What I did not touch upon in that article, but demonstrated in my prototype demos (Alias — DNS-like Redirection on Ethereum, with dType, Aliased Data and Templates, The new Wiki on Ethereum Chain) is related to making data references browsable, findable and semantically accurate. I advocate for leaving vagueness and misleading product labeling behind. I advocate for a new decentralized web, based on truth and fact.
But now, I am telling you that ENS is not obsolete, even though it promotes the same type of behavior that we are accustomed to: first movers, incumbents capturing names that resonate with the public, FOMO on acquiring these names even if we don’t need them, even if the product does not resonate with them.
The market wants ENS exactly for the above reasons. It is a tool to change people’s views and behavior, to create FOMO and branding. It is in our greedy nature to want to sit on public property and to obtain profit from it. And words are public property. And we are selling them.
Monopoly Over Public Resources
Monopoly over public goods is the standard today. A clear example is a country’s forestry reserves. In some cases (like Poland and Romania), citizens themselves have made efforts to replant trees, as a patriotic effort. Now, after 30+ years, these trees are being cut down with no consent being asked from the population. Only a few profit from this and most profit goes to foreign companies and as graft to corrupt government officials.
For intellectual property: we like monopoly when we have something to gain from it and monopoly over a word is very powerful. We have developed laws to protect this monopoly on trademarks and those laws have extended into domain names management. These laws were intended to protect known trademarks from squatters and even from people that were using the domain name before the trademark was issued, if they did not register the trademark first.
While you can say that it is fair to stop individuals from profiting if they use a known trademark to boost their site’s views, regulations do not cover names like pants.com, death.com (owned by squatters) or food.com, bikes.com, music.com (owned by private entities). An English word is prime real estate for international marketing.
One example, where the brand name was fair is actually google.com. They did not monopolize on an existent name, nor took gains from it. They invented their own name and created new meaning.
Acquiring Spotlight through Pollution
Trademarks exist in our daily lives. People change their names if it benefits their brand or take on pseudonyms. Names are a core part of the identity of an individual and we try to be first adopters in order to get monopoly on a relevant email or social media handle.
Marketing, branding are the only tools that currently exist, which bring ourselves and our work into the public’s attention. However, these tools and behaviors have a series of consequences that shape our world.
We are polluting our clarity and understanding of the world by associating words and meanings that are not semantically linked. This has a general effect of making our languages unclear and our communication vague. As a pattern, it is similar to how air pollution affects our health, even if we are used to it. And one type of pollution leads to another and each time, it is easier to accept and the public resource is easier to corrupt.
Pollution in Ethereum
We encounter pollution even in Ethereum — anyone can currently store anything they want on the chain, without participating in the storage effort, without paying storage rent. It has become clear that some data, used by many, are more important that data used by few and that some storage rent systems must emerge. And they will: https://twitter.com/VitalikButerin/status/1155566281229254657.
Encouraging an immoral behavior business model in the ecosystem taints the ecosystem. A good system would encourage moral business by design. Ethereum should not want a wild west economy, where land (public domain) was grabbed from tribes that did not exercise ownership and then sold as private property.
And I am not saying that private property is not good — it has brought evolution through motivation. But private property with negative effects on the general population or on long term innovation is bad.
Transitioning From Monopoly to Decentralized Resources
The transition from the current habits based on brand marketing and ownership on public domain words, to decentralized and meritocratic systems, will be done progressively. ENS will be highly used during this transition — it is the natural evolution of our current tendencies. We cannot skip three steps ahead, evolution is gradual.
However, marketing efforts should be fully automated, leaving little space for misleading users. We should strive to find Layer 1 and Layer 2 solutions for this problem, rather than giving tools to people who exacerbate the problem.
We are developing dType and Alias as decentralized tools for the public good. dType will not accept simple English words as names for the types proposed by people and included in the type registry. Ensuring that type names reflect their purpose will be a requirement. dType discourages FOMO over English words.
Companies should not be able to choose an unearned brand or name. They have to earn it by consensus and buying it should not be the means for acquiring consensus. Otherwise, it restricts our free speech right.
ENS and other DNS based systems can still be used on top of dType and Alias, even if this is not an intended use for dType. And ENS will still have success in the following period because it appeals to the lower angels of our nature. The second reason is that dType and Alias do not have full ownership management … yet.