Web 3 101

The Fascinating World of Decentralized Digital Identity

Aug 09, 2021

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HOST:  Hey everybody and welcome back to the Unstoppable Podcast.  I’m your host, Diana Chen, and I’m here today with my co-host, Matthew Gould, co-founder and CEO of Unstoppable Domains and I’m super excited to have him back here with me today to talk all about digital identity and decentralized identity.

I think this is—has sort of become this catchphrase that everybody on the Internet is using this digital identity, but nobody really talks about what it actually means and so today, Matt is joining me to actually break down what digital identity means, what decentralized identity means.  So thank you so much, Matt, for being here.

MATTHEW GOULD:  Glad to be here and this is one of my favorite topics.

HOST:  Perfect, perfect.  So I think before we dive into decentralized identity or talking about any aspects of how identity will look in the future, we need to look to what identity has meant to us traditionally.  So when we think about identity traditionally, what are we actually talking about?  Like what aspects make up a person’s identity, what shapes are identity?  Let’s just set the stage here.

MATTHEW GOULD:  Yeah, so I think an important thing to realize about identity is that it bottoms up and your identity is composed of a lot of different pieces of your life and they come together and that’s what forms who you find—who you are.

And when people think about identity, probably the thing they think about instantly is like their driver’s license and that would be an example, something like your legal identity or maybe your social security number or date of birth or passport.

You also have identities across basically every social network that you interact with.  So you have your professional identity and that’s where you work or where you went to school for your education, your professional affiliations, your LinkedIn, your resume.

Then you also have, maybe your social identity, if you’re a big person on TikTok or Twitter or any other places there.  That’s your identity across these social platforms online.  Now, you may even have multiple different personalities across and I don’t mean that in a bad way, but you have multiple different ways that you talk about yourself on these social platforms.

For instance, my dog has an Instagram, right?  And so, I’m also posting as my dog in addition to myself, but that’s still like another component of who I am and then you have your—like, maybe your more personal identity.  Maybe this is your religious affiliation or, you know, your core values, things about yourself that you would want to keep a little bit more private.

And there’s a whole much of other things out there I didn’t touch on.  It can be anything from Chess Club, like you identify as that person who’s really good at chess, all the way, all the way to—like your favorite place to shop online, right, if you’re, if you’re a real big fan of some of these different brands that are out there.

So Identity is big and it is broad and it is bottoms up would be what I would tell people when they think about identity.

HOST:  Yeah and another thing hearing you talk about that, it sounds like identity is kind of complex and so when we’re thinking about, you know, the traditional world that we come from, what are some issues that we face in our day-to-day revolving around identity?  Any of those types of identity that you just listed?

MATTHEW GOULD:  So I think one of the biggest challenges we have is just how complicated it is to be able to share and use the information that you generate about yourself on all these different places that you have built an identity.  So like you are trying to suggest, your identity is very contextual.  Like you may behave a little bit differently at church than you do at the club, at least I do.

And—but they’re both you, right?  And—but there’s some information you don’t want to transfer from one of these groups that you interact with to another one of these groups, because they could be applicable and it’s tough, because all this information is siloed, most of it is analog and I would say like 99% of it is analog.

The parts that are digital are done in a way that is very analog-focused, right?  So like, you know, you may have a digital copy of your insurance, but when I get pulled over, I still have a paper copy in my car, but I like to have both because maybe the police officer doesn’t have the whatever, then so he needs to see that form of proof for me.

So I think identity right now and the biggest problem is that it distribute across all these different places.  It has so like, you know, your identity is literally distributed across dozens of different groups that you’re in and different places where you have built context for yourself.

And there’s no great way for you to carry it around with you, as you go about your daily life and that’s, I think, part of the exciting things that we’re starting to see develop here around digital identity.

HOST:  Yeah, I think of the biggest headaches that I face on a regular basis and I know this is like my fault for forgetting to carry my ID with me everywhere I go, but is going to the bar and just trying to get a beer casually and having them look at me and think, no, she’s not 21, can’t get a beer.  And I’m like, is there no other way for me to prove to you?  Like, can I show you my LinkedIn?  Can I like show you my diploma or anything to prove that I am in fact over the age of 21? 

So it’d be really cool to have all of that, you know, digital somehow instead of analog.

MATTHEW GOULD:  Yeah and if you think about it, it probably makes sense, right?  Like if you were able to verify your education credentials back to your LinkedIn resume and they could see that you graduated with your PhD in Rocket Science in 2007, right? 

When they check you at the bar, you could show them your LinkedIn like, listen, I got my PhD in Rocket Science in 2007.  No way I’m under 21.  They’re like yeah, that’s probably true because they can see it’s verified or you can even just have your driver’s license verified back to your LinkedIn.  Sounds like a whole scary to me, but maybe that’s the future state of the world.

Because you’re—when you’re interacting with these different apps, you’re able to upload that data that you can take with you.  So you don’t have to waste a lot of time and you don’t even necessarily have to upload that particular data, but maybe you just verify that data, like verify your age.  You don’t have to actually upload your driver’s license to LinkedIn or wherever, but they would just be able to check and make sure that you are telling the truth on your resume for instance.

HOST:  Yeah, for sure.  So we’re already starting to get into this, you know, this Web3 world and what identity will look like there, but zooming a little bit more broadly, when you think forward to what our digital identity is going to look like in a Web3 world, what do you think about or like how do you see that playing out?

MATTHEW GOULD:  Well, the first thing that I think about is the number of people on the planet who do not have a way to prove who they are and that number is actually really big and it’s in the billions, like several billion people that don’t have any access to prove who they are. 

And it’s because we have these really old systems and again, we’re lucky to live in a place where even though it’s a pain to go to the DMV, I can, right?  I can get my driver’s license, but there’s a lot of places and a lot of people who don’t have access to being able to prove who they are.

And if you think about it, that makes it really hard to build a reputation, makes it really hard to build a business and create a life for yourself.  So when I start thinking about identity, the first thing I think about is all the people who would love to have a much easier way to prove information about themselves, because it allows them to get it, like a toe-hole into the economy that they really just can’t enter right now.

So that’s my first—it’s kind of like my first step.  When I’m thinking about identity is how I think it can change the way that people interact.  And then the next thing I think about is the system design around making it much easier to move around, and I think that’s mostly about taking all this analog information that we have and putting it on these—creating a digital copy of that in allowing users to carry that around with them as they—in that way, they can be in charge of their own identity, instead of having the government or some large corporation like Facebook login or something like this have control of their identity.

HOST:  Got it, got it.  So when we’re talking about having a truly decentralized identity, what does that look like in a day-to-day?  Is it—whether I’m logging into my credit card online to pay my credit card bill or whether I’m logging into my social media.  I’m using like one—-like I’m logging in with my wallet for instance, instead of all these separate types or how does that play out in like the day-to-day?

MATTHEW GOULD:  Yes.  So well, I think the first thing is that it’s going to be an extension of regular identity and just like—-because it’s very easy for you to create another identity on Twitter or TikTok or something else like that.

So I think what you’re going to see is just people are going to bolt on these new digital identifiers to their, to their daily life and they’re going to start building on top of those different types of information and then applications are going to begin to read off for those digital identifiers instead of having siloed identity systems independently from each other.

So the good news is I think that the way the digital identity evolves is not like a—you have to replace the entire old system overnight.  I think it’s kind of a thing that build over time and it’s going to start off on these very interesting—I think it’s going to start with Crypto, because this is where the innovation is, right. 

And there’s all sort of interesting things that already happened with identity.  I think NFTs were a really big move on the pace—I’m sorry, in this direction.  Like what we learn with all these collectables that are out there is that people like to—if they’re going to associate themselves with some sort of digital item like a picture, like a CryptoPunk or any of these other famous NFTs projects, then maybe they want to make that their Twitter profile or something.

The important thing is they want to find some way to express who they are, that makes them feel like they have some sort of attachment to it and that was what kind of happening with these NFTs craze.

And so, when I see all these people buying up these NFTs and then associating them back to their profile, whether that’s a CryptoPunk or a blockchain domain name or any one of the other hundreds of different little NFTs projects that have come up there.  I see that is like the starting place for digital identity.

So what I’m trying to say is the first thing you’re going to do is you’re going to pick something that you want to represent you as a Digital Identity and that could be an avatar, it could be a something in the central land, it could be a CryptoPunk, it can be blockchain domain name.  

And then you’re going to use that item to attach more information about yourself and you can see this like people are attaching their Twitter accounts to their blockchain domain name or their—-and they’ve been doing that for a while or maybe they’re attaching their CryptoPunk to different avatars inside of these Metaverse worlds, right, and that becomes a part of their identity.

So That’s—this is where I see the innovation happening and we just fast forward - - several years.  There’s no reason why I can’t have a driver’s license associated with my CryptoPunk and I know that sounds kind of goofy and I know is little bit goofy, but that’s like—it’s hard to know exactly where the innovation process is going to take you, but like you are becoming a funny here in the bar and you just like, yeah, this is me, the CryptoPunk and I’m going to get a beer? 

I don’t know if that’s going to be possible, but I think, I think this is where the innovation is going to happen and it’s going to be bottoms up, one step at a time, probably with less regulated industries to begin with.

HOST:  So that actually brings up a pretty interesting point which is that we are seeing more and more people at least on Crypto Twitter replacing a photo of themselves with an avatar or one of the new NFTs profile picks and we’re seeing more and more people shifting towards this anonymous or at least like pseudonymous world and I imagine we’ll see more and more of that as we move towards a more Web3 world in the future.

So I’m wondering like, how do you think this is going to impact the way that maybe people view their own identity or the way people view other’s identity?  The way that people interact with each other based on what your identity is like if you’re choosing to go by Matt Gould today or if you’re choosing to go by CryptoPunk number whatever it is that you have or if you’re choosing go by a Cool Cat today, you know.

How do you think that’s going to effect, I guess, just like social interaction or how people view identity?

MATTHEW GOULD:  So well, I think like, the people in their thirties are already super used to this.  Like they will play with someone on a Call of Duty, right, for like ten years and never have met this person and they just know them by their screen handle on there and their voice, because they’ve been talking to them forever and so they’re very comfortable with like these—like maybe more—like kind of unknown or pseudonymous ideas, but they know that person because they’ve been playing with them for 10 years, right? 

So it’s not a—so I think the interesting thing for me is going to be the technology that enables these different types of identities to have superpowers and what I mean by that is like if you can take one of these digital identifiers and then you can make it more useful.

So like the very easy example for me is these blockchain domain NFTs that we build on a sample domains and you can attach cryptocurrency addresses.  So you can have a digital item, your blockchain domain name, that you can attach your—make it easier for people to send you payments, or you can attach your Twitter handle.

You can also see people using their NFTs, like their CryptoPunk or whatever, to use that to create an avatar in side of some of these Metaverses and so that’s an interesting use case as well, because that’s a persona that they can use in maybe inside of a video game.  So I can see a future where your persona and a video game could be something that you could take outside of that video game and interact in discord, right, or any of this other places so you can be—you can actually take that social interaction outside of that particular context.

So another way to think about this is right now if you’re on the internet and you go to Twitter, it’s like you go to the Twitter bar, right, and like you have to be inside of the Twitter bar and talk about Twitter.  And then if you go to the Reddit bar, you have to be inside the Reddit bar to talk about Reddit or whatever.

These are all like different little things, but in the future, what’s going to happen is, you could take maybe your video game avatar from Call of Duty or whatever it is you’re doing and then you can actually go and interact on Twitter and you could have that avatar there and then you could—other people who also play that same game that you have online could now interact with your timeline and it’s a way for you to take that community with you outside of that particular location.

So I don’t have a—let me see if there’s a better way to explain.  But it’s kind of like having a T-shirt, right, that say like; I’m in this group and right now on the internet.  Every time you go to a different application or you interact with a different social community, you are just—you’re just a member of that community, whatever that is and you can—you’re just a piece of that pie.  But you can’t bring with you, you know, essentially like a T-shirt that you’re wearing of that community, say hey, I have a CryptoPunk or hey, I also play Call of Duty online or this video game, or I really support of this YouTuber, right?

And this is—you’re seeing influencers, issues, social tokens or social NFTs or things like this.  This is what’s going to happen is your ID is becoming portable across the digital landscape and eventually, I think your ID is going to be portable across the physical landscape, which we can talk about a little bit more because there’s interesting things that are happening there as well.

HOST:  Yeah, I mean I am curious to hear about that, like what—I assume you’re talking about the Metaverse versus the physical world that we live in.  How are, how are we going to balance those two worlds, if you will?

MATTHEW GOULD:  Yeah.  Well, I think what’s happening is the digital world is just going to make the information that you’re generating offline and online a lot easier to share so that when you go to new places, people can have more information about you.

So an interesting comment that we actually talked about internally at Unstoppable was, if you are—no, if you post on Twitter a lot, you probably have some Twitter trolls, right?

If you look at your threads or wherever you are online, there’s probably a lot of people who are not adding value, right, to your community and wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way for you to gate your community around, ensuring that people who want to participate have some skin in the game? 

And there’s a couple of things like this already that are—that people are working on, but it’s basically like, hey—you can imagine a future where, hey, if you want to participate in this digital community, you also have to have gone to meet up in real life, right?

So like if you want to come and talk about CryptoPunks, then you have to go to meet up and check in at a CryptoPunks meet up in, you know, one of the 20 cities where they had them and this way, you’re not just going to get trolls talking about, oh this is, this is not real art or whatever.  None of those people go, because they won’t take the time to go and invest and building in that community and this is a much nicer way to ensure that the people participating are people who have skin in the game.

And this is a wide problem that you have interacting between the—in the digital world and adding some real world data to that can really make it a lot easier. 

Another one that I may have talked about a lot earlier is like, if I wanted to participate in a forum about my neighborhood watch association or my homeowners association, you know.  If I have to prove that I actually live in that neighborhood and that would be super useful.  And we have this problem in the United States, where like you have people complaining about something that one community is doing in like Nevada or Texas and the people complaining live in Baltimore or New York and vice versa.  And you’re like why is this person even a part of this conversation and that’s the type of thing you can do.

So I think they’re going to interact well.  We still live in the real world and building some of those hooks in that will make the digital world better like, this real world, you know, skin in the game, type of thing is going to ensure that the digital world can have better spaces, at least that’s what I’m hopeful for.

HOST:  For sure, yeah.  I love your point about like if there’s a way to prove that you are at some physical event before you can engage in a digital community, I think—you know, a lot of people are scared about the notion that we’re moving towards a more and more digital world, that we’re going to be interacting more with the Metaverse, like what is this going to do to future generations, what is it going to do to kids? 

They already have their faces buried on screen all day.  This is just going to make it worse, like are kids ever going to run round and play outside anymore?  Are people all just going to be like robots talking to each other behind a screen?  And I really think it can—obviously, we don’t know the answer to that and we are a part of the process of building out the answer to that.

But I think there’s definitely a possibility to build out a world, a Metaverse where our social interaction and our relationships with one another are actually strengthened compared to what they are now.

And so to your example, you know, right now, it’s like if you’re on Twitter at all, like you’ve seen trolls, if you look at any person on Twitter with a big following, you just scroll through their comments.  You can see that like the majority of those comments are just troll comments, like they don’t add any value.

And so in a world where you can verify, like oh, you can only enter this gated community of people with a similar interest and sale like NFTs if you have already attended X numbers of NFTs events or completed these courses on blockchain technology so that you can have smart and valuable conversation, I think that’ll actually strengthen our relationships and our social interactions with each other a lot more than—compared to today.

MATTHEW GOULD:  And then on the business side, it can actually be very practical for certain types of businesses.  Like it could be—if you are applying for a loan, right, or you want to borrow money for something, we can make sure that you’ve attended these very specific educational events, like you don’t get to take a student loan until you’ve actually sat on through a course and you, like take in a couple of hours and had someone to talked to financial planner or something like this where you can get a house loan where, you know, and maybe these types of things are also super useful to be able to prove about who you are, and then prove that you’ve done these things.  

And right now, these are all siloed.  So like, I remember, when I was younger and I got my driver’s license, I went to like a driver’s ed course and that was required by my mom, right?  But also helped me get a reduced price on my insurance and right now, all of this is done very like one off, like the—fax a copy that I’m really old, but like fax a copy of your certificate for whatever to do the insurance company, and then they verify it, and then you’re good to go.  But if we could put all of this identity information because that’s—I mean, that’s what that is.

It’s like you have attended that course, right?  And we can put that—we can make that digital, and then the users own it.  I think this is really important that you as the user own and control it, then you can allow other apps to access that data.  So it’s—it becomes much more powerful because you can use that forever.  And right now, there’s really no one incentivized because you can’t own your data or the identifying information about yourself, there’s no way for you to easily collect all the different pieces of data that you create about yourself right now.  

No one’s really tracking it or keeping it in a way that’s shareable easily.  So I think if we give that back to consumers, they will take better care of that data than all of these different random companies.  And once they have that data in better form, we’re going to see how much easier that makes us to have all sorts of interactions.  Like it’s going to make it easier, like you’re saying, for having online communities, it could also be easier for doing things.  Like something as mundane as writing a loan for business.

HOST:  Yeah, for sure.  I think it’s also going to make transacting financially a lot fair.  And so right now because we don’t own all of our—all of the pieces that shape our identity in one central location—if you wanted to take out a loan, for instance, you’d have to walk into the bank, you’d have to show your face to whoever works at the bank and then convince them that you are a qualified individual for this loan and that you’re super qualified and should have the lowest rate possible. 

But in going through that process, you have to show your face there.  They’re going to see what you look like and there’s inherent human biases that are—that we can’t control, like, there’s no way to get rid of that fully in any human being.  And so if there’s a way to, in a central place, collect all of our credentials that we’ve accrued that go under our identity and show like—I’ve, I’ve attended all these courses on how to be responsible financially.  I’ve done X, Y and Z and all of these things. 

And just prove that in one location, extend that through, then you would think that the process of approving, you’re denying, you’re deciding what rate to give you on your interest is going to be much fairer.  You can basically just—there’s a formula for that.  You can just go through the list and, you know, say if you’ve completed this, then this is your rate; completed this, this is your rate.  

And, and that element of identity that I think some people are afraid of, and some people are maybe, like, I don’t want to say ashamed of, but choose to hide because of what society says about certain types of identity.  I think all of that will be eliminated and people will feel a lot more comfortable, like coming into their full identity.

MATTHEW GOULD:  And I have like a specific example for this.  I think it’s funny.  So like, if you’ve ever applied for a mortgage, you’ll know that they require so many documents.  Is ridiculous, like they need absolutely everything and it is just a pain to chase all that stuff down.  And if you think about it, like, it’s a lot easier to chase down all those documents if you fit certain profile—like, if you’ve been in the same place for 20 years, it’s easier if you trace down everything.  

Then if you’ve moved every three years, then that has nothing to do with that person, right, or their ability to repay the loan.  It’s just like, oh, I move every three years because I get a new apartment.  It’s much harder for me to track down my rental history for the last five because I got to go back and get these other things, which makes it kind of a pain.  

And another one is your credit score and this is super annoying.  If you’ve ever applied for a loan, for a car or something, you’d know that every time you go to a new place, you’re going to ping your credit report and that hurts your credit score.  And I know when I tried to go, I like take a copy of my credit report with me and like, see, here’s my credit report, I promise you.  And they’re like, no, we can’t use that.  

And the reason they can’t is there’s no way for me as an individual to keep a copy of my credit records that they can know—is like verified and valid.  And that’s the kind of thing, I mean, that would be really nice for people to be able to keep about themselves.  That’s a piece of my identity, like how good am I repaying loans.  And there’s no reason that some other company should own that, like Equifax, and then they get hacked.  And then there’s 300 million records out there on the, on the web where people are just using it to apply for loans fraudulently or whatever or what have you.

So it’s much better I think if you own your information about yourself as an individual, I also really liked that just from a fundamental rights perspective.  I like the idea that as a human being, you get to be the one and ownership of the information about yourself instead of relying on third parties.  And then I think it’s also just a—I think it’s a better data model because you’re going to be incentivized to keep, keep that record information and then you can also choose to share it with each time independently and you don’t have to like go run and chase down some third party who maybe doesn’t have the same, the same incentive to get it right.  

Like the credit, the credit report company does not have the number one best interest of making sure that the records are accurate all the time and I’m going to make sure that I do a better job of that.  So we’ll see.  I know—and this stuff is not going to happen quickly, but I think we’re starting to see it.  And it’s—and I think it’s fun because in the NFT community, you’re seeing people; because they can finally own things, they’re starting to attach pieces of their—of themselves to those things that they own and that is the basis, I think, for digital identity.  Like, you want to identify with something, you pick it and then you need to own it, whatever that thing is, and then you can then you can start building on it.  So I think we’re there.

HOST:  Yeah, for sure.  For sure.  I love seeing the craze with like the NFT profile pics and avatars, and I think that is just— that’s a really good step towards having all of us really identify with and own our identities.  And this is something too that, that when I told my people on Twitter that we’re recording this episode, got a ton of comments and questions of about things that other people wanted to know about the digital identity and decentralized identity.  

So I’m going to run through some of those Twitter questions from our community.  The first one we have is from Albert.  He’s actually got two questions.  So the first one is, why did you as Unstoppable Domains decide to let people buy domains as NFTs to keep forever versus the rental system?

MATTHEW GOULD:  Yeah.  So—and that’s because I think it’s core for you to own things if you’re going to invest in them over time.  So I think that I really want people to start building their digital lives, and their digital presence.  And instead of building them on a platform like Twitter or Instagram, or someone who can take that away from you, I think it’s important that you actually own it.  

So I actually view that as like a core problem of the internet today, is that you can’t own those things.  And I think it’s really bad when they kick you off.  So like, if you get kicked off of Twitter, you lose all those followers, you lose a lot of things about yourself.  And I’m very interested in helping to build systems where if Twitter kicks you off, you still have your little identity and you can just go use Twitter 2 and they can’t do anything about that.  And this is a big topic in the crypto space.  So yeah, that’s why I think owning it is actually core.

HOST:  Well, then on a bigger scale too, we just saw a few months ago, Argentina lost its Google domain, right?  So some, some person was able to purchase like the Argentina google.com, like google.com.ar or whatever it is for Argentina for like, really cheap.  And they legit just lost their Google, which is pretty crazy.

MATTHEW GOULD:  Yeah, and I think, honestly, it’s better just let people own these things.  I’m also just tired of having a SAS product.  I’m trying to have to pay the annual fee.  It’d be nice to just be—own something for a while.  And there’s no reason why you shouldn’t own your digital real estate.

HOST:  For sure, for sure.  All right.  So Albert’s other question is what is the biggest gap in using decentralized ID today?  There’s actually a related question from Shaw, what is the biggest risk of decentralized identity?

MATTHEW GOULD: So I actually think those are two different questions.  So the biggest gap, the biggest gap for decentralized identity today, first is probably making it really easy for users to add more information about themselves to their digital identities.  And there’s, there’s a lot of reasons why that’s hard.  Again, it’s UX, is difficult when you’re building these new systems, like what should it look like?  And I think that’s going to get solved because a lot of energy is on that.  

The next one from us and actually, I think this is actually—I mean, sorry, from Shaw was like, what is the biggest risk of, of decentralized identity?  I think this is a good one.  Is that I think that it could be used as a way to exert much more control over your behavior online.  Like, so if you think it’s bad that Twitter can kick you off right now, imagine a future where if Twitter banned you that your Instagram account and your Reddit account and all the other accounts were also turned off at the same time, right, and so that would be even worse.  And that’s the direction we don’t want to go.  

So, so if we’re building digital identities, this is why I said to Albert, like, I think the most important thing is you have to own it.  Because if you own it, if Twitter kicks you off their platform, that’s not going to have any impact on what Reddit does, or what Instagram does.  They could agree to do something like that if they wanted to, but that would be a different thing.  So yeah, I think that’s one of the biggest risks is having anyone other than you own your digital identity.  

And this is new.  This hasn’t ever existed before because there was no way to really own digital property until we had blockchains.  But I think it’s super important and I hope that we end up in a system where you—the end-user actually own that digital identity.  I think you should look for projects that let you do that.  I think that that’s—it’s key.  And it may not seem that big of a deal now, but, you know, there could be a future state where that can be abused.  

So, yeah, that’s my—as the - - becomes more important, and a much bigger part of your life, like blocking someone’s digital ID, you could just imagine like, that could be really dangerous.  

And so that, I think, is the biggest risk for decentralized identity.  We don’t want to fall under any of these large corporate structures or large government structures for digital identity.  I’m not a big fan of government identity projects, just in general.  I think that’s scary.  I’m not a big fan of corporate based identity projects.  I really think that you need to have identity built from the ground up where the user owns it, and then they can choose what they attach back to themselves.

HOST:  Yeah, for sure.  For sure.  All right.  Russ wants to know, what projects do you see leading the charge for decentralized identity, and what do they need to gain mass adoption?

MATTHEW GOULD:  So we mentioned several of these earlier in the podcast, but I think that basically all of these projects where people are joining communities, and then claiming a piece of that community, and then associating that back to themselves are, are leaders in the space.  So this is—all of these, you know, one of 10,000 NFT projects.  These are all the domain name projects where you’re seeing people post those up on their Twitter profiles.  It’s all the art that people are posting in.  

And, and so—and I think those are the leaders because you need to be able to own something.  And I think that the best thing to own is some sort of NFT, just—technically right now, I think that’s a good way to do it and then you’re tying back other information to that.  

So I think those projects are leading.  There’s some very cool ones that are also working on, like different types of rewards programs which I think is also super interesting.  For crypto where like, if you have a CryptoPunk, then you also get a crypto doc.  And that’s kind of like a rewards program, if you think about it.  And I think that’s really cool, too.  

So I would say those are—and that may actually be the board apes Yacht Club.  So sorry if I got that wrong.  So if you own a board - - you get a dog I’ll have to look at.  There’s so many.  But I think these are all cool experiments.  I like to think that Unstoppable Domains, of course, is a leader in this space and we’re going to be leading even heavier on this over the next year to help kind of bring more of this to life.

HOST:     Yeah, cool.  And then speaking of like - - new projects leading the charge for decentralized identity, Zori [phonetic] wants to know, is POAP, Proof of Attendance Protocol, useful for ID and we actually sort of already alluded to this, but if you have anything to add on that front?

MATTHEW GOULD:  Yeah.  No, I think—and this has been around for a while.  There’s been several of these over the years in the interim community where it’s like, you proved you went to this conference and you got a special NFT or something like that for attending.  And I think they’re cool because they helped bridge real world to digital life and—or other types of interactions back to your, your digital, your digital ID.  

So yeah, I think it’s cool to be able to say, I went to this event or I attended this conference or this educational series or whatever, as a, as a way to get people into communities.

HOST:  For sure.  And then last question from Twitter.  This is from David.  He wants to know, curious about your thoughts on the single sign on with blockchain?

MATTHEW GOULD:  Yeah, my thoughts here are still early, like very, very early.  And there are several companies working on this including Unstoppable.  I think it’s very interesting and opens up a lot of possibilities for users to permission access to data about themselves and, and like, share that data with apps that they’re using.  

So I think, basically, right now, the sky’s our limit on what this could potentially impact.  The implementation is a bit complex, and I think that people need to work through, you know, how do we want to tie—how do we want to tie more data?  Like generalize a lot of different types of data back to your, your identity which, which could be located on the blockchain.  So one of these NFTs, for instance, a blockchain domain name or even ethereum address.  

So I would say very, very interesting; very, very early, unsure exactly how it’s going to be implemented, but definitely something that we’re looking at, at Unstoppable.

HOST:  For sure, exciting stuff.  All right, awesome.  Well, thank you, Matt so much for joining me on this episode.  Any final thoughts on digital identity or decentralized identity before we wrap up here?

MATTHEW GOULD:  Well, I’ll say that this is probably one of the most interesting things that people are working on in blockchain over the next couple of years.  And I believe Fetalica [phonetic] had a great talk where he talked about used cases beyond finance, you know, beyond decentralized finance with blockchain and ID was one of the ones that was really high up on his list.  

So I think it’s a great place to kind of dig in and Unstoppable Domains is definitely going to be right in the middle of this over the next couple of years and hoping to bring it to our users.

HOST:  Awesome, great way to wrap it up.  Thanks again so much, Matt.  Thank you, everybody, for tuning in.  If you’ve got more questions for Matt, go ahead and hit us up, hit him up on Twitter @Matthewegould and you can pester him with questions there.  Thanks again for tuning in.  We’ll be back again soon with another episode of the Unstoppable Podcast.