset and physical asset ownership?
  • People enjoy the concept of “portability” how one owns their asset independently of the game or world it was designed in, the asset lives on even if no one plays the game anymore.

Please feel free to keep the conversation going by joining the discussion thread on Telegram or #Tari on Freenode.

Transcript of Friday discussion

Please note that unlike Telegram or IRC, Reddit threads are a living document. This is a snapshot taken 01:00:00 UTC Tuesday, April 14, 2020.

lsquared, [10.04.20 07:09]
Tari discussion in several hours. 

Please join us to share your thoughts on digital ownership and anything related to Tari. (16:00 UTC, 9:00 PDT, 18:00 SADT).

Yevhenii Kurtov, [10.04.20 07:10]
[In reply to Riccardo Spagni]
Interesting. How user will get their keys? Will they need to start by installing Tari wallet app?

Riccardo Spagni, [10.04.20 07:11]
[In reply to Yevhenii Kurtov]
If the vendor / issuer creates an app why wouldn’t the keys live in there?

Yevhenii Kurtov, [10.04.20 07:49]
does this mean that security-wise users will have to rely on issuer's bona fides by default?

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 08:02]
[In reply to Yevhenii Kurtov]
just like anything else in the world, one has to trust the producer of creator of a thing. This doesn't have to due with security per say, but it certainly has to do with values, and integrity. IE if creator says that an asset will be scarce in X dimension, and they lie, they shouldn't be trusted going forward

Yevhenii Kurtov, [10.04.20 08:04]
Understood. I'm more concerned about asset forfeiture when issuer will command an app to transfer them to a his vault for example

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 08:08]
[In reply to Yevhenii Kurtov]
There are many ways for someone to be a bad actor. For example someone could create an asset that works in a particular way, and then create a new version of that same asset and demand that users pay or perform some action to get the new version. Ultimately a protocol cannot change the trust paradigm between users and creators. Creators that are bad actors shouldn't be supported by users.

Yevhenii Kurtov, [10.04.20 08:10]
ideally - yes 🙂 
it's also interesting how far marketing can go  - can "own your collectibles" be a strong selling point or not?

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 08:20]
[In reply to Yevhenii Kurtov]
The goal is for the protocol to eventually enable ownership of digital assets. Just like in the real world, if you buy something to own from a someone with low integrity, it doesnt matter if you own it. Eg. if you buy a poorly made physical product, does it matter that you own it? Or if you buy a physical product, and the social contract changes around the physical product, how would the user feel? In other words, there is the goal for the Tari protocol to one day support digital asset issuance, and ownership. And then there is the future trust paradigm between the digital asset issuer and the collector or purchaser of said asset.

Yevhenii Kurtov, [10.04.20 08:30]
ok, ok. I think we are getting to the core here, bear with me please :)) 

let's look at a scenario when issuer decided to flip the table by coming up with unreasonable rules and decisions.
will users be able to migrate their collectibles to another platform?

Yevhenii Kurtov, [10.04.20 08:30]
I'm really trying to understand what "ownership" means in Tari world.

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 08:40]
there is the concept of an issuer, and then there is the concept of the tool one uses to manage your private keys / assets. The goal here isn't to create a world where an issuer can change ownership of keys of a given user. The goal is to create a world where how a user manages their keys is their business. A world where an issuer can change the rules for how the asset works outside of ownership of it. If they are low integrity this could mean reducing access. For example if owning the asset previously gave you access to some other kind of content controlled by the issuer, the issuer could one day eliminate access. Or perhaps if they want to surprise and delight and enable new kind of access with the asset the user owns.

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:05]
Hello folks

lsquared, [10.04.20 09:05]
These days ownership seems like an abstract concept. I've always thought that the world was trending to no longer owning anything

lsquared, [10.04.20 09:06]
In a SaaS like future

lsquared, [10.04.20 09:06]
But then again, SaaS is merely owning a digital license to access a product

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:06]
I think ownership is really about security. A don't tread on me mentality. It doesnt matter how the rules of the game change. I'm in possession of the ball

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:06]
And then I can decide what to do with said ball

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:07]
pass it on to heirs. Give it to a friend. Sit on it till the end of time

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:08]
In a digital context, I think this is a super cool idea to explore. There is a spectrum here though. One can own the asset. The issuer can change what you can do with said asset in the world they control on a centralized basis.

lsquared, [10.04.20 09:08]
Digital assets is a very broad space. Not sure why I keep on jumping back to "right to repair" topics

lsquared, [10.04.20 09:09]
Where someone "own" the physical car, but doesn't have the ability to modify it's software

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:09]
right to repair is interesting. You could imagine a world where users who own an asset are up in arms because the asset issuer changed some access condition

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:10]
yah the ownership of physical object combined with software license thing is super weird

lsquared, [10.04.20 09:10]
It's a buy product of making devices smarter and smarter.

lsquared, [10.04.20 09:10]
Wait til your smart lock decides to lock you out of your house

lsquared, [10.04.20 09:11]
because you forgot to pay the annual subscription :)

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:11]
you certainly don't get the source code. And often times the software included is an amalgamation of a wide range of stuff. Some of it is open source. Some of it is closed source. The combination of it all is certainly closed source / proprietary

Robin Rath, [10.04.20 09:11]
yeah, lots of cases where that happened. The one about Jibo was fascinating as the robot was designed to be a partner of sorts. https://techcrunch.com/2019/03/04/the-lonely-death-of-jibo-the-social-robot/

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:12]
yah perhaps the right thing to do in that case would have been for them to open source the server software so a user group could spring up to run it

lsquared, [10.04.20 09:12]
Perhaps we should be pushing for digital assets that are not subscription based. Where ownership is absolute and not conditional on some ongoing payment

lsquared, [10.04.20 09:13]
OR perhaps subscriptions are native for digital assets as controls can be revoked easily (assuming it was programmed beforehand)

Robin Rath, [10.04.20 09:13]
yeah, I think digital assets vs. digital licenses to things that are updated is still a necessary distinction

lsquared, [10.04.20 09:14]
True what I discussed above is a digital license... I guess the benefit of digital licenses on a blockchain is that the rules are more transparent

lsquared, [10.04.20 09:14]
but digital assets > digital licenses in terms of interest for me at least

Robin Rath, [10.04.20 09:14]
and transferrable, yep

Jak, [10.04.20 09:20]
Could you please give an update on Big Neon? How is the traction going with that?

coinspeed, [10.04.20 09:27]
Damn, I got in late..
Is a Tari based privacy stable coin feasible?

lsquared, [10.04.20 09:30]
[In reply to coinspeed]
Yes, we are still working out the specs for enabling privacy on the digital asset network layer

coinspeed, [10.04.20 09:30]
[In reply to lsquared]
Cool. How far are you from an MVP?

lsquared, [10.04.20 09:31]
The layer 2 is still in research phase. However you can play around with the base layer now.

lsquared, [10.04.20 09:32]
For example create Mimblewimble transactions

lsquared, [10.04.20 09:32]
Which are private

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:33]
[In reply to Jak]
The live music industry has shut down largely for the time being. Big Neon is live, and kicking, but there are no events to sell tickets to right now

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:33]
Tickets are a really cool example of a digital asset

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:34]
I personally think that live entertainment will come back at some point in the future. When that happens, an open source ticketing system like Big Neon may be useful. Especially when in future, those tickets could be issued on something like Tari

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:35]
Who knows if that will be in 6 months, 12 months, 24 months or more, but eventually, I think it comes back

lsquared, [10.04.20 09:35]
Fortunately digital assets can be used for more than just ticketing

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:36]
so many possible things

Philip Haslam, [10.04.20 09:36]
You guys rock. Love the goal you guys are going after!

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:39]
[In reply to Philip Haslam]

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:39]
long way to go for this kind of thing to exist, and for it to be super useful

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:39]
one day hopefully soon

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 09:42]
is anyone seeing other cool things in this space out there? What interesting things are people working on?

Philip Haslam, [10.04.20 09:47]
[In reply to Naveen Jain]
We're busy working on a crypto project for Zimbabwe. ZIMBOCASH. Launching in the next few days.

Robin Rath, [10.04.20 09:48]
Nice, what is launching?

Richard Nava, [10.04.20 09:50]
After playing blockchain based games like Gods Unchained, Relentless, Axie Infinity, along with digital ownership apps like Quidd and Topps, its difficult to truly feel a connection/owner to the asset. 

For Quidd, its really just an art gallery. I “own” a 3D Render of a limited edition Pop! Figure, but its nowhere near as satisfying as owning it in a physical space. 

The other blockchain based games were difficult to connect with mostly because the games werent exciting and the lack of a mobile app experience. 

PokemonGo is the closet to feeling ive had to a true ownership of a digital collectible asset.

Philip Haslam, [10.04.20 09:52]
[In reply to Robin Rath]
Creating the token and listing on two exchanges.

Alfred, [10.04.20 09:52]
[In reply to Richard Nava]
it's just that the game mostly sucks

Richard Nava, [10.04.20 09:53]
👆🏾 exactly. Mostly Hearthstone clones

Alfred, [10.04.20 09:53]
gods unchained suck and there's no real community playing it

Alfred, [10.04.20 09:53]
otherwise I'd love owning my digital cards

Richard Nava, [10.04.20 09:54]
👆🏾As would I! Its why I bought in initially, but trailed off back to Magic and Star Wars: Destiny (RIP)

Richard Nava, [10.04.20 09:54]
[In reply to Alfred]
Finally discovered how to use the reply feature

Richard Nava, [10.04.20 09:56]
Digital collectible apps like Quidd and Topps capitalize on the addictiveness of opening packs. Gross (but effective)

Alfred, [10.04.20 09:58]
I don't think it's gross, I regularly sink decent amounts of money in various games where you don't even have ownership of your stuff other than your in game account (which is most of the time illegal to resell on the secondary market)

So having real ownership of my stuff is actually a net positive for me no matter what. The problem right now I think is that the UI builts around these games/collectible apps are plain awful and make it so that only very small niche of people can use them

Alfred, [10.04.20 09:59]
like why tf do I need a metamask wallet or w/e to even start going with your game

Alfred, [10.04.20 09:59]
tokens should be abstracted way more

Robin Rath, [10.04.20 10:00]
so you are mainly challenged by the UI of getting started and buying, or are you also talking about the UI of organizing collectibles/assets?

Alfred, [10.04.20 10:01]
Once "blockchain games" stop selling themselves as blockchain games and jsut as games

Alfred, [10.04.20 10:01]
it'll be a lot better

Alfred, [10.04.20 10:01]
the design I'd love is the following :

Alfred, [10.04.20 10:02]
I'd love to be able to buy with bitcoin/credit card/paypal w/e like I can do in any other game, and don't need to even own a wallet to get started.
Because owning a wallet to get started creates additional friction.

I need a wallet only if I decide to truly take ownership of my stuff.. in the meantime the game company should act as custody wallet

Richard Nava, [10.04.20 10:02]
[In reply to Robin Rath]
Most of the reviews for Topps and Panini apps echo this. Terrible UI. I believe this is why Quidd is the top digital collectible app on the store

Richard Nava, [10.04.20 10:03]
Quidd's UI is quite beautiful

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 10:03]
Quidd is dead. Sold to Animoco for pennies on the dollar

Richard Nava, [10.04.20 10:05]
Right. And I can understand why. 3D renders of Pop Figure arent as cool as the one on my desk

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 10:06]
Thats a perceptional thing. If its a static 3D thing, sure. If its dynamic in a manner using location, weather or some other dynamic data set. Or just pure entropy it could be cooler then anything on ones desk.

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 10:06]
I also think it comes down to life experience and context. Kids seem to be a lot more interested and excited about purely digital experiences becuase they start there

Alfred, [10.04.20 10:07]
Purely digital also opens up whole lot of other possibilities than physical

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 10:08]
if someone as an individual is really into collecting Funkos then they may not have interest in other things whether they be physical or digital

Alfred, [10.04.20 10:08]
The ecosystem and integration  as well as interoperability for these stuff just isn't developed enough

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 10:08]
and thats fine. Thats a matter of personal preference

Robin Rath, [10.04.20 10:08]
What kids are doing on zoom (quick changing the virtual backgrounds, which is basically digital asset sharing) is interesting. Of course I've seen it happening on work calls too.

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 10:08]
personally I think there is a world of possibility around purely digital assets that are dynamic, connected and interoperable

Richard Nava, [10.04.20 10:08]
[In reply to Naveen Jain]
Good point. My cousins want nothing but v-bucks or steam cards.

Alfred, [10.04.20 10:09]
yea interoperability is key

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 10:09]
that is super fun and interesting

Richard Nava, [10.04.20 10:09]
[In reply to Naveen Jain]
completely agree

Alfred, [10.04.20 10:09]
gods unchained somehow did something in this direction

Alfred, [10.04.20 10:09]
you could have some cryptokitties featured in their game

Alfred, [10.04.20 10:10]
displayed on the side of your board

Richard Nava, [10.04.20 10:12]
Destiny did something similar this. Players were given access to limited edition merch by completing in-game achievements. Resulted in a longer than average ingame time

Alfred, [10.04.20 10:15]
About Tari btw, will there be the requirement to own Tari native token in order to transact the tokens?

Naveen Jain, [10.04.20 10:34]
requirement to own. What do you mean by requirement?

Alfred, [10.04.20 10:37]
Do I need tari in order to transact tokens

Alfred, [10.04.20 10:37]
like I need ETH to transfer an ERC token

A F, [10.04.20 10:49]
Why would apps use Tari? can't they make their own digital assets which people pay for with Monero

Max, [10.04.20 11:35]
Where is the edge between digital asset ownership and physical asset ownership? E.g. if that is a digital key which gives a right to stay in a house or drive that car.

lsquared, [10.04.20 14:04]
[In reply to Max]
First do you actually own something? Or is it own by a bank or someone else?

Max, [10.04.20 14:43]
[In reply to lsquared]
Ownership might be a temporary thing. If I bought holiday ticket and there is hotel room, I think that I own it for that time of a stay.

Naveen Jain, [11.04.20 08:11]
[In reply to Alfred]
An intent is for Tari to be the basic economic unit of the Tari network and ecosystem. Clearly this doesn't exist yet, but that is a goal. Tari as a basic economic unit is intended to be a privancy enhancing (via MW) digital currency. Its not intended to be viewed as gas like ETH.

Naveen Jain, [11.04.20 08:12]
[In reply to A F]
In order for the whole system to work there needs to be a basic economic unit that is native to the system. Thats what enables rules to be validated etc. etc. A goal is to make it as easy as possible for users to move between Tari and XMR

midipoet, [11.04.20 08:13]
Privancy by TARI: putting the fancy in your privacy

midipoet, [11.04.20 08:13]
btw I expect royalties if that ever gets used. ;-)

Naveen Jain, [11.04.20 08:14]
[In reply to Max]
the challenge with viewing digital assets as a proxy for physical ownership is the human factor. Someone needs to be trusted along the path. This is why the reference design apps that Tari Labs is working on tend to focus on natively digital assets. In other words assets that are born digital with no intended physical manifestation.

Naveen Jain, [11.04.20 08:15]
[In reply to midipoet]

Naveen Jain, [11.04.20 08:15]
royalties paid in testnet Tari? 🙂

Alfred, [11.04.20 08:17]
[In reply to Naveen Jain]
Ok, so to send my transfer my token to someone else I don't need any Tari in my wallet ?

midipoet, [11.04.20 08:17]
Sure, whatever. I am easy

Naveen Jain, [11.04.20 08:18]
[In reply to Alfred]
There will be likely need to be some sort of transaction fee that is denominated in the BEU of the network (Tari). Otherwise how are merge miners or validator nodes compensated?

Alfred, [11.04.20 08:24]
[In reply to Naveen Jain]
That's what I thought too.
This seem to me, to be one the biggest hurdle for adoption NTFs.
As long as you keep using only custodial services then the need for Tari can be abstracted away from the user. 
But can we realistically ask them to have to care about getting some cryptocurrency when all they want to do is playing their favorite card game?
Is this issue tackled, or what steps can we take to make it as abstract and frictionless for users as possible, the ideal scenario being that they never need to know anything about Tari to use tari-based tokens

Naveen Jain, [11.04.20 08:34]
[In reply to Alfred]
This is a really great point. Its something I personally think about a lot. I couldn't agree with you more. Why would a user want to go through the trouble of getting a digital currency to participate in a card game? There are a few perspectives here:
- If its a generic card game, then I don't think people will want to jump through hoops to participate. This is why I think its critical for a system like Tari to really support the needs of creators people already care about. What does a company with rich IP care about? From my experience, they care about making revenue in new ways, and enabling new ways to engage with consumers. This is where the concept of setting rules around digital assets becomes an important idea to consider. When I first started working in the music business, I saw how passionate people are for music they love. People get tattoos for artists they love. They wait in line for hours to try to get tickets, even though the show is sold out. They buy the merchandise, VIP packages etc. etc. They jump through hoops as needed because they care so deeply for the underlying art. It clearly must make a meaningful impact in their daily lives. How can a system like Tari engage with creators who make this kind of valuable stuff? In my view, that is a key idea to getting folks to engage with Tari as a digital currency on a broader level.
- How can this be viewed as a progression? There is no doubt that people will want to use whatever medium of exchange they are most comfortable with out of the gate. Perhaps over time then there are ways to lead them down the road of using something like Tari. Perhaps its starts with exclusive things that can only be purchased with Tari as a precursor to a fully Tari enabled world.
- There is no question that the UX of apps that make use of Tari has to be incredible. It has to be as easy as possible for people to engage with digital assets issued on Tari. And you are right, there needs to be obfuscation of as many blockchain bits as possible from the user. Few users care about what kind of database is powering a system. This seems to be one of the rare industries that tries to market the database to all constituents when only a few constituents care.

Alfred, [11.04.20 08:43]
Yea your last point is what I'd like to see out of anything coming out of a token platform that will be successful in real life.
Stop selling yourself as a blockchain based game. Abstract that away from user up to a point they don't even know what they are using and only then you will be able to get massive success.
Requiring a crypto wallet (usually metamask for ETH based thing which are the most commons) to get started is a big no-no, when that step could be abstracted and only giving the option for your user to create one later-on as opt-in when they really need it. What user want is using his debit card/paypal and be done with it, maybe in 50 years there will be crypto-native people.

I suggest you read about "meta transactions" which is what Origin did to remove some of the hurdles for their ETH based token which I think is one step in the correct direction (although I don't think this applies to Tari) : https://medium.com/originprotocol/driving-user-adoption-with-meta-transactions-3539aa6c5ae3

Alfred, [11.04.20 08:55]
tl;dr: they basically pay for/enable some entities to pay for their user gas costs, so they don't have to worry about it

Naveen Jain, [11.04.20 09:07]
[In reply to Alfred]
Yes something like this idea is something that has been discussed I believe by folks in the Tari community. I am not positive, but it sounds familiar. Bottom line is this: there are a number of interactions that I personally consider to be less then user friendly in a game like this. I know there are folks who are thinking about these various interactions and creative ways to improve them. I don't think there are silver bullets here, but I think there is a possibility of apps that interface with a system like Tari that have far better overall user experiences then apps that interface with other similarly distributed systems.

Naveen Jain, [11.04.20 09:08]
Hopefully whenever the testnet launches and a reference wallet app drops, some of the ideas that I've heard about from folks will come to light. Fingers crossed.

Alfred, [11.04.20 09:09]
Good thing !
I'm a huge NFT enthusiast so I have good hopes to see a platform who can successfully tackles these issues :)

Naveen Jain, [11.04.20 09:10]
you and me both. I am really really excited about a truly easier to use NFT system (both for creators and users), AND a digital currency project that is able to take advantage of such a thing to become more mainstream and "default"

Naveen Jain, [11.04.20 09:10]
In my opinion, that could really be a next generation type project in this space

Naveen Jain, [11.04.20 09:11]
Maybe Tari will one day be such a system. I also personally think that default privacy is a critical element both for creators, and users.

Alfred, [11.04.20 09:16]
[In reply to Naveen Jain]
You don't want everyone to be able to peek into your $100k magic the gathering collection ahah.

NFTs are the future of collectibles there's no doubt for me about that and it's a huge and diverse market.

midipoet, [11.04.20 09:58]
[In reply to Alfred]
Personally, I reckon there will be a huge backlash against digital in ~20 years. You want to be holding those analogs about when that happens.

midipoet, [11.04.20 09:59]
I reckon digital will become a byword for inauthentic.

Alfred, [11.04.20 10:00]
[In reply to midipoet]
How would there be a backlash when there's barely a market for it yet ?

midipoet, [11.04.20 10:01]
Not necessarily a backlash against NFTs. A backlash against digitalism in general.

Alfred, [11.04.20 10:02]
no way ^^'

Robin Rath, [11.04.20 10:08]
Yeah. I don’t see how a backlash against digitalism is even possible. How would that manifest itself? People refusing to use digital stuff to get their news, entertainment, and now more than ever even their food?

Robin Rath, [11.04.20 10:09]
No midi music? ;)

Max, [11.04.20 12:06]
Airbnb recently launched online experiences service.. that's essentially a service selling calendar slots of experience creators, and they listed by centralized likes-based rating system. I think that in such world of remote experience, creators would get competitive benefit with decentralization at least being able to better target

Jeff W, [11.04.20 13:35]
How mucb did Tari raise from VCs?

Jeff W, [11.04.20 13:36]
Will it have sufficient runway to complete everything in this new macroeconomic environment?

Naveen Jain, [11.04.20 15:08]
[In reply to Max]
super interesting idea!

Naveen Jain, [11.04.20 15:09]
[In reply to Jeff W]
the current macroeconomic environment is concerning on all fronts. Thankfully Tari Labs is well supported.