These New Orleans Kids are Using Web3 to Shape the Future
When looking at where the future of technology is going, it’s best not to ask people my age, but to look at how teenagers interact with technology.
This week, I had the opportunity to see young people from New Orleans attend a summer camp with the Youth Empowerment Project. There, they learned from people like local artist and technology professional Farrah Ross Appleman and even Saints linebacker Demario Davis about a group of technologies known as Web3. Below are a few of the technologies they discussed.
Cryptocurrency: When most people hear about cryptocurrency, they think of Bitcoin — the first cryptocurrency. But since the invention of Bitcoin, many other cryptocurrencies have been created for different purposes, the most popular being Ethereum. This cryptocurrency has proven popular because it allows for the sale and transfer of virtual goods. Young people who want to create or purchase virtual goods have plenty of opportunities to use Ethereum.
Wallet: We are all familiar with carrying around a physical wallet that is more likely to have credit or debit cards than physical cash. Buying and selling online with cryptocurrency requires a virtual wallet often stored on a phone. By downloading a wallet like Metamask or Coinbase, you can carry around various cryptocurrencies at all times with no risk of theft, even if your phone is stolen. The students created virtual wallets for themselves so they can begin using cryptocurrency.
Non-fungible Tokens: Most exciting for the students were designing and “minting” their own non-fungible tokens or NFTs. NFTs are simply one-of-a-kind objects in the digital world. While anyone can take a screenshot of a picture they see online, the technology with an NFT allows someone to have proof of ownership over a unique digital object.
The students painted designs on physical sneakers to create one-of-a-kind real-world art. Students then took pictures of the sneakers and “minted,” or created an NFT of, that picture. The NFTs were listed for sale on a website known as Open Seas which allows for NFTs to be purchased with Ethereum.
I purchased the NFT entitled “Fall Guys” by a soon-to-be ninth-grader named Rhydell. He told me he designed the shoes after his favorite video game “Fall Guys”. He was excited not only to sell the shoes but because he believed this was the first step to becoming an online entrepreneur and begin accumulating cryptocurrency in his wallet to help him afford college.
Many of the students shared similar stories and goals.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about the rise of Web3 is the empowerment of creative people just like the students I met. While there will always be jobs for coding, people with much more limited technological knowledge can use the creative skills they have to be part of the ecosystem and create digital value.
If Louisiana wants to be a leader in innovation and empower people like these students to succeed in the next version of the internet, it not only needs to get its policies right but allow entrepreneurs to understand and access tools like these.